1. Creed McCandy

    Creed McCandy New Member

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    Texas - Dialogue and Accent

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Creed McCandy, Jul 28, 2017.

    One of my characters is a Texan. I have been using different resources to try and familiarize myself with the accent and the lingo but nothing beats first hand experience. I have neither the time nor the funds to hop on a plane and fly across the world for research so I was hoping there might be some people from Texas on here that would kindly help an Aussie out. A female would be ideal as my character is female but I'll take what I can get. So gentlemen don't be shy.

    If you have the patience to endure ridiculously stupid questions we'll get along just fine. :rolleyes:
     
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  2. Commandante Lemming

    Commandante Lemming Contributor Contributor

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    I'm not Texan but I am Coloradoan and have known a bunch of people from Texas. The first question is where in Texas is the character from. Texas is where the South, West, and Southwest all collide - and despite a strong Texan identity (much stronger than many other states) there are large regional variations. If your character is from suburban Houston or Dallas, you don't want to do anything too crazy. If your character is from a small town, there's a massive difference between Texarkana (which is going to have a lot more in common with Arkansas and Louisiana), El Paso (which is going to have more to do with New Mexico), Amarillo (which is getting North toward Oklahoma), and Brownsville (which has massive over-the-border influence from Mexico).

    So, I'd narrow down things like location and social class before you decide how to render it. So, how are you envisioning this character? Western Cowgirl? Southern Belle? Strong-Willed Mexican-American? (that last one is my vote, lol) You've got a lot of options - although they all come in boots.

    Once you narrow that down, one of my favorite things to do is stalk the webpages of local news TV channels of the areas I'm dealing with to figure out how people talk and local quirks (I keep tabs on local news in both Northern Wisconsin and Northern Territory Australia this way.)
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2017
  3. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    1) Just a quick reminder that portraying an accent/dialect with nonstandard grammar and vocabulary is always acceptable, but portraying an accent/dialect with nonstandard spelling generally isn't (except for extremely generic misspellings like "ain't" or "gonna")

    2) I spent a few years in Texas as a kid, and the big thing I remember about colloquialisms was all the jokes about how Texans love everything big: big trucks, big servings, big houses, big animals...

    ...Slightly off-topic: more than the colloquialisms, I remember the fire ants.

    If you're not in Texas, and if an ant crawls on you when you're enjoying the outdoors, then there's no problem.

    If you're in Texas, and if an ant crawls on you while you're trying to enjoy the outdoors, then you have a few seconds to save yourself.

    Methanoic acid, the simplest organic acid known to modern chemistry, is also officially referred to as "Formic acid" because many chemists feel that the only thing you need to know about it is that fire ants will attack you with it.
     
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  4. Creed McCandy

    Creed McCandy New Member

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    So far this is what I've got (open to changes if completely unrealistic)

    She's originally from North Texas and grew up handling snakes in the Church of God with Signs with her father leading the congregation. Presently she lives in Houston or possibly nearby like Baytown or something. I see her accent being a little more city due to the length of time spent in Houston and her desire to escape her small town past but she can't completely lose it. Think of Silence of the Lambs, whenever she got nervous she sounded more southern. I hate to disappoint but this one doesn't come with boots. Think hipster glasses and Dr Who t-shirts without the big hair and make up.

    As for my portrayal of the accent, I don't plan on misspelling. I just want her voice to be realistic.

    And we have fire ants in Australia. Little bastards :twisted:
     
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  5. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin The game sour like a pickle be.... Contributor

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    Yeah, like @Commandante Lemming said, Texas is big. Like really big. Like bigger than France big.

    [​IMG]

    You can mentally move it around the map to get an idea. Lots of subcultures and accents there. I don't know much about the variations. I've got the Rhode Island Italian accent, which essentially sounds like a New Yorker with a mouth full of food. Maybe go watch No Country for Old Men? Not sure how accurate the voices are, but there's a variety of drawls in there, and it's a fun movie to boot!
     
  6. Creed McCandy

    Creed McCandy New Member

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    To a foreigner like me it all sounds like much of a muchness. I just hear the y'all and cream my panties so I definitely need help lol
     
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  7. Commandante Lemming

    Commandante Lemming Contributor Contributor

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    Okay, some quick thoughts here. North Texas you're getting really flat and very Western Influnces. It's grassland cattle country and you're pretty much square in the middle of what we think of as the American West. The few times I've been to anywhere in that general region of Texas (which is very little), you have a lot of cowboy stuff, cattle industry themed decoration (Seriously, the Dallas airport must be the single biggest inundation of of cow skulls used in decoration I've seen in my life - and I always say that airports are the cartoon version of what a city thinks it is).

    That brings me to my second point which is why is she in Houston? It is important. If she's from North Texas, the two easiest ways to move to the city are to go to Dallas, which is much closer and still huge, or go to Austin. Austin is a HUGE hipster mecca with a very quirky artsy local culture, and even people on the East Coast talk about moving to Austin - and still well North of Houston.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Austin,_Texas

    Houston, by the way, is right on the Coast and heavily defined by high heat and humidity - it gets SUPER humid there - and while it's still Texas I think of Houston and Houstonians as far less stereotypically Texan than either people from Dallas or Austin (or San Antonio for that matter - but San Antonio you start getting a lot more Mexican cultural influence).

    Depending what you mean by North Texas (I just checked and technically "North Texas" is defined as the area centered around Dallas - whereas that far northern tip is the "Texas Panhandle") - here's a list of local TV markets where you can look for stations that post broadcasts online (I find these by googling the name of the city and then adding one of the four major US TV networks - CBS, ABC, NBC, FOX). And if you wan't a list of media markets in the US - cities which have their own local newscasts - click here.

    MEDIA MARKETS OF INTEREST:

    Amarillo (Northern Panhandle)
    Lubbock (Southwestern Part of the Panhandle)
    Sherman (North Texas, right up against the Oklahoma Border)
    Wichita Falls (Also against the Oklahoma Border - right where the Panhandle meets the rest of state)


    Also, one last thing. The boots are non-optional. Not as an everyday thing, but if she's from a smallish-town in rural Texas, she owns at least one pair (maybe more) and is totally comfortable wearing them with a Doctor Who shirt and hipster glasses - she would not see any logical inconsistencies there. Also, country music is going to be unavoidable in her life - either she loves it despite herself, or hates it but can't get away from it. I know that might sound stereotypical but, again, as someone who's not been there much but met a lot from there - the sense of regional identity is STRONG (including, and especially, in uber-progressive Austin - again, a town that sees no inconsistency in the idea of being hipster cowboys).

    Any actual Texans feel free to break in and correct me, as I'm sure I'm overplaying certain aspects.
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2017
  8. archer88i

    archer88i Banned Contributor

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    Genuine Texan. My family has lived here since the early 19th century, so we're actually citizens and everything. (Legally, you aren't a Texan until the third generation. There are exceptions for people who died at the Alamo, but that's about it.) Here are some notes from my perspective:

    1. "Ain't" is not a misspelling. I won't get into the history lesson here, but it's an actual word.
    2. "North Texas" is not usually where an outsider thinks it is, so I'll mention this just in case.
    3. There is no difference "pen" and "pin," or "ten" and "tin".
    4. "Oil" is a one-syllable word throughout every part of Texas I've ever been in. This is in contrast to many other Southern states.

    "North Texas" describes the area around Dallas. If you're looking at the actual northern part of the state, we call that the Panhandle. Furthermore, West Texas starts just under the Panhandle, and extends west from there. This is because Texas was explored from the south side north, not the other way around.

    Stone Cold Steve Austin is legitimately from Texas (near the Gulf Coast, which would be an eastern/southern accent). So is Matthew McConaughey--from more toward the western end of the state. For your locale, Stone Cold is probably more relevant. From my part of the country (the Panhandle/West Texas), you have Ron White, who is fucking hilarious.

    We take a lot of inspiration from the Duke in the way we talk: it's better to use a short sentence and long words. Since some sentences are just long, we have developed some additional vocabulary that stitches long sequences of words into a single word, which we can then drag out for fun and profit. "Howdy" is one such example: "How do you do?"

    Another thing I might point out is that people will always notice if you don't speak like a Texan, and it's not a thing you get compliments on. Rather, it's a thing you get teased for. Exactly how thick your accent needs to be depends on how far out in the country you get, but even in Dallas we look on Yankees (remember, by law, that's anyone whose grandfather and father were not both born here) with a mixture of derision and pity. A good Texas accent hides a sharp intellect behind a casual, easygoing drawl, and is the perfect accent for telling someone to get fucked.

    P.S. We do not actually have any laws about how long your family has to have lived here, but that's the kind of thing we'll tease people about. The common phrase from newcomers is, "Well, I wasn't born here, but I got here as fast as I could," which invites all manner of teasing.
     
  9. archer88i

    archer88i Banned Contributor

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    Comments on what Comrade Lemming said--which is largely correct.

    North Texas isn't particularly prairie-like. It's definitely wetter and greener and tree-ier here than it is in the Panhandle or most of the Great Plains. It has *hints* of the American West, but only hints. It can also be extremely hilly, especially once you get down toward Central Texas (which is just south of Dallas). Note: I say "just," but for people not from Texas, that might be a long way. When I was a kid, we drove almost 700 miles to visit my grandparents and they lived in the same state.

    A lot of the "cow" stuff in DFW is not so much because we raised cattle here, but because the railhead was here--the Fort Worth stockyard was where cattlemen (that's what a grown-up cowboy is) came to sell their stock. (Still is, but there are more options now, of course.)

    Some people honestly just don't wear boots once they grow up, but everyone *has* worn them. Actually, the cool thing about boots is that, in Texas, they can be considered formal wear, so you can wear them and not feel like such an asshat when you get dressed up.

    Other random thoughts:

    We think Okies are a little stupid, but we still like 'em ok. God bless 'em, they can't help themselves.

    We see New Mexico as a third world shithole. Sometimes it's fun to visit, but God help anyone who wants to live there.

    Colorado is nice and all, but those trees and mountains are claustrophobic--and there's no point worrying about the Coloradans themselves. A lot of them are just weird.

    No one has any reason to go to Arkansas. Ever.

    Louisiana is one notch about Arkansas. Just one. Don't go crazy, now.

    Austin is full of [censored]. When we get around to putting up a border wall, it's gonna go all the way around the outside of the state (including all of the other states we border on) and then all the way around Austin, too. >.<

    San Antonio is a terrible city, but it's home to the Shrine, so everyone goes at least once. (...Yeah, we basically see the Alamo as a shrine.)

    In addition to being hot, humid, and miserable, Houston *stinks.* It's a side-effect of all the refineries there. You just can't breathe in Houston if you don't live there, so don't even try.
     
  10. X Equestris

    X Equestris Contributor Contributor

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    Wikipedia gives a nice rundown on Texan linguistic quirks.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Texan_English

    Putting those in will almost certainly be better than trying to phonetically write out the accent.
     
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  11. Commandante Lemming

    Commandante Lemming Contributor Contributor

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    This post is gold
     
  12. archer88i

    archer88i Banned Contributor

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    The first thing that caught my eye is the "wh" vs "w" thing they mention. I get a lot of comments from people who notice that I pronounce the H. >.> They also mention pin/pen, ten/tin, etc. I'm curious how you'd manage to portray these things in text, though.

    "Fixin' to" is pronounced totally differently depending on where it goes in the sentence, but just including it in the text will probably be enough. People in my generation will also sometimes shorten it to just "f'g'n'a." Which. You know. Pronounce that if you dare. :| Of course, it would still be spelled "fixing to." A good candidate. Another is "might could." "Like to have" is also nice.

    I don't hear the "a-" prefix thing often, except after "ain't." "I ain't a'gonna do it."
     
  13. Commandante Lemming

    Commandante Lemming Contributor Contributor

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    Also, referencing my earlier post about Houston and whether it's the right "big city" - I cross referenced metro area population in Texas and Austalia so you can get an idea of what the feel of each place is. It's a surprisingly exact figure.

    There are 24 million people in Australia. There are 27 million people in Texas.

    Houston and Dallas are both on par with Sydney - maybe a bit bigger depending on how you count.

    San Antonio is the same size as Perth

    Austin is almost exactly the same size as Adelaide.

    I think the US is more generous with what counts as part of the metro area, but still.
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2017
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  14. Creed McCandy

    Creed McCandy New Member

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    Obviously I'm not going to be able to write all the dialogue exactly how it sounds but having some things in there for authenticity appeals to me. Fixin' to lol love that. I have noticed the wh sound. I also noticed that an I sound at the end of a word like bye, pie, die softens into almost an a.
     
  15. archer88i

    archer88i Banned Contributor

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    Yeah. I've seen people spell that out as "bah" instead of "bye," for instance. That's a common feature in the Panhandle, for sure; my old man talks that way.
     
  16. Creed McCandy

    Creed McCandy New Member

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    I knew a girl from Houston a long time ago and her bye sounded like bah to my ears
     
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  17. Creed McCandy

    Creed McCandy New Member

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    @Commandante Lemming I chose Houston for all the reasons you listed. Austin doesn't appeal to me. By North Texas I mean wherever the tornadoes rip the place to pieces which I'm guessing is a very vague answer lol
     
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  18. Creed McCandy

    Creed McCandy New Member

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    My friend from Houston and her friends didn't wear boots. So I'm thinking it might be too stereotypical of me to slap boots on every Texan in my story.
     
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  19. Commandante Lemming

    Commandante Lemming Contributor Contributor

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    Actually not vague. The closer to Arkansas the Better. So you might look at East Texas
     
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  20. marshipan

    marshipan Contributor Contributor

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    I'm a Houstonian! Though, a newish transfer so I'm afraid I can't be too much help with dialect. One thing about Houston is it's apparently one of the most diverse cities around now. When I was closer in the city I lived near Korea town. There was tons of Koreans, Vietnamese, Whites, and Mexicans just in that spot. On the other-side of the highway (one minute away without traffic) was a richer area and there was less diversity, but there was also Japanese folks on that side. Houston is certainly thick of whatever you want. A Russian bought up my old office and kicked me out so I've moved out to "the country" and it's more white and southern out here. I think you should make sure to include some colloquialisms. "I dotted her eyes" (beat her) is a good one I heard around here. Another fun thing I heard (it's not colloquialism but great) from a guy who said his Daddy taught him you never ask a man where he's from. Because if he's not from Texas he'll be ashamed and if he is from Texas you don't even need to ask (because you'll know).

    If she's in Houston, you must mention traffic. I've never seen such horrible traffic in other places I've lived. If you go out at rush hour it will take you three hours to get twenty miles down the road. And yeah, like mentioned, it is hot and sticky/humid. I like to capitalize Heat when talking about it here. I wake up at sunrise during the summer to run because I'm too stubborn to use a gym and some days it's just impossible to keep going because the air is so thick. Plus, I run so slow no matter how hard I think I'm going.
    Sweat pours into your eyes if you go out in your yard for more than five minutes and if you swipe it off there will just be more in thirty seconds. It is oppressive.
     
  21. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

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    I was married in Arkansas and I was supposed to go to Harding University (Go Razorbacks), so I wouldn't say no one has any reason to go to Arkansas, just not very good ones.

    One thing I did notice down there was everyone seemed to use "Bless your heart," a lot like Canadians use "Sorry," but I never noticed anyone with an egregiously stereotypical "Suthahn" accent.
     
  22. archer88i

    archer88i Banned Contributor

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    Most people don't sound Southern here. But "bless your heart" translates to "fuck you," not "sorry." Maybe that's what "sorry" means in Canuck?
     
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  23. archer88i

    archer88i Banned Contributor

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    Tornadoes are more common as you get farther north. They're particularly bad in Oklahoma and the Panhandle (although the Panhandle is empty, so no one notices). But Waco, Texas, was set to be a major city, way back when, until a tornado destroyed most of it, so they range fairly far south, too.
     
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  24. Creed McCandy

    Creed McCandy New Member

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    Thanks for all these brilliant responses! If we could keep the focus more on the lingo that would be fantastic for me :) I feel like I already have a handle on Houston as a city. I'm more interested in the speech, but everyone's insights have been really useful!
     
  25. Commandante Lemming

    Commandante Lemming Contributor Contributor

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    The reason I've been trying to nail you down on geography is that my advice on "lingo" is to go watch local TV or YouTube videos about where she's from. That's going to drive a lot of those sorts of things.
     
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