My interest in learning more about the different types of accents was sparked when I attended a camp in Louisiana. In a group conversation, I said something about night, but everyone swore I pronounced it like "naht." I heard comments about my apparent accent for the remainder of the week and even received a few notes from others in the group that said they enjoyed listening to me talk. However, when I came back home and talked to my friends about it, they all said they never really noticed me having an accent. I became more interested because it's something people from other states notice more than people who are from Texas.
The origins of the Texan accent date back to the early 1800s when a large number of settlers from the Ozark and Appalachian Mountains moved to Texas. These settlers, as well as those from Mexico, other European countries, and other states all contributed to the unique accent heard in the region. In addition, many people even divide the state and refer to a West Texas or East Texas type of sound.
The dialect used by Texans is one of the most stereotypical qualities of Texas residents. "Howdy," "y'all," and "fixin' to" are some of the most recognizable words. The majority of people in the South use these words, but people usually associate them with Texas. Apparently even referring to a pond as "a tank" is something Texans frequently do.
Throughout the state, accents are more common in smaller rural towns than in large cities like Dallas or Houston. Personally, I'm from a town with only 350 residents, where seemingly everyone has that Texas drawl. Travel to Fort Worth or even a smaller city like Waco and a thick accent is less noticeable among younger people, but still relatively frequent among older adults. An article from the University of Texas discusses some of the reasons why strong accents are sometimes less noticeable. Basically, it depends on who the person is talking to and where they are. People in important business meetings or interviews tend to speak with less of an accent to help themselves sound more professional. However, in a laid-back setting like a barbecue, people seem to convey stronger accents as they try to welcome people. The article states that based on their findings, the Texan dialect is becoming more of a choice rather than a function of place.
Most people outside of Texas are intrigued by Texans with a thick accent. I have learned this first hand from ordering red beans and "r-ah-ce" at restaurants in Louisiana. Nearly every time I get a joke as a response from the waitress or waiter. Experiences like this got me interested in researching how the accent even came to the area. The great variety of settlers to the area and rich history all contributed to the slow drawl that Texans speak today. Basically, it's just another reason that Texans are the most pride-filled people in the United States. Don't even get me started on Whataburger or Dr. Pepper, that's for another "t-ah-me, y'all."