February 11, 2020

World mystified by Texas accent

A couple of years ago, I received a very prestigious award outside of Texas and was asked to give a short speech on my work. Afterwards, as I was receiving well wishes from friends and colleagues, a man approached with a “rueful, hate to do this” expression and said, “I don’t know if you realize that you repeatedly slipped into a really strong southern accent when you were speaking. I thought you might not be aware of this.” What a helpful guy. I was so overcome by his generosity I couldn’t think of anything to say. Last year when speaking at Brown University I was again asked by a man if I was aware that as I spoke I was reverting to a Texas accent. This time I was ready. I said, “Yes. That is the way I speak except for when I clean it up so the likes of you can understand me.” He sent me a copy of a NYT article discussing whether or not we should teach our children not to “sound southern” so that people (what people?) won’t think they’re ignorant.

How your mouth forms vowels, how you hold or abandon consonants has nothing to do with how you form ideas or how your mind collects information.

I promise not to think you are an insufferable, elitist ass, based on your accent, if you promise not to conclude I’m an air headed dingaling based on mine.

My accent is almost all Texas with a bit of Cajun thrown in. I still hear my father in a few things I say – and all he had to do is say “hello podna” and you knew exactly where he came from.

I will add this one caveat —- I cannot tell a funny story except on my “normal setting” Sorry. Timing is everything and we TexCajuns, can slip and slide into pee-on-yourself funny only on default setting. If we’re going to enunciate, it’s for money.

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