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Thread: U.S.A. Culture and Language Help

  1. #1

    U.S.A. Culture and Language Help

    I am a Texan and use lots of Texasisms when I talk, and since most of my story takes place in Texas, I have used several in my writing.

    In your opinion, do you believe that using "Howdy" and "y'all" and "fixin-to"(one word, verb) and "jeet?"(did you eat?) and "Bubba"(I do know kids named that) and "supper" (dinner), are corny and overused by Texans? What about cowboy hats and boots? What about constant Mexican food and Whataburger(Best fast food ever)? Rodeos? Would they make my characters too stereotypical Texan, or more realistic?

    Thank you.

  2. #2
    Ron x Hermione
    Well, I think it kind of depends on what you're writing about exactly. Are you writing about the Trio and the canon characters? Because they most definitely wouldn't talk like that. But, if you're having characters from Texas going to Hogwarts or something (which they wouldn't go to Hogwarts because there would be a closer school than Britain in America) or some other Wizarding school, then I think that you could have a bit of humour as to them speaking that way, but other than that, I think you should have them speaking normally. But that's just Lindsey's opinion.

    Supper is a widely used word in America (I don't know about Britain), so I think that that would be fine. 'Ya'll' is typically used only in the south, which is where I'm from, but don't tend to overuse it.

    "jeet?"(did you eat?) - I've only seen this on a t-shirt, and I didn't get it until someone told it to me. I don't think this the best one to use. Bubba- I've heard of kids named that, but I don't know about it in fan fiction.

    Depending on how you've written it and what's going on, then I think that has to deal with your cliched'ness and stereotypicalness. I would recommend the Skelo_Gro forum to help you out.

    I'm just kind of curious as to how this ties into your story.

    You have to remember though, not all Texans talk like that.


  3. #3

    I agree with Ron x Hermione. It all depends on the context of how you use the Texanisms.

    You have to remember though, not all Texans talk like that.
    I myself being Texan do tend to say "y'all" and "all y'all" (plural of y'all) and "fixin-to" though I do not say "howdy" except to be funny and "dinner" is called just that. I've never owned a pair of cowboy boots, only been to a rodeo once, and don't know anyone named Bubba (with the exception that that's the nickname I used for my brothers growing up because "bubba" or "bubby" was short for "brother".) I don't live on a ranch or eat steak and eggs for breakfast. I do, however, love Mexican food and cornbread. I detest country music.

    I think the key is moderation. Too many Texanisms will be cliche and stereotyped, but a throwing in a few will be realistic. Good luck!


  4. #4
    red and gold
    Howdy y'all!

    I saw this thread and reckon I'd mosey on over.

    I'm a Texas girl, born and raised. I have one pair of cowboy boots, have been to several rodeos, Stock Shows, and State Fairs. I have an Uncle Bubba, I adore Mexican food and Whataburger and if you open our fridge, you'll see a LOT of Dr.Pepper. And, up until a month ago when it bit the dust, I drove a pick-up truck. (It had a Star Wars Rebel Alliance sticker on the back glass. I'm a total geek.)

    I did have a phase that lasted two years of listening to country music, but it made me too depressed. Too much lovin' and leavin'.

    As far as writing about Texas and using authentic Texan-isms, you can't go wrong using y'all and fixin'. "Reckon" is used a bit, but not much and "howdy" - as Ashley points out - is usually said to be funny. We use the words breakfast, lunch and dinner for the different meals. In my experience - but this may differ depending on what part of Texas you're from - only the older folks uses the word "supper" for the last meal of the day.

    Cowboy boots are okay, but they're usually only worn around here when going to rodeos, or state fairs or stock shows. Same with cowboy hats. Cowboy hats are more fashionable for women right now - but they're more like the one Julia Roberts wore during the baseball game scene in "The Runaway Bride". I hardly ever see a guy wearing a cowboy hat -they wear baseball caps mostly.

    Most everyone loves Mexican food around these parts, but I don't think it's cliche to mention barbeque, cole slaw, potato salad - all the typical Southern fair. I can't tell you how many lunch meetings I've gone to where they had barbeque catered in. And every Labor Day, Memorial Day, any holiday where family gets together seems to call for ribs or brisket and sweet tea.

    I personally don't live on a ranch, but several of my husband's relatives raise horses or Angus cattle on their land.

    I guess my only advice is to repeat what Ashley said - everything in moderation. Barbeque is good, but not for every meal. "Y'all" is said a lot, but not every other word. We don't all like country music and though many drive pick-em-up trucks, not everyone does. Otherwise, I think you're doin' alright, pardner!

  5. #5
    Not actually being from Texas, but being from the south I can relate to this a bit. The Texas-isms you've said there are great, but I can honestly say I have never seen 'did you eat?' spelled 'jeet?'. That's a little over the top to me...

    As Ron x Hermione said, I think it would be helpful to update us on how you are relating the south to your stories. It is a bit tough to think of Harry walking around in cowboy boots and a jean jacket, eating coleslaw and saying, "Howdy, y'all!".

  6. #6
    Please bear in mind that two of the largest cities in the country are Houston and Dallas, and most people do not talk that way in either of those cities, or in San Antonio or Austin.

    Austin has been called the San Francisco of the southwest and is noted for being almost aggressively liberal. It's also noted for the University of Texas.

    Southlake is renowned for its high school football.

    Irving and Valley Ranch for the Dallas Cowboys.

    Highland Park and Plano for the really snotty rich people, who would no sooner say "jeet" than eat a plate full of dung beetles.

    McAllen, Laredo, El Paso and Brownsville are noted for their proximity to Mexico and borders, with all that entails, including language and culture.

    San Antonio is noted for the Alamo and the Riverwalk.

    Corpus Christi, South Padre Island and Galveston are college Spring Break party towns.

    Bryan/College Station is noted for Texas A&M.

    Lubbock is noted for Texas Tech.

    Waco, among other things (*cough*) is noted for Baylor University.

    There are several major military bases in Texas, including (but not limited to) San Angelo, Killeen, San Antonio, Fort Worth, El Paso and Wichita Falls, and military bases and towns are a whole different animal.

    So it depends on *where*, exactly, in Texas you're talking about.

  7. #7
    OK, this thread, though titles U.S.A Culture and Language Help, has, apperently, been dominated by all of the Texans here on the boards. So I decided that we needed one of us Northeners to keep things diverse, and all.

    I live in New York (the STATE, NOT the city), and I'm not too far from Massachusetts. The capital city is Albany, and other big citys, besides N.Y.C., are Troy, Syracuse, Saratoga, and Buffalo (if you are in the western part of the state). Around here, we have rather hot and extremely humid summers, wet springs, nice falls that gradually falls into winter, and cold winters. For the past few years, we haven't gotten much snow, and I haven't had a white Christmas in ages. Blizzards don't often happen, though school has been canceled and delayed many, many times.

    We don't have many special things, though Saratoga is known for it's horse racing. Martin Van Buren, a U.S. president, was born in Kinderhook, and Ichabod Crane's (The Headless Horseman from the LEgend of Sleepy Hollow) schoolhouse is located in the same area. Several legends take place around here, including the one forementioned, and Rip Van Winkle.

    We just have regular life; we don't do anything particularly different from anyone else. Football, soccer, baseball, and basketball are all popular. We have preps, nerds, punks, and everything else in between.

    Well, I'm done ranting.

  8. #8
    Rita Skeeter
    Hello fellow Texans (note the absences of howdy)

    Cowboy boots are okay, but they're usually only worn around here when going to rodeos, or state fairs or stock shows. Same with cowboy hats. Cowboy hats are more fashionable for women right now - but they're more like the one Julia Roberts wore during the baseball game scene in "The Runaway Bride". I hardly ever see a guy wearing a cowboy hat -they wear baseball caps mostly.
    Two things: First, I want to say that in my experience, the strictly-Rodeo cowboy boots rule usually only applies to girls (and very loosely for that matter). I see boys (of ALL ages) wearing boots around town all the time -- on pretty much any occasion. Though, I think it should be noted, for those who are unfamiliar with this concept, that these boots are rarely ever "working" boots (a.k.a. hardcore ranching boots). They are usually worn for show, and just to look nice under your jeans. Also, I would like to note that boots are most often worn UNDER jeans -- meaning, that only the toes/foot part of the boots are visible.

    Second thing is, as far as cowboy hats go, (again, in MY experience) those are also typically restricted to men. I don't think I have ever seen a woman wearing a cowboy hat casually (like out to the supermarket or something), but I see men wearing them all the time -- and mostly older men. Younger men not so much. Teenagers and bellow, basically not at all. I live in Georgetown right now (about thirty minutes outside Austin), but I grew up in Houston, which is a damn big city, so it's not like I'm out in the boonies or anything.

    Other than that, I agree with pretty much everything that is being said. "Y'all" is a very typical and frequented word used down here (it is a perfectly logical contraction mkay!), and Whataburger is quite popular indeed. My friend's uncle actually used to own Whataburger, and he is the one who changed the colors to orange and white because he loves UT so much xD (Hook 'em horns!)

    Anyways, there's my two cents on being a Texan.

    Oh, and I do own cowboy boots, two cowboy hats, and I go to the Houston live stock show and rodeo every year, and it is awesome thank you very much.

    Also, I do not ride a cow to school.

    I would not have said this if I hadn't ACTUALLY been asked that question before. I am not making this up.

    Nor do I own a horse. My friend does, people down my street actually breed horses, and yes there are a fair share of cows around. But I personally do not have one "tethered" outside my house.

    It is also not uncommon for people who live in the city to have a "ranch" out in the country. My family used to have one out near Brenham, and a ridiculous amount of my friends also own ranches as well. However, I would like to point out that when I say "ranch" that typically does not mean an actual "working" ranch, where they wrangle cattle and plow the field and all that. Though those are not unheard of either.

    Oops, went on a little bit longer than I anticipated. Oh well! Sorry folks, I do love my Texas.

    And no I do not have a "Texas drawl." That is also quite uncommon (though not unheard of).

    Hope this was helpful

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Ashley
    I myself being Texan do tend to say "y'all" and "all y'all" (plural of y'all)
    I thought "y'all" was the plural form? Man... And to think that "you" used to be the plural of "thou". Then the language was made less formal, and people kept calling people "you" instead of "thou", and "you" became singular form as well as plural. Then some people started saying "you all", shortened to "y'all", to differentiate between the plural and the singular, and now "y'all" has become so widely used as singular that people are saying "all y'all"? Language evolution sure is interesting. *head spins*

  10. #10
    red haired mom
    I can't resist putting in my two knuts on this topic.

    I am from the South, more specifically, from Mississippi. While I agree with a lot of the comments abounding, I have to say, I am guilty of saying "all y'all" on occasion. Most of the time though, I use the more correct "all of you".

    While they might be enjoyed around the world, here in the South, we pride ourselves on the food we prepare and eat. There is nothing like fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and corn on the cob when you want to have a picnic. Along with all of the food mentioned before, think fried things (in moderation) such as; okra, squash, green tomatoes, etc. And who can resist red beans and rice with corn bread?

    I personally know men and women who wouldn't leave the house without their boots on, and some of them without their cowboy hats on. I don't think it's confined to Texas, it's an American thing. You can find people wearing them all over our wonderful country.

    As far as the rest of the 'slang' of the South, I have only ever heard the term 'jeet' in a Jeff Foxworthy performance.
    Bubba is an overused nickname for boys. Most of the time their names aren't anywhere near Bubba. But they are called that anyway.
    'fixin to' is mainly caused by the Drawl most of us have. Think of the Cockney accent in London, it's basically the same principle. Dropping letters when you say the words.
    'Supper' vs 'Dinner' this is dependent upon many factors. I was raised to call it supper when it's everyday, family around the table. When it's a special occasion, such as a Holiday, or going out to eat, or having a party, it is called dinner. Supper is more informal, and dinner is more 'special'.
    And unless I'm trying to be funny, I've never used the word 'howdy' without the word doody behind it to reference the TV show from years and years ago.

    I have been asked before why the South has such an aversion to education. I don't want to be insulting, so please don't take it that way. If a story is written either based in the South, or using Southern influences, overusing phrases that you know aren't used that much only makes us look backward and uneducated. Think about the rules posted on MNFF. When you write Ron, he doesn't use the word 'mate' every other word does he?

    It goes back to what everyone else has already said, everything in moderation. And please, please don't try to use a beta that doesn't hail from the South, or if you want to be more specific, Texas. No one else would get the references, or know if they were used correctly.

    /my two knuts


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