Not in the clamor of the crowded street, not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng, but in ourselves, are triumph and defeat.--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

REDIRECT ALERT! (Scroll down past this mess if you're trying to read an archived post. Thanks. No, really, thanks.)

Due to my inability to control my temper and complacently accept continued silliness with not-quite-as-reliable-as-it-ought-to-be Blogger/Blogspot, your beloved Possumblog will now waddle across the Information Dirt Road and park its prehensile tail at http://possumblog.mu.nu.

This site will remain in place as a backup in case Munuvia gets hit by a bus or something, but I don't think they have as much trouble with this as some places do. ::cough::blogspot::cough:: So click here and adjust your links. I apologize for the inconvenience, but it's one of those things.

Friday, January 07, 2005

A Texabama Story--Y'all listen up!

By Howard Witt
Tribune senior correspondent

Turns out it's all in the y'all.

If you ever find yourself in a group of Southerners and want to spot the Texan in the bunch, listen hard for the y'alls. Most of them will surely use the expression--a contraction of "you all"--to refer to a group of people ("Are y'all goin' to the store?"), but the Texan is more likely to employ it to refer to a single individual as well.

That's just one of the unusual discoveries made by two linguistics professors at the University of Texas-San Antonio who are studying Texas Twang, the distinctive dialect of English proudly spoken by natives of the Lone Star State--and sometimes ridiculed by the rest of the country.

The husband-wife team, Guy Bailey and Jan Tillery, are fixin' to complete the last of their research this summer. When they're done finished with their work, which is underwritten by the National Geographic Society, they might could write the definitive guide to what they lovingly call TXE, or Texas English.

"Texas is different--it's the only state that was its own country at one time and has its own creation story," said Bailey, a native of Alabama and provost and executive vice president of the university. "Out of that has come a sense of braggadocio and a strong desire to hold on to a unique way of speaking." [...]

"If the rest of the country says you can't use y'all except for more than one person, then of course we're going to take it and say, no, you can use it for one person," said Tillery, whose drawling speech bears the marked twang of her childhood home in Lubbock.

"For me it's a conscious effort, because I was treated as such a backwards pea-brain because of how I talked that I decided I would just be very upfront and even more pronounced," she said. "I'll tell you something--it's a good way to hide an intellect." [...]

Indeed so.

I've said it before, but it bears repeating--just because a man talks slow doesn't mean he thinks slow.

Anyway, a fun little article--from the accompanying glossary, some of the things that aren't exclusive to Texas and can be heard around here include: y'all (obviously), fixing to, might could, mosquito hawk, snap beans, pulleybone, polecat, cold drink, dinner on the ground, and potluck dinner.

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