Texas is the land of ‘y’all’. I’d like to think I fit in when it comes to use of the local colloquialism, but I know I don’t because everyone still refers to me as “the California gal”.
A while back I wrote a post about a few of the colloquialisms found around the country, We Say Dude In These Here Parts. It was prompted by both my fascination with local colloquialisms and a friend visiting California from Meeneesooota.
Words you’ll need to know when coming to Texas.
‘Y’all’ is a conjunction of “you all”. Not usually said to an individual unless referring to that person’s family (who may not be present at the moment).
‘All y’all’ is the plural of the above.
Whataburger is a very popular fast food restaurant here in Texas. Regardless of how the word looks, it is pronounced – very quickly – ‘Waterbuger’. It took me a month to figure out what they were talking about.
Beall’s a department store, like a cross between Kohl’s and Macy’s, is pronounced ‘Bell’s’. The “a” is ignored.
San Antonio is referred to as ‘San Antone’. It was like that in Malibu, too, the locals called it ‘Bu’.
There’s a town near Rockport spelled Tivoli, like the city in Italy. However, it is pronounced ‘Tyvoli’ or ‘Tyvola’.
There’s another called Refugio, but it is pronounced ‘Refurio’. With a second “r”.
Boerne – I’ll give you a second to guess at that one. Ready? It’s pronounced ‘Bernie’, like the man’s name.
You are now ready to ask for directions in Texas.
Don’t say this in Texas…
One gentleman, a Texas-born-and-bred friend, was appalled when a woman walked up to a mixed-gender group and greeted them, “Hi, guys!” While recounting the story to me he exclaimed, “There were women in the group!”
That’s a common greeting in California – to a group of any gender. Although, I probably wouldn’t say it to a group of just women. “Hi, Guys” is also a salutation I use when composing a casual email to a group of friends and family.
Or, at least it used to be. I’m going to stop using it now so as not to offend my Texas friends.
The topic of accents came up twice in the last couple days when to two different people – at different times – I said, “I probably sound like I have an accent to you, too, huh?”
In both cases I got a blank stare in reply. My Texas-born-and-bred friend, with the most charming, deep, southern accent I’ve heard yet, asked me with all sincerity if I thought he had an accent. (While asking me this he pronounced the word ‘ecksint’.)
I giggled. Then I realized he was serious.
As a demonstration, I pronounced it the way them “Damned Yankee” west-coasters say it, ‘aksent’. Then I said it again, in my best imitation of a southern ecksint. Not sure if he heard a difference. Maybe I sound like a Texan.
The gentlemen call every woman “ma’am”. ‘Yes, ma’am. No, ma’am.’ This. makes. me. swoon.
It did NOT make me swoon in California, or even Arizona, because it always said by some polite teenager in deference to our age difference. Not so in Texas. They’re just polite no matter what you’re age. Texans are genuinely kind and polite folks.
How to drive in Texas.
Fast. That’s it. Drive fast. The speed limit is 70 mph on most highways, and 80 mph on the others.
Polite. Texans are also very polite on the road. They respect other driver’s need for speed and will drive on the shoulder so you can pass. Yes, they all do this. A friendly wave is appreciated in return, or a flash of the tail lights.
Of course, if you have a golf cart, it should look like this… I’ve seen quite a few golf carts decorated with longhorns.
Winter Texans Are Snowbirds, Too.
“Winter Texans”, as they are known here, are really just RV snowbirds who spend their winters in Texas rather than somewhere else, such as Florida, Arizona or the California desert. As far as I can tell, everywhere else in the U.S. and Canada, people living the winter RV lifestyle are called snowbirds. I think Texans allow them to be called “Winter Texans” as a consolation prize since they’re never going to be real Texans no matter how many winters they spend here.
So, I’m a Damned Yankee Winter Texan who fergot to leave when the season ended, also known as “that California gal”. But they say it with a smile because they’re very polite.
I have more than a few readers from Texas and I’d love to hear from y’all in the comments. What is it that makes Texans so proud and protective of their state? What other colloquialisms have I missed, or misused?
UPDATED: I forgot important storm lingo. How could I forget storm lingo? OMG.
About the Big Texas Storms
You’ll need to know “TORCON”. While I don’t know exactly what it stands for, I do know it’s got something to do with the severity of impending tornadoes. This is very important. The word is shown on the weather news with a fraction next to it. A TORCON rating may be displayed as “4/10”. This seems to mean there’s a 40% chance of a tornado in that area. If you see a TORCON rating of 6/10, let’s say, I’d run for the hills.
Also, while driving the highway if you see a little swirly thing painted on the outside lane, it means this is not one of those lanes you can use to move over for faster drivers. It’s for running from hurricanes. Do not use this lane unless there is a hurricane behind you.
I’d say you are now ready for the Texas storms, but I’d be lying. You’ll never be ready for the Texas storms. They still scare the crap out of me.