Most Texans no longer sound like stereotypical Texans, according to language researchers at the University of Texas at Austin. The twang, they say, is fading.
"What's so striking is that 30 years ago, about 80 percent of all speakers had clear Texas accents," said Lars Hinrichs, an assistant professor of English and director of the Texas English Project.
"Nowadays, the recordings my students bring back of people who grew up in Texas hardly ever have a strong Texas accent."
The reasons are predictable - immigration, urbanization, gentrification - and the shift is most noticeable in people who live in a city, or are younger than 25. Today, people who live in Texas cities sound more like accent-neutral Midwesterners.
But Hinrichs and other researchers said they discovered something surprising when they began studying Texans' use of their native tongue.
We haven't abandoned the y'alls and drawls, we just use them when the time is right.
So, when a city-dwelling saleswoman is working in East Texas, she'll often slip into the hyper-polite "thank you kindly" mode. Or when a Texas-born man is speaking to an elderly woman, he'll default to the respectful "yes, ma'am."
"It builds rapport, it's quaint, it's friendly," said Hinrichs. "When you hear someone talking with a Texas twang, you feel like you're talking to a good person."
Think of it like a faded and oh-so-comfortable denim shirt.
You wouldn't wear it to a job interview, any more than you'd greet your prospective bosses with a hearty "howdy do."
But at a barbecue and beer joint on a lazy Saturday afternoon, an untucked denim shirt feels just right.
None of this is unique to Texas.
Language is ever-evolving, shaped by the creeping and receding tides of regional dialects.
Consider what happened to the use of the letter "r'' in New York in the 1960s.
European immigrants flooded into the city after World War II and eventually washed over the middle class. They brought with them a British sense of social hierarchy and an accent.
So, when they moved up to a new apartment, they'd say "It's on the fawth floawh (fourth floor)" - an r-less accent that persists today.
Similar trends can be heard in accents around the country.
Think Boston: "The cah (car) is in the pahking laht (parking lot)."
Or the Appalachians: "We grow taters (potatoes), maters (tomatoes) and baker (tobacco) on our farm."
Or Minnesota: "Oh yah (yeah), I went to werk (work) and bought a pop, dontchaknow (don't you know)."
Regional accents are mainly identified by word choice, phrases and pronunciation.
In Texas, colloquialisms such as polecat (for skunk) and mosquito hawk (for dragonfly) have already fallen out of favor, while others such us "might could" and "fixin' to" are in the twilight of their usage.
Bob Tallman makes his living with his booming baritone and no-nonsense Cowboy persona as an announcer for the Mesquite Championship Rodeo. To him, it is heresy to think of Texas without its twang.
"I'm a big believer that you should take pride in who you are, what you do, what you look like and what you sound like," the 65-year-old said.
"I don't care if you're Democrat or Republican or independent. Whatever you are, be a goodun."
Tallman said that means if you live in Texas, you should sound like a Texan, or learn how right quick.
"And if you don't like it," he said, "move back to California."
Researchers say Tallman's loyalty to his local language isn't unusual.
"People always use their language as a touchstone of their identity," said graduate student Kate Shaw Points, whose research focuses on Texas-born Latinos in east Austin.
"They want to say something and have part of who they are in what they're saying."
She said that's especially true for young Latino women, who may be straddling an identity that is Mexican-American and traditional Texan, all while embracing a hip form of slang common in California.
Linguists call it style shifting.
"Young women tend to drive these changes because they are said to be more attuned to prestige in language than men," Points said. "So women will hear something and think it sounds prestigious or cool, and then they'll imitate it. That's how it spreads throughout the population."
The best example of this is the Valley Girl phenomenon of the 1980s, in which young girls introduced "gnarly," ''totally" and the ever-present "like" into the American lexicon.
Points said her research reveals that young Latino women are on the leading edge of language change in the Lone Star State, in some cases folding Spanish-accented English into a Tejano drawl.
Diana Aguirre, who grew up in the West Texas town of Fort Stockton, said she finds herself modifying her Spanish more often than English.
"I was told when I came here to go to school at SMU that I had an accent when I speak Spanish," said Aguirre, a vice president of Big Brothers Big Sisters in Dallas. "But now I'm so aware of it that I catch myself changing my accent depending on what group of people I'm with."
Hinrichs, the UT linguist, said that trend - of adapting language and accents to fit your needs - is the future of how Texans will talk.
"Modernization is happening pretty rapidly," he said. "The traditional Texas dialect is going to stay around for the midterm, but probably not for the long term."
But that doesn't mean Texans will stop sounding like Texans.
Fifty years ago, if you walked down the streets of Dallas, nearly everyone you met would have spoken with a twang. Today, not so much.
Fifty years from now, Hinrichs said, Texans will still sound distinctive - different from people on the East or West Coast - and different from what we sound like today.
"Young people are leading this change," said Hinrichs. "It will be something very few people will think sounds Texan today, but in two generations it might sound just right."