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Writing a novel set in Texas? Know your "Texas Grammar"

May 8, 2017

I am not a native Texan, but have lived in Texas, on and off, for decades.  Over the years, I've learned that Texans sometimes treat grammatical rules like guidelines, and that some Texas euphemisms make no immediate sense.

 

For authors seeking authenticity in their Texas-themed manuscripts, I offer the following examples: 

 

1. “I’m fixinta go out tonight.” “Fixin’ to” is an acceptable variant. As verbs, "fixinta" and "fixin’ to" could be synonymous with the phrases, “getting ready to,” “preparing to,” or “about to.” Only a non-native would make the mistake of saying, “I am fixing to go out tonight.” That just sounds silly.

 

2.  “I blew dried my hair.” “Done blew dried” is an acceptable variant, and reflects that the speaker dried her hair at some point earlier than the immediate past.

 

3.  “He drug me out of there.” True Texans know the difference between “drug” as a noun, and “drug” as the past tense (in Texan) of “to drag.”

 

4.  “I like to have died when I heard that!” In this context, “like to have” is used not as a verb, but as an adverb to modify the noun, “died.” “Like to have” synonyms include the words “nearly,” “almost,” or in some cases, “could have.”

 

5.   “Are ya’ll going out tonight, or are all ya’all going?” “Ya’ll is the singular form of “you,” and “all ya’all” refers to a group.

 

6.   "He crawfished on me!"  We all know that a “crawfish” is a fresh water crustacean popular in Cajun cooking. In Texas, “to crawfish” means “to flip," “to change positions,” or “to change one’s mind.” Thus, when I heard a lawyer say that his witness crawfished on him, what the lawyer meant was that the witness changed his testimony to the attorney’s detriment.

 

7.  “I’m doing fair to Midland.” This expression is used to convey that the speaker is doing okay.  Not great, but okay. It's also used to convey a fair weather day.

 

8.  “The hay is in the barn.” This expression is used to convey the sentiment that "what's done is done." 

 

9.  “Oh my gosh, we mugged last night!” In Texan, "to mug" means to make out, not to rob someone. 

 

10. "That there was longer than a month of Sundays!"  This phrase means, "Wow, that lasted forever!"

 

11.  "I don't cotton to that."  Here (and don't ask me why because it makes no sense to me), "cotton" means "to like," "to agree with or to," "to relate to," or "to care for."  Put another way, the expression usually means, "I don't agree with (or like) that." 

 

Hope all y'all can cotton to that and have a fair to Midland day.

 

 

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