Lost in Translation

Last night I wrote about getting physically lost. Tonight I thought I’d add a note about being conversationally lost. Folks talk funny here. Working in the oil business, there are so many terms that are unfamiliar to me:”tool pusher”for example. Besides new terminology, there are tons of Texas colloquialisms, and then there’s that sweet, undecipherable southern drawl.

The internet is full of accent reduction courses and techniques. Google get rid of your accent and you’ll get 251,000 results in .06 seconds. Google get rid of your wrinkles and you’ll get 1,300,000 results in 13 seconds. Google get rid of your personality and you’ll get 4,810,000 hits in .05 seconds. I think you lose a little of a person when the accent and wrinkles dissolve. I don’t want the guys to change the way they talk. I just want to break the code.

Working as a gate guard, I’m beginning to see the hazards of not knowing Texan speak.  On a busy day, we may have 50 or 60 trucks checking in. When I first started, I would ask a guy to repeat himself (his-self) 2 or 3 times until I felt too self-conscious for holding up traffic and I’d wave him on in. I’d smile and nod in that special way you do when you have no idea what the person just said and then I’d take my best guess. I wonder if GGS will ever look at my logs and be surprised to see how often I waved in a “toe pusher ” or a “flower worker’?

I love accents. I think it’s a shame Hugh Laurie had to lose his British accent for House. He said on Letterman that the hardest word for him to pronounce (Americanized) is murder. Good thing he’s not on Criminal Minds where the word murder surely must be on every page of the script.

Accents are compelling. The most popular guy in my freshman class in college was David from Australia. He was about 5′ 7″ and very average looking, but  the girls on campus went crazy whenever he asked them to pass the salt in the dining commons. And then there’s the Geiko Gecko. Would anyone be interested in a little green lizard from Ohio?

I’m determined to do my part to help maintain the rich tradition of the language of Texas. I may even add syllables to my words. I don’t think there are any one syllable words in Texas. Cat is more like ka-yut and Heidi swears that floor has at least 3 syllables (see yesterday’s post).

I’m taking this on as a serious course of study. If you, too, would like to learn to speak like a Texan you can go to How to speak with a Texan Accent. Here’s just an example of a great tip from that site: “To talk with a Texan accent, your long “i” sounds need to sound closer to a short “a” sound. Texans don’t get in “fights.” They get in “fahts.” They don’t “buy” something at the store. They “bah” it. They don’t do something “nine times.” They do it “nahn tahms.”

I’m trying to learn to Texas speak. Here are some things I’ve picked up from listening to the guys:

1. Texans leave out the g in the suffix ‘ing’

2. “ah’mo” means “I am going to”

3. to get somewhere you go “over in through there”

4. “blinky” means sour/spoiled

5. a “frog strangler” is a whole lot of rain.

It’s a slow process but now I know what the guys  mean when they say:

“Ah’mo fixin’ to go over in through there bee foe the frog strangler to bah me some milk seein’ mine’s gone blinky.”