Friday, March 27, 2009


A colleague of mine named Mike retired recently. Mike, as a lifelong resident of Terrell (locally known as "Turl", a town 30 miles east of downtown Dallas), is (owing to his unique elocution and frequent malapropisms) one of those unintentionally hilarious people.

But more than being a funny guy, Mike is a good guy. For years he dealt with the progressive ravages of Alzheimer's on his wife Kathy (or as Mike always called her "Kaffy"). The tongue-tied hero of this story held things together pretty well, but every once in a while he'd share some insight into what he was dealing with. "It's gotten where Kaffy just screams alla time. She cain't speak -- she makes noise, but she don't say nuffin. I'm the only one she'll quiet down for and let feed her." And the nursing home expenses were a terrible financial drain. About a year before Mike retired, Kathy finally died. Sad relief, but a relief nonetheless.

Now all that is just to put the rest of this story in context: Mike is the kind of guy you laugh with, not at. He has his quirks, but he's someone you have to respect.

So, as I was saying, Mike is one of the most unintentionally funny guys you'll ever meet. He can butcher the English language like no one else. After Kathy died, he decided he needed to buy that brand new Corvette he's always wanted. He reported after he got the car: "That Corvette has to be the stupidest car around. It come with this fancy speech recka-nition that's supposed to let you do all kindsa jiffy thangs jes by tellin the car wucha wan it t'do: change radio stations, call summon on the built-in cell phone, change the tempercher settin. But that car is so stupid; it don' unnerstan nuthin."

Unfortunately General Motors, in programming the speech recognition, didn't take into account rural Texas dialects. Mike reported, "Lack I say, that car don' unnerstan nuthin. It thinks everthang I say is, 'Turn up the radio!'" Poor Mike destroyed the eardrums of half the population of Turl before he figured out how to get the radio to turn itself back down.

So as a public service to the all the engineers at General Motors who program speech recognition devices, I offer (as a recurring feature of this blog) ... "The Turlese Word of the Day":

saskatchewan -- noun: "hairy humanoid creature reported to live in the northwestern U.S., said to be a primate between 6 and 15 feet tall, perhaps related to the indomitable snowman"; Synonyms: "Bigfoot", "Sasquatch".


Gladys said...

Oh BOB!!! Now youvedone gowon end dun eat. Im downrite homesick now.

The last time I was in Terrel they had the interstate shut down because there was a hawg holler turned over and there were hawgs all over the rha-ode.

Jerry said...


I wonda if'n dem hogs ended up in da bah-ditch?

Bob said...

"Bah-ditch"? Get real! This is northeast Texas, not Boston.

Texas accents can be funny. On my first day with the company I had a secretary ask if I needed any rat's lips. When I hesitated she explained: "When ya need ta sen' sumpin ray-ound th'office, ya attach a rat slip -- a little slip a'paper with everone's name a'ready printed on it.

"Oh, routing slips -- no, I don't think I need any of those. But if I do, I know where to find you."

But Mike's main talent is diction, not mere elocution. He finds the most interesting near matches to the word he intends to use.

Buck said...

I read you loud and clear, Bob. My first few trips to Dallas (Plano) after I hired on with EDS were adventures in misunderstandings, at least where the "locals" were concerned. I eventually developed an ability to understand the dialect but never acquired the knack of speaking it. That's something you're born with... and it's danged hard to acquire, otherwise.

The Flyer said...

Sometimes a similar phenomenon presents itself here in the South Seas. Back around Christmas, our neighbor came over and asked if we had our "orchard" yet, because he knew it was important to folks from Back Home to have one at Christmas time. I had no idea what he was talking about, so I tried to get out of it by telling him we hadn't had the chance to get one yet. He promised to come over the next day with one, because he had an extra one. The next day, he showed up with a beautiful "orchid" he had grown himself, so we could display it on the table for Christmas dinner. I realize this isn't Texas, but it's the same type of thing, perhaps...

Bou said...

I'm sorry, but that is frickin' hysterical. I could picture my granddaddy having those problems with his thick thick Alabama accent. Its not quite like the TX accent, but enough that I feel most certain that a stupid corvette wouldn't get it.

Teresa said...

OMG - I love it. ROFLMAO.