I've been tasked by a reader familiar with the ways of Texans to try a few experiments. All involve comestibles. Two involve fast food establishments, the first of which is called Whataburger.
At Whataburger, you must have at least one thing on the menu. If it is breffiss time, you MUST HAVE A POTATO AND EGG TAQUITO. Must. If it is 'other' time, have a whataburger. No special requests, just have one.
Whataburger was only about a kilometre from the hotel, but I borrowed a vehicle, because that's how fast food is done, and drove to Whataburger. I still did it wrong, because it was only after I parked in the parking lot and went in that I realized they had a drive through. Look, they do have cars and drive throughs and everything in Canada. I've been through the Tim Horton's drive through and I know what a double-double is. It's just not my lifestyle. And I would have spent too long gawking at the menu and been hard to understand in the drive through, anyway. The instructions proved difficult to follow, as it was, as I'm on the late shift, prepared to work through to the early hours of the morning, so my breakfast is at noon, and Whataburger's breakfast menu ends at 11 a.m. I had carefully memorized the words "potato and egg taquito" but had not been prepared for it to be not available. I choked on the fallback and ended up with a chicken burger, which now that I re-read my instructions might not have been what I was supposed to do, but it was pretty good.
It came in a bag with a space on the side for me to write my name, I guess the idea is that I might reuse the bag for my kid to take his lunch to school. Better than sending your kid to school with a lunch in a liquor store bag. The chicken was crispy and the lettuce and tomato inside actually tasted like lettuce and tomato, not just garnish.
And touching on Airplanes, Breakfast and Chicken, we have this episode of SMBC. The linked cartoon is at the tamer end of the author's range, so don't click on to other examples unless your tastes range to sick adult humour.
I had a short flight in the rain that day, allowing me to return land, fuel and park in time to have supper at a civilized hour. We went out to a local place where I ordered pot roast with carrots and okra. The word okra always makes me think of okapi, but okra is a vegetable. It arrived breaded and deep fried. I keep forgetting that pretty much anything you order might be delivered that way. I should consider myself lucky the pot roast (tender and suculent and way too much to eat) and the carrots (can anyone wreck carrots?) were not breaded and deep fried. I peeled the breaded coating off the okra with a knife and fork and a little bit of fingers and the okra inside was really good. I'm not sure whether it was just the "fat makes everything taste good" principle or whether I actually like okra, but I didn't regret ordering it.
Meanwhile I'm learning not only a new accent, but a new grammar. In Deep East Texas, "you" is used only to denote second person singular. So if I'm talking to one person and they are asking me a question about myself, they say "you." But if I'm at dinner with a group, we are addressed as y'all. That's one syllable, in as much as anything a Texan says involving a vowel can have only one syllable. Rhymes with maul. That is the standard pronoun for seonf person plural. And it has a possessive form: y'all's. It was fascinating, because the word was unfamiliar it stood out. "Do y'all want y'all's salad before y'all's meals?" I don't think the waitress ever used used "you" or "your" to refer to us. And why whould she? I think in her dialect of English that was not an appropriate pronoun. It would have made as much sense to her as addresing us as "he."
I talked to one woman from Houston, she was working in an FBO a bit further north and her north Texas co-workers were challenging her to try not to say y'all. I asked her, "does it feel wrong to not say 'y'all,' and just say 'you' when talking to multiple people?" And she said yes, it did.
I guess people here are used to hearing movies and national news broadcasts and the like where the grammar isn't the same as theirs, so they don't hear my speech as wrong. Sometimes I have to say things a few times to be understood. The experience makes me feel a bit better about the quality of my French, as it shows that a person can be saying something correctly according to their initial instruction, and just not be understood because the local accent doesn't match the instructor's accent. I try to slow down a bit, and not speak 'so Canadian' but I don't want to be perceived as mocking. You can't turn off your native accent without striving to sound like something else. I don't even know if people could tell I was trying. There's a lengthening and lowering and gravelifying of the vowels that is a wonder to behold and at times seems like so much effort that I'm watching and listening to try and figure out if there is some new use they have for what to me are the easier shorter vowels. Do I sound like I'm rushing or clipping my speech?