Texas accents

The young lady who took my order at lunch today had a strong Texas accent. You might think this would be nothing unusual—I live in Texas—but it surprised me.

Don’t Texans have Texas accents? Strictly speaking, yes, people in Texas speak like people in Texas. However, most people in Texas do not have the stereotypical Texas accent.

By the way, I don’t own a cowboy hat, a pair of boots, or an oil well. Some Texans do, but most don’t.

Update (2017): I now own a pair of cowboy boots.

Related post: Flannery O’Connor’s accent

9 thoughts on “Texas accents

  1. A friend of mine moved from Minnesota to Texas as a boy, and his first day of school down here was on “Go Texan Day.” His family thought that all Texans dress that way year round.

  2. I think living in Houston makes a big difference too. The “stereotypical Texas” accent is far more prevalent in rural areas.

  3. I lived in Tennessee over the past 2.5 years and noticed a similar thing. Sure there is a southern accent around, but nothing like the stereotype. Only my 78-year old neighbor who grew up in the country outside of town and anything near. Now when I hear country-western singers with their super-twang, it makes me laugh. *Nobody* talks like that any more.

  4. I read that Julia Roberts — a Georgia native — had to have voice coaching to aquire a Southern accent for her role in Steel Magnolias. Evidently, the people making that movie thought everyone in the South spoke like Foghorn Leghorn or something.

    My grandmother grew up in North Dakota and could not stand the accents in the movie Fargo.

    I personally think the funniest communication breakdowns are in restaurants and grocery stores. Maybe because the exchange is rote, between strangers, and of limited duration. In 1983 in Minnesota, a cashier asked me if I wanted a baig. I knew for a fact that she was speaking English but I had no idea what she was asking. It took several tries before I realized she wanted to know if I wanted a sack for my groceries. A Yankee friend drove to Texas as a young lady one winter (circa 1979) and tried to order cocoa at a truck stop. After several repetitions the waitress finally served her Coca-Cola. She should have ordered hot chocolate, of course.

    Sadly, I think these amusing culture clashes are on the way out, at least in the US. No longer will the Texan in New York try the mysterious “knish” offered by the street vendor only to discover it is a giant tater tot. Nor will the vendor’s eyes pop out when asked for ketchup to go with it. Partly the homogenization of culture and accent is due to migration, but I think the main culprit is mass media.

  5. I still see it and notice it especially when I come back to Texas from NM. I do not think I have a particularly strong accent but many have said it is not hard to tell I am from Texas by it.

    Outside of my older family, I notice the stronger accent in the rural areas most. Less so in DFW and Houston areas.

    I love the way we talk in Texas though. It saddens me that the accent is softening and being less prevalent than it used to be.

  6. Dr. Bubba,

    I’m with you on the accent, but at least we still know what to do with a brisket. What I miss the most when outside of Texas is the food.

    NM has great food, too, but those flat enchiladas still take me aback. At least the cooks have the good sense to use plenty of chili. If I had to live outside of Texas, NM would be a fine choice.

  7. I grew up in Kansas and when I lived in Minnesota, people frequently asked me if I was from the South. Now I live in California and sometimes have difficulty understanding clerks when I visit Kansas (40 years away from KS).

    I talk on the phone and voice conference with people from all over and still hear the accents from all over the country. I like all the accents.

  8. I’ve lived in Texas all my life and I don’t have a Southern accent. My mom was originally from South Bend, Indiana and my Dad was from Memphis, Tennessee. I’ve heard that you get your accent from my parents, not sure if that is true or not? My sister has a slight Texas accent and I’ve had some people say I sound like I’m from Australia, or England. Not sure what to think of that as well?? I’ve never worn a cowboy hat and wouldn’t be caught dead wearing one, on the flip side of the coin I have a friend who wears one and I’m fine with that. It’s extremely rare you will ever see a person in Texas wearing one.

  9. I have a strong west Texas accent and I hate it!!! I have been teased and ridiculed my whole life because of it. I don’t talk to very many people. If you don’t have the accent count your blessings! Being accentless is the in thing now

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