Friday, February 6, 2009

Say What?

I've moved a lot in my life, mainly within the United States, except for several years in Canada. It seems like every time I get settled in a new place I have to learn a new language. As much as we often tend to talk like TV newscasters--that "neutral" or midwestern-ish accent--there are still lots of regional variations, thank goodness. Long may they continue!

Different accents are fairly easy to get your ear tuned to, especially when you are surrounded by a particular regional one. Think of a southern drawl, or a Boston "pahk the cah" kind of accent. It may be puzzling or even a little jarring at first, but you will eventually make the adjustment. For instance, when I lived in British Columbia, I was able to work out the word "Chewsday" from its context--as in, "I'll see you next Chewsday (Tuesday)." Believe me, the British Columbians were onto me right away. I would get just a couple of words out before they would nod and say knowingly, "So, you're a Yank, eh?"

But every region still has a number of sayings or expressions that you might not hear elsewhere. West Texas (and let me tell you, the plains of eastern New Mexico are considered a part of West Texas) has plenty of exceptionally delightful ones. I've been making a little collection, which I present to you here. Definitions are at the bottom of the page. A few of them might sound familiar, especially as our former President lived in West Texas.

1. Whopper-jawed

2. Out of pocket

3. Looks like she's been rode hard and put up wet

4. Gully washer

5. Root hog, or die!

6. Djeetyet?

7. This ain't my first rodeo

8. It's so dry the trees are bribin' the dogs

9. All hat and no cattle

10. They ate supper before they said grace

11. They're splittin' the sheets

12. We've howdied but we ain't shook yet

13. You can put your boots in the oven but that don't make them biscuits


1. Whopper-jawed: Crooked--or cattywampus, in some sections of the country

2. Out of pocket: Absent, can't be found--Keys, for instance, can be out of pocket (not necessarily lost, just not immediately findable); although I've heard a person say they've been "out of pocket" after a short absence

3. Looks like she's been rode hard and put up wet: This might describe a haggard-looking female

4. Gully washer: Hard rain

5. Root hog, or die!: Do it yourself, no one else is gonna

6. Djeetyet?: Did you eat yet?

7. This ain't my first rodeo: I've been around a while

8. It's so dry the trees are bribin' the dogs: We could really use some rain

9. All hat and no cattle: All talk and no action

10. They ate supper before they said grace: They are living in sin

11. They're splittin' the sheets: They are getting a divorce

12. We've howdied but we ain't shook yet: We've met briefly but haven't been formally introduced

13. You can put your boots in the oven but that don't make them biscuits: You can say whatever you want about something but that doesn't change what it is




DJ’s Texas State of Mind


Sylvia K said...

By golly, recognized every one of them! Damn, my Texas background catches up with me again! Even though I haven't lived in Texas in a very long time and truly tried to get rid of the accent when I was doing little theater stuff, every now and then, someone will stop and look at me and ask "are you from Texas??" some of it just hangs on! Fun post! Thanks!

Judy said...

I recognized a lot of these, too. Some, I have heard all my life like "whopper jawed". Enjoyed visiting with you again. It has been a while but I am up and running after 11 days without internet. I have a lot of catching up to do!

Linda said...

Felt like I was back in Texas. A fun post.

Here in Oregon that comment everytime I open my mouth. I have a strong Texas accent.