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Lou’s Views
How do you pronounce?
Thursday, July 2, 2009 • Posted July 2, 2009

How do you pronounce?

“We’re going to Hico tomorrow,” I said to my friend.

“Hico?” she laughed, emphasizing the “ick” sound a tad too gleefully. “Don’t you mean Hico?”

Well, I didn’t think I meant Hico. Dan and I had always pronounced it with a short i and never thought anything about it. So, why was it pronounced with a long i?

“Think of it this way,” my friend said. If you’re from the country some people call you a hick, but if you take a long walk, you take a hike. Right?”

I didn’t particularly appreciate this phonetics lesson, and I gave her a dirty look. Besides, it wasn’t just one town that we’d had problems with, it was several of them.

When we lived in Dallas, we were on the border of Plano—as a matter of fact, my girls went to Plano schools for years. So when we moved to Horseshoe Bay and one of the neighboring towns was Llano, how do you think we pronounced it?

The same way as Plano, of course. The only difference is one letter and it’s not one that should even affect the pronunciation.

As we all know, it does not sound like Plano at all, and I have never heard an explanation. That’s just the way it’s said.

How about the Pedernales River? When you look at the spelling, it clearly should be pronounced Ped-er-na-les. That is how I pronounced it.

Unfortunately I said it in front of a native Texas who laughed out loud. “I can tell you’re not from Texas,” she said.

“Why?” I asked, thinking that my northern accent wasn’t that bad.

“Because,” she said, “it’s the Perdenales River. That’s how you say it.”

“Perdenales? But it’s not spelled that way.”

She looked at me sympathetically and with a touch of disgust. “Ask any Texan,” she advised, “that’s the way it’s said.” OKAY.

Then, there’s Burnet. Think of other similar words – duet, garnet, bayonet. All of these are pronounced accenting the last syllable. Not Burnet.

It’s Burnet, Learn’it, Durn’it and don’t bother asking why. If you go there and say it any other way, I bet you wouldn’t even get service at a store or restaurant. Someone would certainly correct you, that’s for sure.

Apparently, if I lived in Austin, I would continue to have trouble - especially with street names. Manchaca Road is apparently called Manshack and that is but one example.

Texans also have their own expressions. When I first heard someone was “fixin” to do something I thought it was rather a cute expression. That was when I realized my builder could use that expression and never get “round to it.”

Other expressions are uniquely Texan:

“It’s so hot, the hens are laying hard boiled eggs.”

“I’m happy as a hog in slop.”

“That man is meaner than a skillet full of rattlesnakes.”

“She’s as friendly as fire ants.”

I would guess these expressions wouldn’t mean much to someone in the Northeast or even the Midwest. But, as they say, when you’re in Texas you might as well do as the Texans do and say it like they say it.

If not, get ready to be laughed at or corrected!

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