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Thank You Kindly

Linguist Lars Hinrichs and his student researchers in the Texas English Project collect and analyze field recordings of native Texans speaking in a casual setting.

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Is the Texas twang fixin’ to die out? Not necessarily, says Lars Hinrichs, assistant professor of English language and linguistics and director of the Texas English Project. Despite the drastic changes in the Lone Star State’s iconic accent, Texans will continue to use their twang, but only in certain contexts.

As part of the Texas English Project, which began in 2008, Hinrichs, and his team of student researchers are collecting dozens of interviews with native Texans and documenting the various factors that influence how they speak. According to their findings, the local dialect is becoming more of a choice rather than a function of place.

To study how native Texans speak in a casual setting, the team videotaped the entire four-hour shifts of young, urban Austinites interacting with customers at the Bouldin Creek Coffeehouse. After transcribing and coding hours of audio recordings, they found even the young city-dwellers systematically revert to old Texas phrases at opportune times.

While ringing up his customers, Luke Malone, a 25-year-old native Texan, consistently used the old-timey Southern phrase, “Thank you kindly.”

Read the complete “Do you speak Texan?” feature.