Friday, April 11, 2008


News item quoted in its entirety:
Miscommunication leads to botched Salt Lake City robbery
Published: April 11, 2008
An apparent failure to communicate prompted a frustrated would-be robber to leave without getting a dime.

A man walked into Cafe Trio, 680 S. 900 East, just before 10 p.m. Thursday, presented a pink plastic bag to an employee and said "fill the bag," said Salt Lake City police detective Jeff Bedard. The man also threatened the employee by saying, "Don't make me hurt you," according to Bedard.

The employee, however, thought the man said "feel the bag," and reached out a hand and complied.

"You've got to be kidding me," the frustrated robber said, according to Bedard.
The would-be robber at that point gave up and left. He was described as a white man, about 25 years old and standing 5-foot-8. He was last seen wearing a hunter green hat, dark glasses and blue jeans.

Anyone with information on the man can call police at 799-INFO.

© 2008 Deseret News Publishing Company All rights reserved


  1. This really is funny, but I doubt that anyone outside of Utah would quite understand what went on here linguistically - it's not just a simple misunderstanding. There is a "conditioned sound change" going on in the Utah English dialect which makes the pronunciation of the words "feel" and "fill", and the way they are interpreted by listeners, essentially the same. Same goes for "peel/pill", "sale/sell", and others that end with the letter "l". I'll spare you the technical details, but wanted to point that out for the non-linguists :-) Still, one wonders why the robber gave up so easily, rather than clarify that he wanted her to fill the bag with money. I doubt there would have been any misunderstanding in that case :-)

  2. Was it a case of the Utah tongue (Lard, Darthy! What a gargiss arnge farmal!) or a Hispanic, "Feeeel deee baaaaag, Senor!"?
    Or am I just being ignernt?