Some handy language hints when dealing with natives of the Lone Star State:
fixin' ta: I shall, in the fullness of time commence the indicated activity. ex: I'm fixin' ta' go to the store.
catty whompus: Not aligned correctly or otherwise out of place
walkin' in tall cotton: In a happy situation
fit to be tied: Very greaty annoyed.
all hat and no cattle: Indicating that the individual so described has a tendency to exagerrate.
fur piece: A significantly long distance away.
coke: term used to describe all carbonated beverages
toad choker: A heavy downpour of rain
lit out: To remove from the vicintiy in considerable haste. ex: When he pulled the gun I lit out of there.
damnyankee: Although this is usally considered two words, in Texas it is always taken as one.
pole-axed: knocked down with significant force
tank: an artifical pond for livestock to drink from
tarred: exhausted ex. Boy, am ah tarred.
might could: It is likely that I will do the described action. ex. I might could meet y'all for drinks.
die: day ex. Its been rainin' all die.
tin, twinty, thuhty, fawty: ten, twenty, thirty, forty
all: Petroleum ex. I gots me an all well on my ranch.
Okay, just so you know where this knowledge is coming from, a little bit about me:
I was born in Dallas, lived there until I was 4, then moved to Kansas, moved back home to Texas when I was 10. From 10-16 I lived in small-town East Texas, just north of Dallas (near Sherman/Denison). When I was 16 I lived in Topeka, Kansas, then at 17-19 moved back to North Dallas. 19-22 lived in Topeka, Ks again, then at the start of 2008 I was living in Kansas City until April, then April - July lived in Chicago. Now I'm back in small-town East Texas, between Dallas and Tyler (one county north of where Rillifane lives). Have always had family living here and in Dallas.
I think having lived in other places for large portions of my life makes me fairly well suited to differentiate between just regular sayings you hear everywhere, to uniquely Texan sayings and slang.
Travelers need to understand there is a difference between East, West, and to a lesser extent, Southern Texas. It's a big state, and so if you just read someone making blanket statements about Texas or Texans, um... well, just read on and I'll try to explain.
East Texas is considered the DFW area, from Forth Worth to Louisiana, and is very green with rolling hills, forests, and rivers.
West Texas is considered to be just west of Forth Worth west to Lubbock/El Paso. As you progress west it becomes much more desert like, getting sparser grass, cactus, and tumbleweeds. I don't know much more about West Texas than that, however, my grandmother was raised in the western part of this great state, and so I'm asking her for input about western Texas.
Southern Texas would be coastal, or cities near the gulf. Corpus, Galveston, Houston, etc. San Antonio (Texans call it San Antone) also would be considered more of a "Southern Texas" city.
Central Texas (Austin area) would be kind of an overlapping between East and Southern Texas styles, traditions, and accents.
You should be aware that people from Dallas are not fond of people from Houston, and vice-versa. It stems from the Cowboys vs Oilers football teams, but is also more ingrained than that. Dallas is very different than Houston, and better =) (I'm from Dallas, like I said.) But if we meet each other out of the state, we're best friends, kinda weird, but true, happened to me multiple times. Texans will stick together outside of the state because we just... get what it is to be 'Texan'.
Also keep in mind that as you approach Mexico and the Rio Grande there will be a much more defined Mexican influence.
Rillifane's "Tawkin Texan" thing is more of an East-Texas country slang, than a Dallas or urban guide. I'll give more accurate descriptions of his and add a few you'll hear.
Fixin Ta (or Fixinda) = Fixing to.
Catty Whompus: I've personally never heard this, ever. My grandmother says it's west-Texas slang for "catty corner" or sometimes used to mean "opposed" when talking about people who don't like each other or have differing opinions.
Walkin in Tall Cotton: I've probably heard that, it makes sense and wouldn't be out of place.
Fur Piece... that's not really how it sounds but I wouldn't know how to spell it phonetically. It's "Fair Peice", with a Texas accent, which means "Good Size" or used to mean "Fair Deal" or "Fair Offer".
Coke: Yup, dead-on. If someone asks if you want a coke they mean whatever carbonated beverage they have. If you want to refer to Coca-Cola you need to say "Coca-Cola". If you ask someone if they have a coke, they may reply "Sure, what do you want?" "Um... a Coca-Cola" "Oh, I don't have any, I have Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, Sprite..."
Toad Choker - Not very common. Grandma has heard of it, but never heard it used in a sentence.
Lit Out: You'll hear that. Usually when someone's telling a story. "I lit outta there quicker'n lightnin" The more colorful the person they might use something very descriptive for "lightning".
"Them's Fightin Words" - Uh, kinda self-explanatory. Someone says something and a Texan may reply with "Them's Fightin Words"... if they're smiling it's cuz they're friends with whoever, but if they're not smiling, take off their hat, or stand up, they mean it, and you should get a safe distance away.
Damn Yankee: If you're from out of state, and someone's calling you a damn yankee, or yankee, see if they're smiling. If they're smiling it means they like you and you're not bad, for a damned yankee. If someone were to call me, or another Texan a yankee, them's fightin words. I've personally gotten into fights at school when someone called me a yankee. It's a pretty bad insult here. (Northern folk are always pickin on how we talk and making us out like we're dumb in Hollywood. We're not. It makes us angry. Keep in mind we have 25% of the top 20 most populated cities in the United States here in Texas. Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Austin, and Fort Worth)
There's a Texas joke that goes: "What's the difference between a Yankee and a Damned Yankee? A Yankee comes down here and leaves. A Damned Yankee comes down here and stays." Damned Yankees are people we are fond of, but aren't actually Texans.
Pole Axed - never heard it. Grandma has, but she says mostly in Romance novels written by people who aren't from Texas.
Tank - Pond. All ponds = tanks. You don't need to have cattle for it to be called a tank. It's very common, but you don't hear it in Dallas cuz there aren't really any in Dallas to refer to =)
Tarred - It's more "Taihred"
How he spells the way we pronounce day, counting, and oil is retarded. If you hear someone say any of those things and you don't understand what they mean then um... you aren't that bright.
Ya'll - It's a contraction of the words 'you' and 'all'. You will also hear people say "You-all"
"How ya'll doin?" Direct translation = "How are all of you doing?"
You can say it to a married man or woman and mean them and their family: "How ya'll doin?" = "How're you and your family?" or it's usually "How ya'll doin over there?" Meaning "How is everyone at your house?"
Generally speaking, ya'll is a collective of some sort. You don't say ya'll to a single person unless you are somehow including someone else in the "ya'll". I wouldn't walk up to someone and say "How ya'll doin?" I'd say "How ya doin?", unless there were multiple people there that I was talking to.
It is also common to hear "All ya'll" but it *is* redundant, no matter what Jim35 says. I'd only use it to make sure that *everyone* in ear-shot knows that I'm talking to them, and I would like to know from each person how they personally are doing.
Some sayings that you may hear in Texas:
"Hold your horses." or "Hold your cabios." (Cabios = horses in spanish) A phrase I've heard from my family all my life. Meaning "Hold on." or "Keep your shirt on."
"Doesn't that just starch your drawers?" Drawers = underwear. The saying means "Doesn't that irritate you?" (Imagine if your underwear was starched, that'd be pretty damned irritating, wouldn't it?)
"Useless as *** on a boar hog." *** are pretty useless on a male pig, aren't they?
Men here are not called "bubba"...
A little kid will call their older/oldest brother "Bubba". That's it really, unless someone's nickname is Bubba, which can happen too, but it's a nickname, not a general term for men. Usually comes about when the young child can't pronounce the older brother's name. "Sissy" is used for older sisters sometimes, but Bubba is more common. My older brother's name is "Christopher" and when I was little I couldn't pronounce that so I called him Bubba for a while.
"The War of Northern Aggression" or "The Second American Revolution" is the Civil War.
Cabana_Boy... "The Tex-ass drawl...it is brutal, but please bare with them because they do not know any better way of speaking the English language." It's because of people like you that being called a yankee is insulting.
My grandma said when reading your comment: "Whoever wrote that should be strung up. It's evident that he don't know nothing about Texas." Literal translation: "Whoever wrote that should be hanged. It's obvious that he's ignorant and should die." Meaning: "Shut the **** up you ignorant peice of ****." And uh, when people say stuff like that in Texas, they mean it. (We are well-known for putting people to death here. There's a reason.)
That's just an example of how people from the North think of, and depict, people from the South, and a Southerner's response.
People here are extremely friendly, patient, and helpful (but keep in mind that there are jerks everywhere), until you give them a reason not to be, then they'd just as soon shoot you and kick you in a ditch as look at you, and the only thing saving you is the law, and our death-penalty statutes (that other states are so fond of picking on us for). So feel free to visit, but if you plan on moving here it may take some effort to switch mind-sets.
Another thing you should keep in mind is most (if not all) Texans are extremely proud of their state, heritage, and the idiosyncracies that come with being a Texan. If you speak ill of our state, or of someone because of their Texan pride, you have made an enemy for life.
My pure-Texan family agrees with this statement.
Use proper Texas grammar Most people think that the Texas word Y'all is plural (short for 'you all') and use it that way. This is incorrect. The correct way to indicate a group of people you are speaking to is with the phrase All Y'all, which may seem redundant but is, in fact, quite proper usage.
Regarding Jim35's usage of the word "y'all"...
Being a native Texan myself, I have much experience in the use of the word "y'all". "All y'all" is used when you are addressing an entire group of people at the same time. "Y'all" is used when you are only addressing one person with regard to their respective group.
Hope that clears things up for all y'all... :)