How to Talk Texan

1. “Y’all” vs. “All y’all”

The first thing you need to learn if you’re “fixin’ tuh” speak Texan, is the proper use of the plural pronoun “Y’all”. “Y’all” is a contraction of “You all”. Y’all refers to a group of two or more people, but if you’re referring to two or more groups of people, you have to specify that. That’s where the phrase “all y’all” comes in. “All y’all” can also simply refer to a large group of people; it’s a fluid phrase that the whole state uses but has become more common with all Americans.

“Hey Bill, are you gonna go to the rodeo this week?”

“Hey Bill and Bubba, are y’all gonna go to the rodeo this week?”

“Hey Bill, Bubba, and Denise, are all y’all gonna go to the rodeo this week?”

2. “Howdy” – the official Texas greeting

“Howdy” is so much more than a comical phrase uttered by Woody the cowboy from Toy Story. Howdy is actually used as a common greeting used by true Texans. It’s a mashup of “How do ye?”, or, if you want to be all uptight about it, it’s a way to say, “How do you do?”. Don’t assume it’s a question though, it’s a statement. It’s simply a friendly way to address both friends and strangers alike.

3. “Bless your heart” is not a benediction.

This may sound like a prayer, but actually, it’s a term of ridicule usually followed by laughter. “Bless his heart” (or “bless her heart”, as the case may be) is usually uttered when someone did something stupid and got hurt (like having a hissy fit), or did something unwise and reaped a logical consequence.

4. There is really only one season here.

If you hear a Texan refer to “the season”, they’re not talking about winter, spring, summer or fall. They’re talking about football. If they are referring to a season of the year, they’ll specify winter, spring, summer or fall.

5. Just go ahead and drop that G.

Texan elocution is not the same as it is elsewhere. We like to speak with a soft language that is easy on the ears. For that reason, we don’t bother with the last letter in present participle verbs. Kids in Texas don’t get “spankings”, they get “spankin’s” (or if they’ve been really bad, “whoopin’s”). Men don’t use “chewing” tobacco in Texas, they use “chewin'” tobacco (also known as “dip”).

“We’re goin’ fishin’ and are fixin’ to drive to the bait shop. Are you wantin’ to come along?”

“No sir officer, I sure wasn’t speedin’. You must be seein’ things.”

6. Fixing doesn’t mean repairing, it means preparing.

In Texas, when we’re getting ready to do something, whether it’s matrimony or a trip to the grocery store, if you’re just about to do it, you’re “fixin’ to”. (Don’t forget the rule about leaving off the ending “g”). “Lauren can’t come to New Orleans this summer, she’s fixin’ to have a baby.”

7. Corn-fed refers to size, not food.

Everything is bigger in Texas, including Texans themselves. A really tall, broad-shouldered man is referred to as being “corn-fed”.  To use this phrase in a sentence, you’d probably say something like, “Blake Shelton is 6’5″?! That’s one corn-fed country boy… even if he is from Oklahoma.”

8. Things don’t fall over in Texas, they tump over.

Another fun Texas phrase is “tump”. “Tump” is a verb which refers to something being overturned. Tump is generally used to describe inanimate objects that carry things. For example, “That damn fool Bobby lit outta here pushin’ Tommy along in that wheelbarrow, it hit a rock and tumped over. Now Tommy’s got a broken arm and can’t finish the season.”

9. Ain’t

Ain’t is amazing for several reasons. For one, it just sounds better than “am not” or “have not”. It’s also super versatile. It’s the perfect word to tell someone that they “ain’t gonna tell you how to go about your business”. It’s also great to describe that moron coworker who just “ain’t all there in the head”. All in all, there just ain’t many words that get the attention or give emphasis like this one.

Take it from me. You ain’t Texan if you ain’t usin’ ain’t in your daily conversations with folks.

Other terms:

Coke n. A generic term for a soft drink. If you ask for a “coke” at a restaurant, you will be asked, “What kind?”

Corn-or-flour n. An inquiry into one’s tortilla preference, often spoken at a restaurant and always said as a single word.

Dr Pepper n. The (un)official soft drink of Texas, often referred to as the “nectar of the gods.” The abbreviation “Dr” should never end with a period.

Hi sign n. A one-finger salute (the index finger is crucial here) made when drivers pass each other on country roads. This gesture, which is generally made without lifting the hand from the wheel, typically appears at least thirty miles outside a major urban area.

Hitch in my giddyup An expression that conveys a delay or a small problem with a person’s situation.

Might could v. A better way of saying “might be able,” as in “We might could go to the football game.”

Pecan n. puh-kahn

Pie n. Pah

Pecan Pie n. Puh-kahn Pah

Whataburger Fourth food group behind BBQ, Tex-Mex and chicken-fried steak. Best burgers in the world. Yes, world.

Thanks to Wide Open Country (wideopencountry.com) and Texas Monthly (texasmonthly.com)