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Pleasant Ramblings: Texas Sayings, or Idioms

by / 0 Comments / 262 View / May 8, 2015

Mark Magnan

I get the privilege of talking to a lot of people, some of which are not native Texans, some are not even from America. So it stands to reason that there are things that seem normal to me, yet don’t make any sense to someone else, especially if they don’t understand Texas-speak. Living here in Belton it might be assumed that most everyone I meet is a native Texan, or at least been here long enough to know a lot of the things that are said in a regular conversation. Since I may have a wider audience than I first realized, let me see if I can bring a few of these to light and offer a reasonable translation into common terms.

I think one of the most “Texan” terms is the word “fixin”. Now this is a very useful word, filling many voids. Essentially it means; about to. As in “We are fixin to go to town”, in place of “We are about to go to town”. I am not sure of the exact origins of the word “fixin”, but we can assume it was a very well educated man. The term can be used with other versions of “fix”, as in; He is fixin to fix dinner. Or even; He is fixin to start fixing the truck.

Another idiom is; “Like a calf looking at a new gate”. This is a phrase used to show confusion. Cattle are fairly habitual animals, so something new in their lives can create something confusing within their world. The most common usage for us would be us noticing someone that was perplexed by something we consider routine, we would say he is like a calf looking at a new gate.

We use animals a lot in our idioms. Such as dogs. The phrase; “That old dog don’t hunt”, albeit poor English, it means that isn’t going to work. Or a phrase for saying that you won’t do something. Another dog analogy would be; “That dog’s barking up the wrong tree”. Now this might actually be more of a way to indicate that ‘said’ dog just ain’t too bright. It could be used for a person that just doesn’t get it, or is so confused they are way off.

Still using animals, how about; “He must have a burr under his saddle”. That is fairly common for someone in a foul mood, much like an irritable horse with a burr poking him. Not that it would take a burr to make a horse want to throw you off or even step on you. I am not convinced that horses actually are the lovable “Mr Ed” equines that we think they may be.

I have run through the times of day in Texas before, but I will review those again. Mornin, well just as it seems, around the time you get up, eat breakfast and all the way up to lunch time. You have lunch and dinner which are essentially the same, lunch is less formal and dinner might be at a cafe. Then you have “enin”, that is Texas slang for evening. Now this starts mid to late afternoon, depending on where you are in the state. It is runs from that point in time all the way through the night, this also includes the time when you eat supper, which is the evening meal.

There are a few others, some might be right on the line for a family newspaper, a few actually over the line. We live in a colorful state so it stands to reason that our language would differ from other parts of the country. We already stand out in the way we dress and live, so why not speak differently as well. Much of Texas history is colored with other cultures and people from states that we owe a lot to, so that all becomes who we are as Texans. This should be common knowledge for native Texans, for everyone else I hope this helps in some way. I’m fixin’ to wrap this up; see ya’ll next week.