Among native Texans, is there significant regional variation in accents–and how pervastive is the so-called Texas twang?
I realize answering this question is subjective, but I was watching a Food Channel female host recently and her twang is perhpas thickest I’ve ever heard. (Maybe she was playing to the cameras; I don’t know.) Her accent was quite distinct from the accents native to Tennessee, the Carolinas, Georgia or Louisiana.
I’m guessing that accents from Texans native to the larger cities (Dallas) are not as pronounced as those from rural areas, but I’ve heard native Houstonians and we’re talking t-h-i-c-k.
I also imagine it makes a big difference as to whether that “native Texan” was raised by parents who themselves had native Texan accents.
Texas is big. Regional accents are there, but it can be hard for a non-Texan to hear them well. But someone who is native to El Paso will sound different than someone from Lubbock, who will sound different from someone raised in San Antonio.
You are also correct about factoring in the “home accent.”
I have kin all over the state, and I can pick up the difference when talking to my “in-law” cousins. The girls all sound the same (Lubbock), but their husbands vary (Dallas, Corpus Christi, Little Rock!).
It is also not pervasive. Granted, we’re not Texas natives (moved here when I was 3.5, my brother was 1), but I don’t have an accent except for the occasional “y’all” or “fair-to-middlin’” which is a conscious decision. I am assured of this because I am constantly reminded about it on the interview trail (a guy at Johns Hopkins told me I spoke “The Queen’s English” on Monday). My wife is a native and also doesn’t have an accent. Sister-in-law is also a native and she has more of one. Seems to be fairly random in urban areas, and much more predominant in rural areas. The typical twang also seems to be much more pronounced from rural East Texas, at least in my experience. Or at least, in Houston, that’s who seems to have the strongest accents.
I’m a native of Northeast Texas, a fairly rural area. Most of the older natives of the area have pretty thick accents, but among younger people, it varies. Most people say I have very little of an accent. My cousin, on the other hand, has a strong accent, but it’s mainly because he’s more of a hick. I’m only a few miles from Louisiana too (about an hour from Shreveport), so I’d say if there’s an accent here, then it probably doesn’t stop abruptly at the state line.
My brother spent a year at college in San Marcos (near Austin). He said many of the people there were from West Texas, and they spoke like Californians. I wish I could have visited and seen for myself. But I’d say the stereotypical Texas accent is greater in the east, although not even all of us have it.
I don’t know, I’ve been all over Texas and the strongest accents I’ve heard were from here in the Panhandle. A guy who lives in Houston (who is from England, but is used to the Houston accents) said I sounded like an “unintelligible redneck” the first time we met in person.
I agree that a native can tell regional Texas accents. IMO, west Texas does have an accent. Try Alpine, for example.
The strongest accent is in East Texas in my opinion. Like the ‘Big Thicket’ area or LA border.
There are a lot of people moving in and that tends to dilute things. Houston accents are thick but not as thick as the nearby areas (La Porte, Alvin)… now those places really have a thick accent.
The line through Dallas/Austin, generally, dived the ‘southern’ accents (east) from the ‘glides’ (west), IMHO.
I’ll go along with that. My mother was from Del Rio, west of San Antonio, on the Rio Grande. The last time I was there was two years ago, and I could not distinguish any strong accents in those areas. What accents there were, I would call more ‘western’, than ‘southern’. Ethnicity is also a factor. My relatives are all Tex-Mex and bilingual. Their Spanish sounds different also from ‘standard’ (not that Spanish really has one, , but you get my drift), generally slower and more casual. I can usually make alot more of what they are saying, than off of Univision or similar.
Another Northeast Texas native here (Jefferson is about 35 miles from Longview) to say that it varies. My accent, when I let it out, is different from someone from out in West Texas or the hill country. I go to school with quite a few people from metro areas like DFW or Houston and they all sound more or less the same.
East Texas tends to be more Old South than Southwest, so I have a feeling our accents are more akin to places like Mississippi.
Don’t forget those of us that were born and raised in the wide Dallas and Houston suburbia - from my experience, 1 in 3 of these suburbanites have no discernable drawl or twang. I myself have often been mistaken for a Californian, odd midwesterner or a taxtbook english-leaning yankee.
I don’t know how to explain this other than I have always watched waaaay to much television. It is very likely that I ignored the slight twang of my parents/friends/teachers, in favor of the accents of my heros on the daily broadcasts…
I’m from Dallas County and I have a very thick and distinctive Texas twang; I don’t know exactly where I got it because my mother and father didn’t have it, nor does my sister. To my own ear, my accent seems more rural East Texas than anything—I can’t explain it. I left Texas in 1963 and it doesn’t seem that my accent has diminished in anyway, in spite of living in seven different states since then.
A) Being from McAllen, along the Tex-Mex border, and a Mexicano, yes, ethnicity plays a factor. Generally speaking, most of the Tejano community speaks English in a non-twang acccent with a hit of “Latino accent” (strong accents r’s, etc). Remember there are native Tejanos and recent immigrants so that also plays a factor.
B) The Spanish sounds different from the Spanish accent you find ibb Mexico because of the influence and of being raised in an English speaking state. You have softening of the Spanish accent (softer j’s, etc.) and introduction of Tex-Mex Spanish (“parkear”, “troca”, etc.).
C) Finally, most urban Texas get their language “hints” from media. So. Whatever accent is standard in media, that gets passed along to new Texan generations.
Granted most of the people there grew up speaking Spanish or where surrounded by Spanish speakers, but for those who grew up in a primarily English speaking family, I found the accent to be nonexistant. Obviously one can’t not have an accent, but there are many parts of this country where the speach patterns are only very subtly different from each other and from the fake voice-mail/radio/TV accent. I hear nearly the same speach in El Paso as I do at the juncture of Philly-talk and Hill-country-talk, south of Chicago before whatever non-Chicago accent takes over, much of the midwest, much of the West Coast (exluding stronger CA accents), much of Florida (probably due to so many people moving there from elsewhere).
Aaaand I’ve gotten off track. Anyway, no, you aren’t going to find much twang in El Paso.
I’ve read that there is more influence from peers, but I can’t remember where I read it in some “politics of language” class I took a few years back.
Maybe urban Texas, but neither of my parents have (had) a strong accent, and I didn’t get my accent from the media. My mom took me to speech therapist when I was young, about the time I started school IIRC. She was concerned about how I talked, he told her I just sounded like a Texan (she was from Arizona). I didn’t get it from the media that early in life, I think my paternal grandparents (who lived next door and I spent a lot of time with) had the most influence.