How to Sound Like a Local in Dallas

A lot of people from Dallas aren’t really from here; they just got here as fast as they could.

I know. I’m one of them. I’ve lived in the Dallas-Fort Worth region for nearly 20 years now so I consider myself a naturalized Dallasite, but I wasn’t born here. (Keep that on the down low.)

Still, I’ve been around long enough to know how to blend in with the locals. Follow these tips and you’ll blend in too:

Pronunciation is everything.

You aren’t going to sound like a local if something dorky comes out of your mouth. “I’m fixing to” when you mean to say fixin’ to will bring shame upon your head. You must drop the ‘g’ when discussing what it is you are about to do next. It’s all git-out not “all get out” to mean to a great degree. In fact, just get rid of the short ‘e’ sound. So while people in another state may pronounce pen and pin differently, there’s no difference in Dallas. (Do you need a stickpin or a writing pin?) We still like Old West references too, so get used to it. “This ain’t my first rodeo” is still said in these parts for what might be “I’ve been around the block” in another city.

Learn your highway interchange nicknames.

 

The High Five is that monstrosity in North Dallas with five flyover ramps where Interstate 635 (Lyndon B. Johnson Freeway, or LBJ, and U.S. 75 (Central Expressway,) come together.  Yes, we like multiple names for our highways just don’t ever call it “The 635” or “The 75.”

We aren’t Californians and we don’t put “The” in front of numbered highways. We disdain California and work hard to steal all its businesses. (We love you, Toyota North American Headquarters!) If you are from California, you may want to keep that quiet. Now that I’ve said all of that, it’s OK to say “The Bush” for “The George Bush Turnpike,” aka State Highway 161 on its west end and State Highway 190 on its east end.

The other really big interchange, near downtown, where I-35, I-45 and I-30 meet is called the Mixmaster. Don’t get it confused with Fort Worth’s Mixmaster. This is just a start. If you want to understand the morning and evening traffic reports, you’ll need to study up.

The good thing is that most major roads in Dallas are easy to pronounce although there are a few street names (Routh sounds like Ruth and Cadiz is “Cuh diz”) that may throw you for a loop.

City names

You’ll see these city names as you travel outside of Dallas, but you’ll need to practice up on the pronunciations. The quaint city to the south of Dallas, where “Places in the Heart” was filmed, is Waxahachie. It’s pronounced WAWK sah HATCH ee. The locals yell “Go Hachie!” at sporting events.

Another city just south of Dallas, Lancaster, is pronounced “Lang-k’s-ter.” Think of there being a little “kiss” in the middle. It’s not “LAN-caster,” which would make more sense.

All carbonated drinks are Cokes.

soda-pop

I admit this is a hard one for me. I only like to call the real thing Coke. (I love my Classic Coca-Cola.) You’ll hear “coke” said for any kind of soft drink in Dallas as in “What kind of coke do you want?” Answer: “I’ll have a Dr. Pepper.” If you say “pop” we’ll know you are a down-to-earth Midwesterner. If you want to sound local, say coke.

Still need help?

Go to the Texas Almanac pronunciation guide. Better yet, ask a local — if you can find one. 

Kerry Curry