Tuesday, August 02, 2005

If It Wadn't For Texas

Recently I have noticed an interesting feature of the local Texas accent - "wadn't" for "wasn't", "hadn't" for "hasn't", "idn't" for "isn’t", etc.  I work in a well-educated field (engineering), and those pronunciations are quite prominent here.  This is solely a pronunciation (accent) thing rather than a grammar (dialect) thing.  I should mention that we live near Houston. 

George Strait's song "Texas" has been getting a lot of air-time on the radio recently.  Every time the word "wasn't" occurs in the song, George pronounces it "wadn't".  He pronounces the 'd' sound so forcefully that I thought it would cause a small stir on the internet (humor columns, blogs, music reviews, etc.), but I haven't been able to find anything on it.  The only thing I can think of is that it's such a common feature of the accent that no one thinks it's anything special to write about.  This has led me to some very interesting research on accents and dialects. 

I'd love to get my own speech analyzed and see what exactly my accent includes.  Before March 2004, I lived in Utah my entire life.  My dad lived in Utah his entire life, and my mom grew up in San Diego, Virginia, and New Orleans, but both her parents were native Utahns.  So I am sure that my accent is entirely Utahn, but being from Utah, I'm not exactly sure what that means (it's difficult to identify your own accent).  I know that I drop t's, such as "moun-ain" instead of "mountain".  I leave out some of the L sounds.  It's actually hard for me to make my tongue to form a proper L (at the end of a word), so that must be part of the accent.  (I can say L's at the beginning of a word just fine, although I bet I slur/drop those a bit too.)  I read that people with western accents pronounce "caught" and "cot" the same.  No matter how hard I try, I cannot pronounce those differently from each other!  I don't even know how you would pronounce them differently.  So I guess my accent includes that too. 

I've thought about allowing myself to pick up the Texas accent, but I'm not sure yet.  My family would mock me.  I guess it may happen despite my best efforts.  I did catch myself saying "y'all", but only once (so far).  I learned that people often change their accents and dialect based on who they are talking to.  The time I said "y'all" I was talking to some landfill employees.  I realize now that I subconsciously altered my dialect based on my apparent prejudices about the people I was talking to.  Fascinating!  I read in one place that the military even has its own accent, similar to the Texas accent.  My sister is in the Air Force and is dating a guy from Texas, so maybe she will pick up the military Texas accent, and I will pick up a Texas accent and our poor parents won't even know us.

1 comment:

Truly Scrumptious said...

Hi Katie,

This is SO funny. Here we are this big country called the United States and some of us speak so differently from each other. I'll share some of my accents with you. I grew up in Maryland. My mother's relatives are from Virginia, my father's relatives are from Arizona.

I never hear the end of the jibes, even from my own children, when I say "warsh" for "wash". I hear "warsh" from plenty of other people who know how to say it "right"! Then my husband has to point out when according to him, I say, "sawl" for "saw" and "awlsome" for "awesome".

Then, too, I use very outdated words these days, like "ditto" for "copies" and tin foil.

Oh dear ;)