When I was a senior in high school, I went with several classmates on a class trip to Washington D.C. through a program called Close Up. We went in January, and I remember how excited we were to see snow! One memory sticks out more than the rest, however. We were at a restaurant, and the waitress and some other workers asked us where we were from. They could tell that we were from somewhere in the south because of the way that we talked. When we told them we were from Texas, they started asking us all kinds of questions. I remember two questions very well. They asked us if we really rode horses to school, and they also asked us if we had oil wells in our backyards. Being the proud Texans that we were, we answered both questions with the same response – “Of course we do!” Now, you know that we just flat out lied, but it was funny to hear what they thought about life in Texas.
I am a first generation Texan on my dad’s side (he’s from Louisiana) and a ‘who knows how many generations Texan’ on my mom’s side. My cousin Sandy did the family genealogy research, so I need to check with her. I’m extremely proud to be a Texan, and when I’m visiting faraway places like Indiana or New Hampshire, I make sure to lay the accent on real heavy so they’ll know that I’m not from around those parts.
I used to teach with someone in Fort Bend ISD whose husband was a banker or had some kind of highfalutin job like that. He was told by his superiors that in order to climb the ladder he needed to work on getting rid of his Texas accent and definitely stop using the word y’all. I couldn’t believe it! What really upset me was that he asked his wife, my coworker and friend, to do the same thing.
I don’t know if this is strictly a Texas thing, but I use certain words today that I grew up using and didn’t think twice about using. Someone just the other day asked me what she should do with some leftovers. I told her to go ahead and put them in the icebox. She had no idea what I was talking about, so I had to say, “You know, the refrigerator.” I also use the word tump as in, “Y’all make sure that table is steady because we don’t want the glass of water to tump over.” I just had to look up tump in some online dictionaries. Most just say that the word is a noun and means a small rounded hill or a clump of trees, shrubs, or grass. Who knew? Kudos to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary for being one of the few to list tump as a verb and attribute it to the South.
I recently saw something on Facebook that made me laugh out loud. It was one of those memes, and it’s something that I say all the time. How many times have you used the triple contraction y’all’d’ve? I said it many times when I was teaching. Let’s say the class did poorly as a whole on a quiz. My response to that would have been, “Y’all’d’ve done better if y’all’d’ve studied a little bit more!” Before you ask, I spoke that word in classrooms all over FBISD, and those kids knew exactly what I meant and it didn’t hinder their use of proper English grammar. I usually made it a point to speak like a true Texan as often as I could in the classroom. When a new student from Chicago leaned over and whispered (we all heard her because at seven years old she hadn’t yet developed her ability to whisper) in her classmate’s ear, “Why does she keep calling us y’all?,” I knew I was on the right track.
Finally, I just couldn’t get through my day without saying fixin’ to. Yes, I could just say ‘getting ready to,’ but it just doesn’t hold the same meaning for me. To me, fixin’ to means that I’m about to do something within the next few minutes. If I’m getting ready to do something, it might not happen for an hour or so. So, here it is – I’m fixin’ to save this blog and send it off to the webmaster. Talk to y’all later!