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Scholars of Twang Track All the 'Y'Alls' in Texas
NY Times ^ | RALPH BLUMENTHAL

Posted on 11/28/2003 6:06:42 AM PST by Pharmboy


Michael Stravato for The New York Times
John O. Greer is an architecture teacher at
Texas A&M University. But when a couple of
researchers sat down and talked with him recently,
they were less interested in what he said than
in how he said it.

COLLEGE STATION, Tex. — "Are yew jus' tryin' to git me to talk, is that the ah-deah?"

That was the idea. John O. Greer, an architecture teacher at Texas A&M University, sat at his dining table between two interrogators and their tape recorder. They had precisely 258 questions for him. But it waddn what he said that interested them most. It was how he said it.

Those responses, part of an ambitious National Geographic Society survey of Texas speech, with its "y'alls," "might-coulds" and "fixin' to's," are helping language investigators throw a scientific light on a mythologized and sometimes ridiculed mainstay of Americana: the Texas twang.

Among the unexpected findings, said Guy Bailey, a linguistics professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio and a leading scholar in the studies with his wife, Jan Tillery, is that in Texas more than elsewhere, how you talk says a lot about how you feel about your home state.

"Those who think Texas is a good place to live adopt the flat `I' — it's like the badge of Texas," said Dr. Bailey, 53, provost and executive vice president of the university and a transplanted Alabamian married to a Lubbock native, also 53.

So if you love Texas, they say, be fixin' to say "naht" for "night," "rahd" for "ride" and "raht" for "right."

And by all means say "all" for "oil."

In addition to quickly becoming enamored of Western garb like cowboy boots and hats, big-buckled belts, western shirts and vests, newcomers to the state — and there are a lot of them — are especially likely to adopt the lingo pronto.

At the same time, the speech of rural and urban Texans is diverging, Dr. Bailey said. Texans in Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth and San Antonio are sounding more like other Americans and less like their fellow Texans in Iraan, Red Lick or Old Glory.

Indeed, Dr. Tillery and Dr. Bailey wrote in a recent paper called "Texas English," a new dialect of Southern American English may be emerging on the West Texas plains. It is not what a linguist might expect, they wrote, "but this is Texas, and things are just different here."

The changes are being tracked by researchers for the two San Antonio linguists, who are working with scholars from Oklahoma State University and West Texas A&M in Canyon, outside Amarillo, under the sponsorship of the National Geographic Society. They divided Texas into 116 squares and are interviewing four native Texans spanning four age groups— from the 20's to the 80's, in each.

As part of the latest effort, two master's students in linguistics from the University of North Texas at Denton, Amanda Aguilar, 24, and Brooke Earheardt, 23, arranged recently to record Mr. Greer, 70, as he responded to an exhaustive 31-page questionnaire.

Ms. Aguilar first probed some of Mr. Greer's attitudes toward Texas. Was it a barren state?

"It's in the ahs of the beholder," responded Mr. Greer, who was born in Port Arthur. The state, he said, was "dee-vahded, you kin almost draw a lahn."

Was it a progressive state?

"Compared to who?" he said. "Califohnia? Baghdad? Ah'd have to say Texas is a progressive state."

Distinctive?

"Most are distinctive in their own way," he said, smiling, "with the possible exception of Ah-wah." (That was Iowa.)

Next Ms. Aguilar quizzed Mr. Greer on a lexicon of Texas words and phrases. Had he ever heard the expression "y'all?"

Of course. "Ah think `you' sometimes just duddn't work bah itself."

Could you use it for just one person?

"Ah would trah to confahn it to the plural," he said. "It's just like `youse guys.' "

Had he heard "fixin' to?"

Of course again. " `Ahma' often goes with it," he said. "Ahma fixin' to go."

The questions and Mr. Greer's answers kept coming. A dragonfly? That's a "miskeeta hahk." A wishbone was a "pulleybone." A cowboy's rope was a lasso or a lariat, or just a "ropin' rope." A drought was worse than a "drah spell"; no rain, or "it haddn for a long tahm." You wait "for" a friend who haddn shown up, but you wait "on" someone who is nearby and delayed, perhaps upstairs putting on makeup.

Afterward, Ms. Aguilar and Ms. Earheardt said that Mr. Greer, though white, employed some noticeable African-American and Deep South speech patterns. There were also Spanish influences, common in Texas, where Spanish was widely spoken for nearly a hundred years before English.

Dr. Tillery and Dr. Bailey warned that it was possible to exaggerate the distinctiveness of Texas English because the state loomed so large in the popular imagination. Few speech elements here do not also appear elsewhere.

"Nevertheless," they wrote in their paper on Texas English, "in its mix of elements both from various dialects of English and from other languages, TXE is in fact somewhat different from other closely related varieties."

Perhaps the most striking finding, Dr. Tillery said, was the spread of the humble "y'all," ubiquitous in Texas as throughout the South. Y'all, once "you all" but now commonly reduced to a single word, sometimes even spelled "yall," is taking the country by storm, the couple reported in an article written with Tom Wikle of Oklahoma State University and published in 2000 in the Journal of English Linguistics. No one other word, it turns out, can do the job.

"Y'all" and "fixin' to" were also spreading fast among newcomers within the state, they said, particularly those who regard Texas fondly. Use of the flat `I,' they found, also correlated strikingly to a favorable view of Texas.

But they found some curious anomalies, as well.

One traditional feature of Texas and Southern speech — pronouncing the word "pen" like "pin," known as the pen/pin merger — is disappearing in the big Texas cities, while remaining common in rural areas, Dr. Tillery said. Texans in the prairie may shell out "tin cints," but not their metropolitan brethren.

Urban Texas is abandoning the "y" sound after "n," "d" and "t," exchanging dipthongs for monophthongs. So folks in the cities read a "noospaper" — what their rural counterparts call a "nyewspaper." They'll hum a "tyewn" on the range, a "toon" in Houston. The upgliding dipthong, too, is an endangered species in the cities, where a country "dawg" is just a dog.

Why city Texans, more than country folk, should disdain to write with a "pin" is not clear, although it seems that some pronunciations carry a stigma of unsophistication while others do not.

It was such mixed patterns that suggested the emergence of a new dialect on the West Texas plains, Dr. Tillery said.

Other idiosyncrasies have all but vanished over time. Texans for the most part no longer pray to the "Lard," replacing the "o" with an "a," or "warsh" their clothes. How the interloping "r" crept in remains an especially intriguing question, Dr. Bailey said. Trying to trace the peculiarity, he asked Texans to name the capital of the United States, often drawing the unhelpful answer "Austin."

The opposite syndrome, known as r-lessness, which renders "four" as "foah" in Texas and elsewhere, is easier to trace, Dr. Bailey said. In the early days of the republic, plantation owners sent their children to England for schooling. "They came back without the `r,' " he said.

"The parents were saying, listen to this, this is something we have to have, so we'll all become r-less," he said. The craze went down the East Coast from Boston to Virginia (skipping Philadelphia, for some reason) and migrating selectively around the country.

Other common Texas locutions that replace an "s" with a "d" — "bidness" for "business," "waddn" for "wasn't" — are simply matters of mechanical efficiency, Dr. Bailey said. "With `n' and `d' the tongue stays in the same position," he said. "It's ease of articulation."

So even "fixin' to" becomes "fidden to" or "fith'n to." And fixin' to — where did that come from, anyway?

"Who knows?" Dr. Bailey said.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Front Page News; News/Current Events; US: Texas
KEYWORDS: allyall; dialects; linguistics; melungeon; messnwithtexas; yall
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Hmmm...I always thought "fixin' to" was from North Carolina. Oh well...
1 posted on 11/28/2003 6:06:43 AM PST by Pharmboy
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To: Pharmboy
or fiddin to....people always ask me about my accent...i tell 'em i don't have an accent, i have been talking this way all my life...you are the one that sounds phunny.
2 posted on 11/28/2003 6:11:47 AM PST by cajun-jack
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To: Pharmboy
Why is it always the South whose accent is treated like a foreign language? I'd love to see this sort of effort put into the "yous guys" New England perversion of the language.
3 posted on 11/28/2003 6:16:18 AM PST by The_Victor
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To: Pharmboy
Makes me want to call and talk to my cousin Jane. I grew up in Texas and have something of an accent (or can at least pull it out of my unconsciousness when I need to) but Jane has the total full blown accent with that extra "y" and everything. It's wonderful to listen to but you had better have a lot of time because there's no hurrying the conversation.
4 posted on 11/28/2003 6:18:52 AM PST by Mercat
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To: Pharmboy
These students are sort of re-inventing the wheel, linguistically. There was a study done in Chelsea, Michigan back in the 1980s that showed already that those with the strongest accents have the most positive attitude toward their home. Kind of common sense stuff anyway, really. Oh well, gotta write a thesis on something, ah s'pose.
5 posted on 11/28/2003 6:20:44 AM PST by wizardoz ("They're not Americans; they're Democrats." -NetValue)
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To: Pharmboy
Texas bump
6 posted on 11/28/2003 6:34:58 AM PST by Nita Nupress
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To: Mercat
... but Jane has the total full blown accent with that extra "y" and everything.

My wife was born and reared in Ellis County, Texas -- the county due south of Dallas County.

In the mid-80's, we were visiting friends in Vienna, Austria, and attended a worship service at a church which ministered to English-speakers in the city (a large population there, made up of UN employees, OPEC personnel, business and diplomatic people, and -- at that time -- a considerable contingent of Christian missionaries who lived in Vienna but ministered behind the Iron Curtain).

Our host told us, "You must meet Reid and Betty. They're from Texas too." Reid and Betty had lived in Vienna over 25 years, and Reid was a Kammersanger in the Vienna State Opera. Upon being introduced, my wife's first words to Reid, "I'm very pleased to meet you." Without batting an eye, Reid responded, "You're from Ellis County, Texas."

Reid, of course, had an excellent ear for such things, needing a good ear for accents in order to do his work of singing in several Eupopean langauges. As it turns out, he grew up in North Texas, a couple of counties to the East of Ellis County. In his day, he claimed, one could recognize an Ellis County native by his accent. And my wife had it, according to Reid.

Many years later, when we settled in Ellis County, I saw a notice in the paper for a voice audition for an agency producing radio commercials. Thinking it would be fun, I showed up. I quickly learned I was exactly what they were NOT looking for. My English is ruthlessly Standard American (according to my daughter, majoring in linguistics). Headquartered in Dallas, this agency makes periodic auditioning forays into Ellis County, in order to find thick, unmistakeably rural, Texas accents for the radio commercials which require that sort of thing.

So, it seems that even perched on the edge of the Metroplex, Ellis County still preserves an abiding accent among its natives.

7 posted on 11/28/2003 6:35:34 AM PST by Brandybux
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To: Pharmboy
Hmmm...I always thought "fixin' to" was from North Carolina. Oh well...

More Slander from the Easterns...Y'all. :))

8 posted on 11/28/2003 6:37:48 AM PST by skinkinthegrass (Just because you're paranoid,doesn't mean they aren't out to get you. :)
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To: The_Victor
I think they probably do study other regional accents. I've been told the New Yorkers are the only people who wait "on" line, not "in" and we often use the phrase "off of" where plain "off" would be acceptable.

A lovely gal from Alabama once told me that saying "fixin' to" is the ultimate Southern Expression.

One phrase I picked up right here on the threads, which I love and use all the time now is "good on ya", it's much better than what I used to say "good for you", which of course I still use sometimes. Now I have two useful shades of meaning, before I only had one. I was advised "good on ya" is Australian.

9 posted on 11/28/2003 6:39:19 AM PST by jocon307 (The Dems don't get it, the American people do.)
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To: The_Victor
"Why is it always the South whose accent is treated like a foreign language? I'd love to see this sort of effort put into the "yous guys" New England perversion of the language."

Well, it must be 'cause we sound so much better to lis'n to! Ain't nobody fixin' tuh waste a lot o' time lis'nin' to no Damn Yankees nohow. Who'd you rather spend a' hour lis'nin' to, Lindsey Graham or Barney Frank?

10 posted on 11/28/2003 6:39:48 AM PST by RipSawyer (Mercy on a pore boy lemme have a dollar bill!)
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To: Pharmboy
It's really strange that in the US and UK there's a real difference in accent depending on what part of the country you come from but in Australia we haven't got that. You could have three people, one from Sydney, one from Darwin, and the other from Perth (in the US it would be akin to New York, Fort Worth, and LA) and you wouldn't be able to tell who was from where.
11 posted on 11/28/2003 6:40:30 AM PST by Dundee (They gave all their tomorrow’s for our today’s.)
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To: Mercat
Traditional Texas speech is predominantly Upper South in origin, with some Midwestern and Lower South influences, depending on where in Texas you are. Along the Gulf Coast, Alabamians, Mississippians, and Georgians were important in the area's settlement. The Panhandle, the Red River Valley, and North Texas had large numbers of settlers from Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, and Kansas, Overall, Tennessee was the largest contributor of people to the Texas population and contributed more than any other state to the defenders of the Alamo. I have met people in southern West Virginia whose pronunciations sound almost Texan. The speech of the Upper South, especially Appalachia, was strongly influenced by the Scotch-Irish, with some English and German input. Virginia's Shenandoah Valley was the first area where Upper South speech developed, as Scotch-Irish and Pennsylania Dutch mixed with English settlers from Tidewater Virginia.

Overall, Texan and Southern English are more conservative and truer to the English of the King James Bible and Shakespeare than are the urban dialects of the East Coast cities, which are strongly affected by Italian, Yiddish, and Slavic speech patterns.

12 posted on 11/28/2003 6:41:11 AM PST by Wallace T.
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To: Pharmboy
The upgliding dipthong

Monica has moved to Texas?
13 posted on 11/28/2003 6:42:36 AM PST by tet68
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To: Mercat
The border between east Texas (where the Dixie dialect of Texan is spoken) and north Texas (where the Midwest dialect reigns) is at the junction of I-30E and the I-635 loop in Mesquite, Texas, immediately east of Dallas. Folks east of that point say "warsh" (wash) and "naw" (no), and call iced tea "ahhs tay". Further east, behind the Pine Curtain that separates east Texas proper from the rest of the state, the speech patterns are amost entirely those of the deep South: "yeller" for yellow, "cobeer" for beer, etc.

In Dallas proper, people tend to speak with a flat, midwestern inflection, and say "you guys" along with "y'all". In fact, the presence of the east Texas inflection in one's speech is taken as evidence that the speaker is a hick.

I myself am from Dallas and generally use the Midwest inflection. However, when I visit my family in Tyler, I begin to speak with the east Texas accent. I don't know why this is.

14 posted on 11/28/2003 6:46:34 AM PST by B-Chan (Catholic. Monarchist. Texan. Any questions?)
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To: Brandybux
"As it turns out, he grew up in North Texas, a couple of counties to the East of Ellis County. In his day, he claimed, one could recognize an Ellis County native by his accent."

I was born and raised in South Carolina and took a job in South Carolina fifty miles from my birth place in 1972 and people started saying,"you didn't grow up here, did you?" Alas, now everyone is sounding the same.
15 posted on 11/28/2003 6:46:39 AM PST by RipSawyer (Mercy on a pore boy lemme have a dollar bill!)
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To: Pharmboy
Hey Ralph Blumenthal,

You're attempt to make southerns and Texans look stupid and uneducated is just another hit piece from the Liberal NYTimes.
There is a new south and it is mostly Republican now! Eat your heart out!

Oh! By the way, Did ya'll happen to catch dat Texan having Thanksgiving turkey with our troups in Bagdad! huh?

16 posted on 11/28/2003 6:48:54 AM PST by TexasCajun
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To: RipSawyer
Well, it must be 'cause we sound so much better to lis'n to! Ain't nobody fixin' tuh waste a lot o' time lis'nin' to no Damn Yankees nohow. Who'd you rather spend a' hour lis'nin' to, Lindsey Graham or Barney Frank?

Now why'd you go an do that? I spent all that energy getting worked up over disperate treatment of the South, and you disarm me in three sentences. Dangit! I was enjoying that chip on my shoulder.

Oh well, thanks anyway.

17 posted on 11/28/2003 6:50:18 AM PST by The_Victor
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To: tet68
"The upgliding dipthong

Monica has moved to Texas?"

I have to get my breath back after reading that, it has so many connotations I need a legal pad to list them.
18 posted on 11/28/2003 6:50:18 AM PST by RipSawyer (Mercy on a pore boy lemme have a dollar bill!)
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To: Pharmboy; Nightshift
ping
19 posted on 11/28/2003 6:52:37 AM PST by tutstar
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To: Pharmboy
The problem with all this is we're so often misunderstood. Some years ago at the Amon Carter Museum in Ft. Worth, (It sits on a slight rise and is approached by a set of rather wide and steep concrete steps),there was a very large group of Japanese business people from Japan who were visiting the exibits there. When they were leaving and had already reached the bottom of the steps, the docent, who was standing at the top finally remembered to say our usual parting words. "Y'all come back now." It was then the entire Japanese delegation turned around and dutifully climbed back up to the top of the steps.

And then there was the new journalist on an east Texas newspaper who was initiated to the newspaper business by being assigned to write obituaries. He reported that a recently departed man had been, "a tar saleman." The family threatened to sue the paper for the ignorance of some upstart Easterner confusing an automobile "tar" salesman with someone who merely sold asphalt.

And lastly, the notion that Austin is the capitol of the United States is probably shared by most Texans. To wit: All directions begin there. No matter what part of Texas one lives in, when traveling, we all say, we're going "up" to Amarillo (that's north of Austin), "out" to El Paso (west) or "down" to Houston (south).
20 posted on 11/28/2003 6:53:55 AM PST by texaslil
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To: Brandybux
Good tale! If you want a REalll Texas Drwallll...

Visit around WACO! Just a bit further south.
21 posted on 11/28/2003 6:56:32 AM PST by steplock (www.FOCUS.GOHOTSPRINGS.com)
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To: Wallace T.
One has to take into consideration the Melongeon influence on the population. Many who came "over the Avery" (the trail through NC and East Tenn that is now US 70 and I-40) included them. They settled first in northern Alabama, Mississippi and East and Middle-Tenn. After the Civil War, a number migrated to Texas.

I always thought when I heard someone from the Panhandle or the Red River talk about having a "Cherokee grandma" it was just as likely they had a Melongeon ancestor.

I had a girlfriend from the Panhandle who looks Scots-Irish but with olive skin. People thought she was Jewish. I have olive skin and when I was in India, the locals though I was an Anglo-Indian from Delhi.

Not that these observations have much to do with speech patterns, but it explains a little about who many Texans are.
22 posted on 11/28/2003 7:02:26 AM PST by lavrenti ("Tell your momma and your poppa, sometimes good guys don't wear white." The Standells)
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To: Mercat
Much like the Ents in Tolkein, in Texas, it ain't worth sayin it if it don't take a long time to say it.
23 posted on 11/28/2003 7:04:37 AM PST by nhoward14 (Don't *MISS* out on *ROOTING* for *THE* Cowboys! Go *QUINCY*)
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To: Pharmboy
All Americans, even if they're from the South and 'stupid,' should be represented," - Wesley Clark
24 posted on 11/28/2003 7:05:50 AM PST by steplock (www.FOCUS.GOHOTSPRINGS.com)
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To: tet68
Nobody mentioned "yuns" Ohio-midwest, contraction of you-un's as in "yuns gonna meet us there, or what?"

Listen to upperclass British accents. There are words that don't seem to differ in accent from the American South: "War" springs to mind.

While the southern accents are often endearing, and, when spoken by, respectivly, men or woman are the eptoime of masculinity and feminity (Go figure), New Yorks phrases and accents seem to either baffle ("I could care less!") or amuse ("fuhgedabboudit" or"whaddayadointameovahheah").
25 posted on 11/28/2003 7:05:58 AM PST by TalBlack ("Tal, no song means anything without someone else...")
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To: Pharmboy
Next Ms. Aguilar quizzed Mr. Greer on a lexicon of Texas words and phrases. Had he ever heard the expression "y'all?"

They actually asked a 70-year old native Texan this question?

26 posted on 11/28/2003 7:06:26 AM PST by Dog Gone
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To: Allegra
Ping-A-Roonie, Y'All...
27 posted on 11/28/2003 7:09:38 AM PST by JennysCool
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To: Pharmboy
Any other Texas ever heard of "yonder"? When my husband and I lived 4 years in Nashville, besides the obliging y'all and fixin to, his entire office were in stitches to hear him say he lived "out yonder" (pointing to the county to the south). Out yonder sounds like "ow-chonder." Can be used like "Take that thing out yonder."
28 posted on 11/28/2003 7:14:22 AM PST by NTegraT
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To: Pharmboy
I wonder when the Tahms will take such a in-depth look at the gibberish they speak in N'yawk. What are Texans, some kinda lingustic sahd-show that the hah and mahty can come down and stare at? Hope they didn't get nuthin' on they fancy loafers whilst they was a-gawkin' at the rubes.

Maybe it's just me, but this here awticle sounds a trahfle patronizing.

29 posted on 11/28/2003 7:14:24 AM PST by IronJack
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To: wizardoz
30 years ago I worked running a mobile navigational radio station in locations all over the south.

I was born in South Carolina, my mother's family is from North Carolina, My father's from Memphis.I had little trouble with accents.

Then I had a location near Plain Dealing, Louisiana, just across the river from Texas. Predominantly a poor rural black population, I could not understand what they said, nor they, me. I had to have a translator -- the daughter of a black minister/famer who had worked in Los Angeles.

It was a strange experience. I have always wanted to see a linquistic study the area and to tell me the origin of the local dialect. I suspect it may have been an African language. It did not seem to be the creole one associates with Louisiana.
30 posted on 11/28/2003 7:15:53 AM PST by Wisconsin
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To: TalBlack
I know people from the Tidewater who sound English.
31 posted on 11/28/2003 7:20:37 AM PST by lavrenti ("Tell your momma and your poppa, sometimes good guys don't wear white." The Standells)
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To: texaslil
I beg to differ. It would be "Over" to Houston and "Down" to San Antonio.

Æ
32 posted on 11/28/2003 7:23:56 AM PST by AgentEcho (If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went. - Will Rogers)
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To: The_Victor
I remember when my aunt, uncle and cousins--Texas ex-pats from Michigan--came to visit us one summer. I don't think I'd ever met anyone from outside Texas in person at that young age, and I was repulsed and offended by my cousin--older than me by a year--and the way he spoke. "Hey, do you guys want to come oatside to the backyerd and play with my toy kerrs and trucks?"

I'd never been called a "guy" until then. Of course, the fact that they'd never been taught to say "Sir" and Ma'am" didn't score big hits with my parents, either. They were doomed from the beginning when they came driving up our driveway in a Volkswagen bug, and my dad decided right then and there that they must be Communists because "good" Americans would have been driving Chevies, Fords, or Chryslers.

33 posted on 11/28/2003 7:48:08 AM PST by hispanarepublicana (Mr. Fox, give us our water!!!)
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To: TalBlack
Nobody mentioned "yuns" Ohio-midwest, contraction of you-un's as in "yuns gonna meet us there, or what?"

I always considered "yuns" to be a West Virginia import and pretty rarely spoken in Ohio.
34 posted on 11/28/2003 7:48:28 AM PST by mylife
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To: Wallace T.
I was born in a small mountain town on the eastern Kentucky and southwestern West Virginia border. Obviously, I developed a "mountain twang". Through the years, I've lived in Texas and south Alabama. Much that I read in this article is what I've heard in all of these places.

When I lived in Ft Worth, the message I recorded on my answering machine was a source of much merriment for many of my friends and relatives back "east". Note: a "ranchette" is five acres or less. My message replete with twang went thus: "Howdy partner, you've reached the ______ ranchette. I'm out on the back 4 rite now, but your call is mighty important to me, so at the sound of the cattle call, leave me a message an I'll git rite back to you. Pronto. Audios. I had many messages that contained nothing but the sound of the caller's breathing while they listened to my message, followed by outbursts of laughter.

Ah luv this langwidge.
35 posted on 11/28/2003 7:50:18 AM PST by miele man
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To: NTegraT
Any other Texas ever heard of "yonder"?

HEARD it? Hell, we USE it every day in my house. Only, we say, "You're looking for your boots? They're over-yonder in the back of the garage." But, other times, it's used alone, as in, "Honey, yonder in the far side of the den is a spider. Can you please kill it? Because, I'm fixin' to scream if you don't."

36 posted on 11/28/2003 7:54:26 AM PST by hispanarepublicana (Mr. Fox, give us our water!!!)
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To: Pharmboy
One of my favorite Texas colloquialisms is "Pallet", basically an improvised bed, sleeping bag or blanket on the floor. "Pa, kin we sleep on a pallet 'n front uh the TV tonaht?"
37 posted on 11/28/2003 7:54:28 AM PST by mylife
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To: IronJack
What are Texans, some kinda lingustic sahd-show that the hah and mahty can come down and stare at?

"I've always wondered just WHAT THE HELL IS THAT BAAHSTON ACCENT ABOUT, ANYWAY?"

38 posted on 11/28/2003 7:56:47 AM PST by hispanarepublicana (Mr. Fox, give us our water!!!)
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To: nhoward14
it ain't worth sayin it if it don't take a long time to say it.

As long as I can remember, I have prefaced any new bout of conversation with a little history, or justification, or providing of sources for what I am about to say.  It has to come from insecurity of some sort, I'm sure.  Anyway, I went into my boss's office once and began the verbal groundwork to tell him what I was going to tell him.  It finally got to him, I guess, because he interrupted me to say, "Shut up and talk!"

Then we both took on a startled look realizing what he had said, and cracked up.
39 posted on 11/28/2003 7:57:15 AM PST by gcruse (http://gcruse.typepad.com/)
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To: Pharmboy
There never was a 'Texas' accent.

Fourty years ago I could tell where any Texas native I met came from within 50 miles based on their accent. The accents were so different that, for instance, thse with a 'Brazos Bottom' accent from 50 miles Southwest of Houston and those with a 'Galveston' accent from 75 miles to the Northeast of there found it very difficult to understand each other.

All that is left of Texas accents, or Southern accents, is a tiny whisper of what they once were.

That is why Southerners and Texans almost always laugh at movie accents.

So9

40 posted on 11/28/2003 8:01:16 AM PST by Servant of the 9 (Real Texicans; we're grizzled, we're grumpy and we're armed)
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To: Pharmboy
Can I also just say that I called a Washington D.C. federal agency one day, and I couldn't understand a single thing the young lady of African American descent who answered the phone was saying? Additionally, my luggage was lost as I arrived for some international travel in Asia a few years ago, and I spent a good amount of time dealing with the airline/airport employees there at the airport, and I dealt with them again as my bags were searched for the return trip. When I landed in San Francisco, I was stunned by my observation that the airport/airline employees in Asia spoke better, more clear, English than the ones of various ethnicities at the San Francisco airport!
41 posted on 11/28/2003 8:03:33 AM PST by hispanarepublicana (Mr. Fox, give us our water!!!)
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To: Wisconsin
Did you find out anything about the origins of the population? Had they by chance come up from Central America somewhere?
42 posted on 11/28/2003 8:04:52 AM PST by wizardoz ("They're not Americans; they're Democrats." -NetValue)
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To: Pharmboy; WhyisaTexasgirlinPA
Texas ping
43 posted on 11/28/2003 8:08:08 AM PST by SeeRushToldU_So (Happy B'day Tex!)
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To: lavrenti
The Melungeon "hearth" in southwestern Virginia and adjacent areas of North Carolina, Tennessee, and Kentucky lies just south of the Upper Southern homeland of the Shenandoah Valley. While the Melungeons may have suffered discrimination in Appalachia, most of that was lost when they migrated westward. Elvis Presley and Abraham Lincoln were both partially of Melugeon ancestry.

In the last Texas governor's race, the "white" Republican candidate, Rick Perry (BTW, isn't Perry a common Melungeon name?) was darker complected than the "minority" Democrat candidate, Tony Sanchez, who was very obviously of the Caucasian race, with fair skin, blue eyes, and, at a younger age, light brown hair.

Where the Melungeons came from has never been settled. I have heard that Tay-Sachs disease, a marker of Jewish ethnicity, has been found among them. One particular Melungeon could have been used as a body double for Sadaam Hussein. Tay-Sachs disease has also been found among the Pennsylvania Dutch. There is the belief that some of the Amish and Mennonites may have been converted Jews. The scene in the movie "Witness" where the Amish boy, lost in the Philadelphia train station, finds a Hassidic Jew, thinking him to be a fellow Amishman, may be less ironic than the movie's producers thought.

44 posted on 11/28/2003 8:17:11 AM PST by Wallace T.
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To: IronJack
I wonder when the Tahms will take such a in-depth look at the gibberish they speak in N'yawk.

Because it's too new. Until 150 years ago, the educated accent in New York, Philladelphia , or Boston was almost identical to an upper class Virginia accent, or an upper class English accent.

SO9

45 posted on 11/28/2003 8:17:32 AM PST by Servant of the 9 (Real Texicans; we're grizzled, we're grumpy and we're armed)
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To: Brandybux
My husbands father was born in Ellis Co. but they moved on. My mothers family settled in east Texas 2 years before Stephen F. Austin arrived with his colonist. We still have some family members living in the area where the original homeplace was located. They have some rural accents, want you to know! I of course, do not. ;9}
46 posted on 11/28/2003 8:19:49 AM PST by Ditter
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To: TalBlack
This has nothing to do with speech as such but note one section in your post: While the southern accents are often endearing, and, when spoken by, respectivly, men or woman are the eptoime of masculinity and feminity (Go figure), New Yorks phrases and accents seem to either baffle ("I could care less!") or amuse ("fuhgedabboudit" or"whaddayadointameovahheah").

I have always been puzzled by "I could care less" since it is illogical. What the speaker is actually trying to say is "I could NOT care less" to indicate that he or she is so indifferent to your plight that it is impossible for them to care anything at all.

47 posted on 11/28/2003 8:20:25 AM PST by OldPossum
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To: SeeRushToldU_So
Thanks for the ping Georgia Boy...... y'all understand all about those great words like fixin to and woodja.....

"I'm fixin to go shoppin, woodja like to come along?"

48 posted on 11/28/2003 8:22:52 AM PST by WhyisaTexasgirlinPA
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To: mylife
Yuns, or rather its variant, yins, is pretty common around Pittsburgh, the town that eastern Pennsylanians think is the largest city in West Virginia. Yuns/yins is a vestigal usage that in many areas, like the Missouri Ozarks, has been replaced by ya'll.
49 posted on 11/28/2003 8:23:03 AM PST by Wallace T.
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To: hispanarepublicana
"I've always wondered just WHAT THE HELL IS THAT BAAHSTON ACCENT ABOUT, ANYWAY?"

An accent that nobody, NOBODY outside of natives can do properly in movies. It's also disappearing quite rapidly, but it's very old. If you read any of Paul Revere's original writing you can "hear" the accent even way back then, because Revere spelled words like he spoke them.

A true Boston accent is heard as far west as I-495, as far north as Salem, NH, and as far south as, say, New Bedfid. The crap that comes out of Ted Kennedy's mouth is not a Boston accent. Kennedy sounds like a picklesmootcher pretending to be from Harvard pretending to be Thurston Howell III.

50 posted on 11/28/2003 8:24:58 AM PST by Hemingway's Ghost
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