Educating the world about Texas one Yankee at at time.

Educating the world about Texas one Yankee at a time.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Lost in translation: texting Texas-style

The thought of sending text messages on a cell phone in Texan makes my head throb.

A Yankee friend of mine once asked, “How would a person send a text message in the Texas vernacular?” I spent the afternoon mopping my brains off my desk after that one. The answer? IDK. I don’t know.

In Texan—minus instant message speak—it’d be “damifino.” Say it slowly, make that second “i” a long “i” and make sure the children aren’t in the room with you when you do it.

I promise, it’ll make sense.

I’m not sure how to make that work for text messaging, though. Try texting that while walking down the street and you’ll end up in a ditch.

But let’s cogitate on the subject for a moment, shall we?

Technology and Texas have a long-standing history. Texas Instruments produced the first calculator I ever held in my hands. I won’t tell you how long ago that was, but the thing cost about $100 and we had to drive all the way to Dallas to get it.

Let’s not go there. I’d rather not talk about how old I am.

Austin houses as much silicon as Silicon Valley. Houston and NASA are synonymous. You would think since Texas is home to so much geekdom we’d have that text messaging thing down.

Not so.

“Texan” is a rich, colorful amalgam of descriptions, humor and twang. It is difficult to distill something that prolific down to a mess of acronyms and maintain the vibrant colloquial texture and hue of the delivery. How can one convey “oh my gosh” as spoken by a Texan (oh mah gawsh) with just OMG?

I swear on the soul of Mirabeau B. Lamar it cannot be done.

Let us examine W. I mean, of course, the nickname we all use in reference to the 43rd president of the United States. Texans took that simple letter and turned it into “Dubya.” We turned the man’s name into a text message/IM speak moniker and then stretched it all out lengthwise.

Why use one letter when five will do? That, my friends, is the soul of speaking in fluent Texan. So you see the conundrum borne of trying to simplify that which cannot—should not—be simplified. But then, as with all things, there is one shining exception.


It was IM speak before there was instant or text messaging. It is, essentially, “you all” (singular) rendered to the efficient, succinct and lyric “y’all,” the plural of which is “all y’all.” And it holds within it the nucleus of all things Texas and Texan. It is brief, descriptive, and colorful, and it innately possesses that all-important twang even in print.

So, is it possible to send text message in Texan? Not entirely, but it is possible to put the Texas touch to it using the simple, versatile, quintessentially Texan pronoun “y’all”.

Other than that, the news is not good. I sincerely doubt there’s a SIM card made that could handle texting in Texan, and frankly, your fingers would fall clean off your hands trying to make it happen.

But if you find a way to do it, let me know. Until then, TTY’allL.

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