“You have amazing diction and enunciation,” my new neighbor and friend Ann said to me. “You should be a public speaker!”
“Well, thanks. And for the record, I was a public speaker for years and taught public speaking one on one to senior executives,” I said.
“Yes!” Ann said, “I knew it!! We kinda destroy the language here in Texas, don’t we?”
“Well, yeah, in some ways, you do,” I replied.
Ann is highly educated and was an educator herself for years and years. And, she is a Texan through and through.
I will never say “ya’ll”, “fixin’ ta leave”, or “jus’ sayin’” no matter how long I have to live in Texas! I mentioned in a post a while back that I have been complimented here in Texas on my accent. “It’s an intelligent accent,” one Texan told me. However, I’ve also been reprimanded.
“Ma’am,” a bartender once admonished me when I complained to him about inconsistencies, “don’t ever try to apply correct English grammar to Texas slang.”
I’m from Southern California and my mother was a stickler for the spoken language and corrected my siblings and me constantly as we were growing up. That has been a blessing. We’re all well spoken and the language section of entrance exams were always a walk in the park for us.
Dangling participles are my mother’s worst enemy; I adopted that enemy and my friend Debbie suffers for it. Or, at least she used to. (If you don’t know what a dangling participle is, shame on you. At in the horrid sentence Where are you at? is a dangling participle. The correct sentence would be simply Where are you? There is nothing dangling in that beautiful and concise sentence. I can think of a few things that are very nice dangling, participles are not one of them.
After I knew Deb for nine or so years, I finally felt comfortable correcting her when those danglers resonated in my body like an electric shock. I explained to her why she might want to stop it and for about eight months she made a heroic effort. One day however, she simply stopped. I called her on it and while I won’t repeat her response here, (I just remember it had an “F” in it) I knew it was time let Debbie be Debbie. Debbie will probably be Debbie in the comments section of this post.
Anyway, back to my new friend Ann. My friend Tim and I were returning from the vet when we let my two dogs out of the car off leash just as a woman I had not yet met in my new neighborhood was walking by my house with a small dog. For some reason, my 100 pound golden retriever Troy, hates small dogs. He raced over barking, growling and crouching like he was going to take that dogs head off. I was screaming, Tim was balancing a huge box of light bulbs we bought on the way home in his arms and the woman was trying to coordinate the confusion, her dog and the leash, which was becoming dangerously wrapped around her legs. I’m no spring chicken and I knew she wasn’t either but I later learned Ann is 87 years old.
To my horror, she went down. Onto the rough pavement. I raced over and grabbed Troy by the collar and dragged him into the house while Tim did what he could to tend to the woman on the ground and a very frightened little dog. I ran back out apologizing profusely wondering if she broke a hip or worse.
“I’m fine!” she said, “I love dogs and I understand dogs; I just want to go home,” and off she went up the street. Tim and I were both shaken but relieved to see she seemed to be walking well.
Tim went to visit her immediately to be sure she was okay while I went in, got online and sent a huge bouquet of flowers and a box of chocolates to be delivered that same day to Ann’s house. Another lovely concept I learned from my mother. The next day I received a beautifully handwritten note from Ann and we have become fast friends visiting each other often.
So jus’ sayin’, ya’ll. Since I’m not fixin’ to leave Texas anytime soon, i’m so grateful to have my beautiful friend Debbie waiting for my eventual return to Scottsdale, Arizona, my wonderful friend Tim who helps me with so many things here in Texas, my new friend Ann in my new neighborhood and my amazing mother’s influence in the person I am today.