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Author Topic: USA(aka Texas)/Canada  (Read 36494 times)
M2
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« on: December 08, 2003, 08:27:22 pm »

Taxas english - a dialect ( you'all to read )

Scholars of Twang Track All the 'Y'Alls' in Texas
By RALPH BLUMENTHAL

Published: November 28, 2003

COLLEGE STATION, Tex.  "Are yew jus' tryin' to git me to talk, is that the ah-deah?"

That was the idea. John O. Greer, an architecture teacher at Texas A&M University, sat at his dining table between two interrogators and their tape recorder. They had precisely 258 questions for him. But it waddn what he said that interested them most. It was how he said it. Advertisement

Those responses, part of an ambitious National Geographic Society survey of Texas speech, with its "y'alls," "might-coulds" and "fixin' to's," are helping language investigators throw a scientific light on a mythologized and sometimes ridiculed mainstay of Americana: the Texas twang.

Among the unexpected findings, said Guy Bailey, a linguistics professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio and a leading scholar in the studies with his wife, Jan Tillery, is that in Texas more than elsewhere, how you talk says a lot about how you feel about your home state.

"Those who think Texas is a good place to live adopt the flat `I'  it's like the badge of Texas," said Dr. Bailey, 53, provost and executive vice president of the university and a transplanted Alabamian married to a Lubbock native, also 53.

So if you love Texas, they say, be fixin' to say "naht" for "night," "rahd" for "ride" and "raht" for right."

And by all means say "all" for "oil."

In addition to quickly becoming enamored of Western garb like cowboy boots and hats, big-buckled belts, western shirts and vests, newcomers to the state  and there are a lot of them are especially likely to adopt the lingo pronto.

At the same time, the speech of rural and urban Texans is diverging, Dr. Bailey said. Texans in Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth and San Antonio are sounding more like other Americans and less like their fellow Texans in Iraan, Red Lick or Old Glory.

Indeed, Dr. Tillery and Dr. Bailey wrote in a recent paper called "Texas English," a new dialect of Southern American English may be emerging on the West Texas plains. It is not what a linguist might expect, they wrote, "but this is Texas, and things are just different here."

The changes are being tracked by researchers for the two San Antonio linguists, who are working with scholars from Oklahoma State University and West Texas A&M in Canyon, outside Amarillo, under the sponsorship of the National Geographic Society. They divided Texas into 116 squares and are interviewing four native Texans spanning four age groups from the 20's to the 80's, in each.

As part of the latest effort, two master's students in linguistics from the University of North Texas at Denton, Amanda Aguilar, 24, and Brooke Earheardt, 23, arranged recently to record Mr. Greer, 70, as he responded to an exhaustive 31-page questionnaire.

Ms. Aguilar first probed some of Mr. Greer's attitudes toward Texas. Was it a barren state?

"It's in the ahs of the beholder," responded Mr. Greer, who was born in Port Arthur. The state, he said, was "dee-vahded, you kin almost draw a lahn."

Was it a progressive state?

"Compared to who?" he said. "Califohnia? Baghdad? Ah'd have to say Texas is a progressive state."

Distinctive?

"Most are distinctive in their own way," he said, smiling, "with the possible exception of Ah-wah." (That was Iowa.)

Next Ms. Aguilar quizzed Mr. Greer on a lexicon of Texas words and phrases. Had he ever heard the expression "y'all?"

Of course. "Ah think `you' sometimes just duddn't work bah itself."

Could you use it for just one person?

"Ah would trah to confahn it to the plural," he said. "It's just like `youse guys.' "

Had he heard "fixin' to?"

Of course again. " `Ahma' often goes with it," he said. "Ahma fixin' to go."

The questions and Mr. Greer's answers kept coming. A dragonfly? That's a "miskeeta hahk." A wishbone was a "pulleybone." A cowboy's rope was a lasso or a lariat, or just a "ropin' rope." A drought was worse than a "drah spell"; no rain, or "it haddn for a long tahm." You wait "for" a friend who haddn shown up, but you wait "on" someone who is nearby and delayed, perhaps upstairs putting on makeup.

Afterward, Ms. Aguilar and Ms. Earheardt said that Mr. Greer, though white, employed some noticeable African-American and Deep South speech patterns. There were also Spanish influences, common in Texas, where Spanish was widely spoken for nearly a hundred years before English.

Dr. Tillery and Dr. Bailey warned that it was possible to exaggerate the distinctiveness of Texas English because the state loomed so large in the popular imagination. Few speech elements here do not also appear elsewhere. Advertisement

"Nevertheless," they wrote in their paper on Texas English, "in its mix of elements both from various dialects of English and from other languages, TXE is in fact somewhat different from other closely related varieties."

Perhaps the most striking finding, Dr. Tillery said, was the spread of the humble "y'all," ubiquitous in Texas as throughout the South. Y'all, once "you all" but now commonly reduced to a single word, sometimes even spelled "yall," is taking the country by storm, the couple reported in an article written with Tom Wikle of Oklahoma State University and published in 2000 in the Journal of English Linguistics. No one other word, it turns out, can do the job.

"Y'all" and "fixin' to" were also spreading fast among newcomers within the state, they said, particularly those who regard Texas fondly. Use of the flat `I,' they found, also correlated strikingly to a favorable view of Texas.

But they found some curious anomalies, as well.

One traditional feature of Texas and Southern speech  pronouncing the word "pen" like "pin," known as the pen/pin merger  is disappearing in the big Texas cities, while remaining common in rural areas, Dr. Tillery said. Texans in the prairie may shell out "tin cints," but not their metropolitan brethren.

Urban Texas is abandoning the "y" sound after "n," "d" and "t," exchanging dipthongs for monophthongs. So folks in the cities read a "noospaper" what their rural counterparts call a "nyewspaper." They'll hum a "tyewn" on the range, a "toon" in Houston. The upgliding dipthong, too, is an endangered species in the cities, where a country "dawg" is just a dog.

Why city Texans, more than country folk, should disdain to write with a "pin" is not clear, although it seems that some pronunciations carry a stigma of unsophistication while others do not.

It was such mixed patterns that suggested the emergence of a new dialect on the West Texas plains, Dr. Tillery said.

Other idiosyncrasies have all but vanished over time. Texans for the most part no longer pray to the "Lard," replacing the "o" with an "a," or "warsh" their clothes. How the interloping "r" crept in remains an especially intriguing question, Dr. Bailey said. Trying to trace the peculiarity, he asked Texans to name the capital of the United States, often drawing the unhelpful answer "Austin."

The opposite syndrome, known as r-lessness, which renders "four" as "foah" in Texas and elsewhere, is easier to trace, Dr. Bailey said. In the early days of the republic, plantation owners sent their children to England for schooling. "They came back without the `r,' " he said.

"The parents were saying, listen to this, this is something we have to have, so we'll all become r-less," he said. The craze went down the East Coast from Boston to Virginia (skipping Philadelphia, for some reason) and migrating selectively around the country.

Other common Texas locutions that replace an "s" with a "d"  "bidness" for "business," "waddn" for "wasn't"  are simply matters of mechanical efficiency, Dr. Bailey said. "With `n' and `d' the tongue stays in the same position," he said. "It's ease of articulation."

So even "fixin' to" becomes "fidden to" or "fith'n to." And fixin' to where did that come from, anyway?

"Who knows?" Dr. Bailey said.
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M2
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« Reply #1 on: December 08, 2003, 08:42:45 pm »

Marcia,

Actually, Canada is one of the northern counties of Texas.  It is just so far from anywhere that the inhabitants haven't heard the news yet.
Funny. Smiley
A few years ago a brother from the real state of Texas visited the assembly occasionally. Whenever he read a passage of Scripture I had the distinct feeling that he was reading a Tamil or a Hebrew translation or some other language that I did not understand.
Quote
You see, Marcia, all the "smart" people down this way admire Europe and want to turn Texas into a pseudo-European country.  They are always saying things like..."we are the only country in the Industrialized world that doesn't...or does...."
Maybe what they intend to say is, "We are the only country in the Industrialized world."
Did you know that the US gallon is smaller than the British gallon? No wonder all those poor gas station attendants were confused. BTW now-a-days the low price for gas is 57.9 cents(CDN) a liter; it usually runs around 70 cents/liter.

Marcia,
     What you have to understand is that, while Tom was born in the USA, he now lives in California, which is, for all practical (and several impractical) purposes a separate country altogether.  In fact, owing to its present financial deficit, California is considering declaring war on the United States just so it can then capitulate and qualify to receive U.S. foreign aid.  If you have any compassion for Californians at all, you will attend more movies! Wink
al
Ah yes! Good ole Arnold has decided to give grants to those who film in California rather than Vancouver or Toronto Canada where it is cheaper. The Californians should be out of the red soon enough.

Marcia, it does snow in Omaha, St. Louis, and DC. But we can't understand why six inches of snow in a day will shut down the whole town. In Sunny California we can get feet of snow in a day. You haven't lived until you've been on Donnor pass in a dump. (if you need me to translate inches and feet in to the metric system for you let me know)
I always wondered that too. But then Toronto faces the same dilemna, and they are Canadians.
Jem, do you live in the mountains then? Do you have to use chains on your tires in the winter?
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outdeep
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« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2003, 10:19:28 pm »

I live in the Appalachian mountains which, coming from California where they have real mountains, appear more like pimples.  We are up round 3,500 feet.

I figured out shortly after I moved here, that if I don't buy a house built atop of one of these pimples, that I can get around just fine with a front wheel drive car with studded snow tires.  I even drove home on the unmaintained (in winter) Blue Ridge Parkway.

The one down side of this county is that they have a policy of poor road conditions anywhere in the county, then all the county schools are closed.  So, we get LOTS of snow days (one days when it seems fine) and summer break is very short.

As for Canada:  I enjoyed the three times I traveled to Canada.  I admit being surprised when asked if I want gravy on my french fries, but it does make sense when you think about it.

Canadians are nice people.  This is illustrated by one of their odd rules in Canada league football.  If a team makes the field goal, they get three points.  If they miss, they still get a point - "That was a nice try.  Hey, let me give you a point."

Note on metric system:  I'm used to the English system.  It was a good first try based upon simply cutting things in half.  But, someone figured out that we have ten fingers and started utilizing the decimal system.  The latter is easier in making conversions, representation on computers (decimals are easier to work with than fractions in the digital world), and the naming convention is more intuitive.  Making freezing 0C instead of 32F was probably not a bad idea either.
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Joe Sperling
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« Reply #3 on: December 09, 2003, 06:54:19 am »

Dave---

It must be great to be a kicker in the Canadian
football league with the score tied, and 5 seconds
left in the game. They send you out to kick a field goal and you get  carried off the field on everyone's shoulders whether you make it or miss it. Do they also have "do overs" if you screw up a play?

--Joe
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« Reply #4 on: December 09, 2003, 12:37:59 pm »

...
Note on metric system:  I'm used to the English system.  It was a good first try based upon simply cutting things in half.  But, someone figured out that we have ten fingers and started utilizing the decimal system.  The latter is easier in making conversions, representation on computers (decimals are easier to work with than fractions in the digital world), and the naming convention is more intuitive.  Making freezing 0C instead of 32F was probably not a bad idea either.

The English System rocks, who needs that metric garbage.  For one thing, the units relate closely to us humans, and being that God was the one who designed us, I would much rather use units based on God's design than the ungodly metric system.

For example 1 degree Fahrenheit is approximately the smallest temperature differential that a human can detect if one was to put a finger in two different temperatures of liquid.  It's a real human degree based on God's creation, not man's invention.  And why chose the freezing point of water to be what 0 degrees is based or the boiling point of water to be what 100 degrees is based on.  By doing so people assume that something is magic about 100 degrees and something is magic about water, just like a lot of people think the number 10 is special because we chose base 10 to represent numbers by.

And what is this meter and centimeter garbage all about?  The centimeter is too small for me, and the meter is too large!  I can measure inches by the width of my thumbs, and feet by the length of my feet (okay my feet are only 11 1/2 inches, but with my shoes it is 12).  And what can I easily divide a centimeter by in the wonderful base 10 system, 2 and 5 (okay, 1 and 10 also).  But with the foot, I can easily divide it by 2, 3, 4, or even 6 if I so chose.  And how convenient is it that my average highway driving speed is 60 MPH, and there are 60 minutes in an hour.  It makes it so easy to estimate trip times.  Let's just hope that those metric worshipers don't try to pervert time to base 10, I like 1/3 of a day for work, 1/3 of a day for sleep, and 1/3 of a day for reading www.assemblyboard.com. Smiley  And why do some people use grads to measure angles?  If they want to be real base 10ers shouldn't there be 100 degrees in a circle not in 90 degrees?  Why use a hybrid of quarters and base 10 unless the wonderful base 10 system is defective?  I am just thankful that most of us still use degrees, minutes, and seconds.

And I really hate this liter garbage.  A cup is the volume of the glass I use to drink from.  Perhaps, I should use a quarter liter, no that doesn't sound base 10ish enough.  And would you rather have someone pour you a pint (preferably an imperial pint), or pour you a 500ml?  I like buying a gallon of milk, it is just the right size, why would I want to buy 3.785 or 4 liters.  And why do we have 2 liter bottles of soda, has the movement to the ungodly metric system already begun even here?  But I still haven't figured how to fit 10 gallons in my 10 gallon hat.

And why do metric-ers prefer "fuel economy" over "mileage".  I want to know how many gallons of fuel it takes me to go a given number of miles, and if I was interested in economy should't I factor in the price of the gas.  And what is this useless liters/100km garbage, why do I need to worry about a factor of 100. And shouldn't the number that represents fuel economy increase as fuel economy increases?  It comes as no surprise that these metric guys have things backwards.  Say no to metric, just give me plain old MPG any day!

And you say that decimal is easier for representations on computers.  Well if modern American computers use base 2, then wouldn't the good old English system work just fine, after all my vernier calipers quickly measures inches in units of 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16, 1/32, 1/64, and 1/128, all denominators being powers of 2!  And powers of 2 are easily decipherable from binary representation on computers.  And what does my metric centimeter vernier scale read, only in units if 1/10, and 1/100 (ugh).  Much less straightforward to represent in binary then powers of 2.

The next thing you know people will want to put 10 bases on a baseball diamond, or will it be a baseball decagon. Maybe 10 strikes and I am out? When will this madness stop?!?

The only positive thing that I have to say about the metric system is that it is easier to walk a kilometer in someone else's shoes than it is to walk a mile in them, and I would hate to have to walk a mile in the "metric life" shoe. Grin
« Last Edit: December 09, 2003, 09:54:29 pm by Retread Again » Logged
d3z
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« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2003, 12:39:40 pm »

I live in the Appalachian mountains which, coming from California where they have real mountains, appear more like pimples.
The Rockies are real mountains.
Quote
The latter is easier in making conversions, representation on computers (decimals are easier to work with than fractions in the digital world).
Computers really aren't all that adept at base 10.  It works nicely for a unit system because that is how we represent our numbers.  The computer does most stuff (these days) in base 2, which divides by 2 very easily (like dividing by 10 in decimal).

Just think if we had 3 fingers on each hand, like in the cartoons.  Everything might be in base 6, then.
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« Reply #6 on: December 09, 2003, 01:13:55 pm »

Canadians are nice people.  This is illustrated by one of their odd rules in Canada league football.  If a team makes the field goal, they get three points.  If they miss, they still get a point - "That was a nice try.  Hey, let me give you a point."

Dave---

It must be great to be a kicker in the Canadian football league with the score tied, and 5 seconds left in the game. They send you out to kick a field goal and you get  carried off the field on everyone's shoulders whether you make it or miss it. Do they also have "do overs" if you screw up a play?

--Joe

They get the 3 points if they make the field goal. However, if they miss they only get the 1 point if they tackle the other team player in the end zone. If they do not succeed in tackling the player in the end zone then no one gets the point.

Marcia

So are kickoffs still from the 35 yard line, or now from the 32.004 meter line? Smiley

Down with metric!
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outdeep
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« Reply #7 on: December 09, 2003, 07:09:41 pm »

Note to David:  Yes, I know about hex, octal and binary - I started my career as a machine language programmer.  I was just saying it is easier to store 1.783 in a computer that 2 11/16.

Canada Football:  For some reason, if I recall, they do use yards.  I wasn't sure why.  I think the league is at least 50 years old.  Was Canada using the English system back then?

Only 3 downs, not 4.  The defense also lines up farther back so if you need, say, a yard, it's pretty much a given that you'll get it.

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outdeep
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« Reply #8 on: December 09, 2003, 07:14:22 pm »

One more question on the field goal rule.  It was explained to me that they would get the point not if they tackle the guy, but if the opposing team fails to get the ball out of the end zone for any reason.  So if the kicker misses the field goal, but kicks it beyond the end zone, doesn't this also merit a point?
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M2
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« Reply #9 on: December 09, 2003, 07:44:31 pm »

THE RULES for CFL Canuck Football League
http://www.cfl.ca/CFLRulebook/home.html

Scoring: http://www.cfl.ca/CFLRulebook/rule_3.html
Article 2: Field Goal
A field goal is scored by a drop kick or place kick (except on a kick-off) when the ball, after being kicked and without again touching the ground goes over the cross bar and between the goal posts (or goal posts produced) of the opponent's goal.
The ball shall be dead immediately when it crosses the cross bar.
After a field goal the team scored against may kick-off or scrimmage the ball as first down at its own 35 yard line or require the scoring team to kick-off from its 35 yard line.
AR Team A attempts a field goal. After the ball is kicked and before crossing the line of scrimmage it touches or is touched by a player of either team and then proceeds through the uprights and over the crossbar in flight. Ruling - Field Goal.
AR Team A attempts a field goal. After the ball has crossed the line of scrimmage it touches or is touched by a Team B player before it proceeds through the uprights and above the crossbar in flight. Ruling - Field Goal.

Retread et al

The population of the USA(aka Texas) is 10 times that of Canada. I think that California (or is it the greater LA area Huh) has a population the size of Canada's. The logistics of converting to metric is phenominal in a country as large as the US of A, and where Californians do not like to be told what to do (like wear helmets when they ride their motorcycles). So... we are just ahead of your time in that area. Wink

Do you have 'palm' Christmas trees in the southern states?

Dave S - machine language programming... Wow! I remember that. Did you have to use punched cards as well, and "drum line printers"? And a 'slide rule' to figure out logs?

Lord bless,
Marcia
« Last Edit: December 09, 2003, 08:01:38 pm by Marcia » Logged
retread
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« Reply #10 on: December 09, 2003, 09:51:10 pm »

...
The population of the USA(aka Texas) is 10 times that of Canada. I think that California (or is it the greater LA area Huh) has a population the size of Canada's. The logistics of converting to metric is phenominal in a country as large as the US of A, and where Californians do not like to be told what to do (like wear helmets when they ride their motorcycles). So... we are just ahead of your time in that area. Wink
...

But yet in the US we measure blood pressure in millimeters of mercury, have 2 liter soda bottles, and use litres for engine displacement rather than cubic inches. But I am still thankful that the US is not ahead of their time in the decay of measurement to the inferior metric system.  My condolences go out to you Canadians.

...
Do you have 'palm' Christmas trees in the southern states?
...

At least in California we have "Real" Christmas trees.  The only difference is that the temperature is not cold enough to kill off all the cute little spiders and insects that inhabit the tress when we bring them in our homes.  And how do you fit a Christmas tree in your igloo anway? Smiley

From the Simpsons episode "A Star is Burns":
Grampa Simpson: "The metric system is the tool of the devil!  My car gets forty rods to the hogshead and that's the way I likes it."
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« Reply #11 on: December 09, 2003, 10:07:54 pm »

...
Grampa Simpson: "The metric system is the tool of the devil!  My car gets forty rods to the hogshead and that's the way I likes it."

Just in case there are any Simpsons fans out there:

http://manyhands.ivotedforkodos.com/~bbaumer/php/simpsons/sounds/grandpa/40rods.wav
« Last Edit: December 09, 2003, 10:22:28 pm by Retread Again » Logged
outdeep
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« Reply #12 on: December 10, 2003, 12:09:07 am »

Answer to Marcia:
I was in high school/college during the calculator revolution, but before the PC revolution.  In high school I could use the new HP scientific calculator if I first mastered the slide rule.

Yes.  I did my share of punch cards as well as the more "advanced" line editors.  I remember seeing for the first time Digital's keypad editor and I thought it was the greatest thing I ever saw.

We would run our punch card through the machine and within a couple of hours, our program listing would spit out the window and I would discover the missing comma.

One time, one of the more "advanced" moble printers ran out of paper and we discovered that the industrial paper towel rolls from the bathroom worked just fine.

To others:
Speaking of Christmas trees, NC is a large producer.  Our neighboring county Ashe County provides the tree for the white house each year.  Buying a fake one is kind of like spitting on the flag around here.
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Mark Kisla
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« Reply #13 on: December 10, 2003, 12:37:33 am »


To others:
Speaking of Christmas trees, NC is a large producer.  Our neighboring county Ashe County provides the tree for the white house each year.  Buying a fake one is kind of like spitting on the flag around here.

TV trivia;
Hugh Beaumont, ( Ward Clever, from LEAVE IT TO BEAVER) moved north to become a Christmas tree farmer after the show was cancelled.
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vernecarty
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« Reply #14 on: December 10, 2003, 01:35:27 am »

Answer to Marcia:
I was in high school/college during the calculator revolution, but before the PC revolution.  In high school I could use the new HP scientific calculator if I first mastered the slide rule.

Yes.  I did my share of punch cards as well as the more "advanced" line editors.  I remember seeing for the first time Digital's keypad editor and I thought it was the greatest thing I ever saw.

We would run our punch card through the machine and within a couple of hours, our program listing would spit out the window and I would discover the missing comma.

One time, one of the more "advanced" moble printers ran out of paper and we discovered that the industrial paper towel rolls from the bathroom worked just fine.

To others:
Speaking of Christmas trees, NC is a large producer.  Our neighboring county Ashe County provides the tree for the white house each year.  Buying a fake one is kind of like spitting on the flag around here.
Hey Dave:
do you remember the Texas Instruments  SR-50??!! I was one of the first on campus to own one!!  Cool

Verne
« Last Edit: December 10, 2003, 08:21:31 pm by vernecarty » Logged
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