My experience in travelling throughout the world has always been a lot of fun with our accent and, especially, at our workplace due to phone calls from all over the world. After you make a statement, the first reply is – she is from Texas. After that – they continue asking questions about our state just to hear you speak. In Texas, we also talk about how the folks from New York area speak which is also different in their accent.
So, you see – it is not only Texans who have an accent.
On one particular tour overseas, we were touring with a number of people from Australia. The first question was – where are you from? My answer would always be – WE ARE FROM THE UNITED STATES. Their reply in most instances would be. No, what state – and, I would say, TEXAS; AND, and their rely would be – Then, you are from TEXAS – not the United States. TEXAS is a country of its own. My reply, “if you say so!”
In Texas we have a lot of different cultures – like people from Mexico who do talk fast and do not use any punctuation in their speaking. The Chinese also speak fast and do not use punctuation. The nice thing about language – you can learn a lot from other folks who speak differently.
How do you say ‘hello’ in Texan?
Jillian Smith Feb 18, 2023 0
Regional accents are disappearing.
This includes our beloved Texas accent.
According to a report by the Los Angeles Times, “Back in the 1980s, about 80% of Texans interviewed by researchers at UT Austin, including many students, had traditional Texas accents. Now that’s down to a third. The uniquely Texas manner of speech is being displaced and modified by General American English, the generic, Midwestern dialect often heard on television.”
The Texas accent with its attenuated vowels and hard Rs (at least in my native Northeast Texas) is unique to the United States. While the different areas of Texas vary in its population’s speech, it has been influenced overall by people immigrating here from Germany and Mexico and, to some extent in particular to the eastern area of the state, the Southern U.S.
Rebecca Gausnell, a professional dialect coach, identifies two specific dialects in Texas.
“The first is the Lowland accent, which can be heard in the east and on the gulf, such as in and around Houston. The second is the Inland accent, which can be heard in Central Texas and in west Texas, like in Dallas and San Antonio,” she said.
I don’t agree with that. There’s three; I’d add the East Texas areas for the aforementioned attenuated vowels and hard Rs.
John Gunther asked, “If a man’s from Texas, he’ll tell you. If not, why embarrass him by asking?”
The Texas accent is a dead giveaway to another Texan, regardless where in the world they meet. I was never asked, when living in the Deep South, what part of Georgia or Alabama I was from. It was always, “Are you from Texas?”
And I wear my accent proudly.
When studying phonetics in college, the other students and I were tasked with recording our voices using the Midwestern accent, often referred to as not having an accent.
In another class, History of the English Language (which is way more interesting than it sounds, or maybe I just had a good professor), we learned that the Southern accent, and by extension that beautiful Texas accent, elicited the response of “Nice but stupid,” according to the professor (who also happened to be from Georgia).
The study contended that the non-Southerner in the conversation was so fixated on the sound of the speaker’s voice, their accent and use of idioms, that they didn’t hear what was being said. The solution, according to the study, was that Southerners needed to stop talking like Southerners in order to succeed, particularly in professional careers.
Back in the phonetics class, that is exactly what we were being taught.
I didn’t understand it at the time, but I wasn’t comfortable with nixing my accent altogether.
Then, I watched an interview of Dan Rather. (I think it was on “The Late Show with David Letterman”; however, I’ve not been able to locate the video since.) Rather is a Texan. Since he was the one being interviewed, he allowed himself to talk as he would when not on any of his news broadcasts. And he has a Texas accent.
His argument for retaining it was, in effect, because he’s Texan.
I changed my mind about phonetically correct speech before the end of that interview.
When we hear someone speaking differently than ourselves, we get a picture in our mind of that person based on just the sound.
Our sports guy, Robert Brewer, is a New Yorker. He’s proud of being a New Yorker, and you can still hear that recognizable New York accent.
Scripps News reported, “For example, the New Yorker accent is one of the most visible regional accents in American culture, frequently being immortalized in TV and film, like with Dustin Hoffman’s famous line, ‘Hey, I’m walkin’ here!’”
(Yes, we asked Robert to say that. Several times. We found it entertaining.)
The disappearance of accents isn’t unique to Texas, or even the United States. It’s happening in many countries, where citizens are beginning to speak in a more uniform way throughout their respective countries. In the U.S., it happens to be the generic, Midwestern accent.
An argument could be made that these accents aren’t really disappearing but are changing, as people are more mobile than we used to be. When moving from one region of the U.S. to another, we adapt our speech so that we’re better understood. You might order a pop to drink in Indiana, but in Texas, we’ll have a coke.
There was a fun little survey online conducted by The Writing Tips Institute (https://writingtips.org/state-dialect-quiz) that concluded that 64% of Texans are for a law protecting the Texas dialect. I hope that would include the accent.
There are so many influences and side conversations to have on this, from urban vs. rural accents to the impact of Tejano on our Texas language.
But I can’t imagine saying, “howdy,” sounding like a New Yorker or Mideasterner.
Say it like a native: Howdy! And that’s how you say “hello” in Texan.