Discover Austin: Talk Like A Texan - Episode 32
Greetings, Y'all! I'm fixin' to teach you how to Talk Like A Texan for this episode of Discover Austin. Instead of introducing you to a landmark, event, or icon of Austin, this week Ima teach you some key words and phrases that all Texans use.
Texans have a distinct type of speech and I’m not just a talking about the well-known drawl. Over the years, as many folks have moved from out of state to the large Texas cities, the language has been diluted. The stereotypical accent is nowadays much more prevalent in East Texas, West Texas, and small towns everywhere. But you don’t need the accent to talk like a Texan, you just need the right vocabulary.
First and foremost, is the granddaddy of Texas-speak: y’all. It’s used in the plural form, but it’s not for all plural situations because at some point, you need to switch to “all y’all.” For example, if I’m talking to one person, I might say “Let's go down to The Broken Spoke?” With two to four people, "Hey y’all let's go down to The Broken Spoke?” For a bigger group it'd be “Hey all ya'll, lets go down to The Broken Spoke?” Now the line designating the size of the group between y’all and all y’all isn’t definitive and good Texans can disagree about the point at which the switch is made. So just forget about using “you guys” around here. Seriously, y’all just sounds much more pleasant.
Ok, now I’m fixin’ to move on to fixin’ to. While it’s spelled as fixin’ to, you pronounce it fixin’ tuh. It’s simply an expression used to announce your intent. I’m fixin’ to get a breakfast taco. I’m fixin’ to mow the lawn. It’s also good to occasionally throw in an I’ma such as I’m’a fixin’ to get even with him. So throw out your “I’m going tos” and “I about tos” and start fixin’ tuh.
You’ll notice that it isn’t Fixing To. That transitions well into the next thing you should know, which is that Texans don’t have much use for the g in an -ing ending. A simple I, N, apostrophe will be just fine. For example, “I’m competin’ in a fishin’ tournament this weekend.”
Now, Texans like to be polite. Which means we need a nice way to insult someone. That’s why we have the phrase “Bless your heart.” Of course, “Bless her heart, his heart” they all work. Let’s say you witness someone do something pretty stupid, the best response is just to say, “Bless her heart.”
Howdy is a well-known Texas word. Though you won’t find a lot of people using it in the city, they certainly won’t hold it against you if you do. But make sure it's genuine or should I say, genu-wine, because if people know it isn’t sincere, there’s gonna be a Bless His Heart whispered behind your back. Personally, I’m a Greetings guy, so I rarely use Howdy.
Now, of course, Texas uses the traditional English measurement system with mile, gallon, inches, etc. But you may not be familiar with one particular measure of distance that we have here in Texas – yonder. There is no definitive length as to how long a yonder is. Some will say yonder is just over the next hill. Others will say its as far as they can see. Personally, for me, its simply the distance of whatever I am pointin’ to. Proper usage would be “Enchanted Rock is just over yonder” or “He was over yonder when he stepped in the fire ant mound.” Again, its subjective, but it does have to be off in the distance a ways.
So hopefully you now have a beginners grasp of the Texas language. It certainly doesn’t make you a Texan yet, but it’s a start. I’m Craig Smyser, thanks for joinin’ me on this episode of Discover Austin.