When she was little, I asked my daughter if she wanted to learn to “talk Texan.” Of course, being a young lady of good breeding with sturdy Texas genes, she agreed immediately. Here’s how it went.
Dad: “Have you eaten yet?”
Daughter: “Why no, I haven’t, thanks for asking.”
Dad: “Do you want to go with me to get something to eat?”
Daughter: “Why yes I would, I really appreciate it.”
Dad: “Well, then let’s go.”
Daughter: “Okay, I believe I will.”
There are grammatical rules in Texas that you sometimes have to explain to folks who are not sufficiently educated. Although the word, y’all, is a contraction for you all, it’s not always reserved for groups. If you see an individual that you know well but haven’t seen in a while, you might ask, “How y’all doin’?” If it were a couple that you happened to run into and you were asking about their family, you might use the possessive form… “How’s y’all’s dogs?” If there are a number of people present, you might say something like, “How’s all y’all doin’?” And of course, if you were to then inquire about their canines, you would use the possessive plural, asking, “How’s all y’all’s dogs?”
Another rule of Texas grammar is that when the letters, “ing” appear at the end of a word, the “g” is silent. Thus, the word, nothing, becomes nothin’, or parting becomes partin’ (as in “partin’ is such sweet sorrow”…that’s Shakespeare for those of you who aren’t quite up to snuff on your literature). What seems obvious to a well-bred Texan can become confusing (or should I say, confusin’) to a foreigner. A few years ago, I was at the home of some friends here in New Mexico and they asked me to play some songs for them and their guests. One of the songs I performed was one that I co-wrote with my good buddy, Allan Chapman, a true Texas gentleman. It’s a cowboy love song (that means it ends badly) entitled, “Smoke of the Brandin’ Fire.” When I’d finished performing it, the lady of the house, who happened to be from Indiana originally, said, “That’s a beautiful song but I have a question. What is a Brandon fire?” I patiently explained the grammatical rules to her and tried to be as non-judgmental as I could be. Not everyone can be from Texas.
We have any number of phrases that are apparently differ from what you might hear in the more backwards states. For example, if you are getting ready to go to the store and someone calls, you would tell them you were “fixin’ to go to the store.” If a friend was out on the lake bass fishing and a big wind came along to capsize his boat (narrowly missing the trailer park on the shore!), you would say his boat tumped over. And of course, when you hear the words, “Bless her heart,” you know the person is about to say something really harsh, though usually well-deserved, about someone…i.e. “Bless her heart, she’s real sweet and all, but she could eat oats through a picket fence” (this means she has a serious overbite!).
I’ve been so busy with other things today that I didn’t get around to workin’ on this piece until much later than I had intended. It’s early evenin’ as I write these last few words. My wife just came in and asked, “Jeet?” I said, “Nope.” She said, “Yanta?” I said, “Yep.” Excuse me, dinner is served.