Saturday, May 17, 2008

Get with it or go home

One way to spot a faux Texan: inappropriate use of colloquialisms.

Fer instance - any real Texan understands that the word "y'all" is only appropriate when designating more than one of y'all. The instant you transplanted Yankees address one Texan as y'all, you might as well pack it up and go home.

My newest source of aggravation from the foreigners in our midst is the overuse of the phrase "fixing to". Newcomers seem to think this phrase is quaint. They start trying to fit it into their conversation frequently in their effort to fit into our culture. Unfortunately they don't understand that unless the phrase slides into the conversation unnoticed, it doesn't work. We Texans can use the phrase and you won't even notice that it was uttered. The faux Texans trumpet it out like "hey, aren't I clever to know how to say 'fixing to'?".

"Fixing to" is never, ever, a phrase that is appropriate to include in written format. I've noticed a disturbing trend developing amongst the columnists of the Austin American-Statesman. This morning a columnist used the phrase twice in the space of one paragraph. How gauche can you be?

I was amused a few years ago by one of the younger native Texans I work with. I usually monitor my Texas-speak fairly well in the business environment, but one day I popped out with the word "ain't". He looked at me appalled. The gen-xer Texans had been working hard for some years to eliminate their unique Texas-speak heritage. I told him to relax. I knew better, but I grew up in small town Texas and some of it was bound to come out from time to time. But while I may slip verbally, I certainly never let it creep into my written communication. I know where and when Texas-speak is appropriate. (Which is not to say I don't sometimes purposefully slip into local vernacular when a stilted conversation gets boring and needs a well-placed jolt.)

Ok, 'nuff said. Y'all stop saying "fixing to" until you know when and where it fits into context, you hear?


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