Taking On The Texas Twang

It's among the great symbols of the great state of Texas.

It is the often imitated, frequently exaggerated and not always appreciated, Texas twang. CBS News Correspondent Richard Schlesinger reports.

Texas has been terrific to Steve Player. Born there, educated there, he has a big job with a big company and one small problem: his accent.

Player thinks some clients may not take him as seriously as they would if he could control his accent. He worries about sounding more blue denim than white collar.

"I don't want the guy on the other side to say, 'How'd this guy ever get to that level,'" Player explains.

So Player is going for therapy, taking his troubles to speech therapist Elizabeth Wallace. He's hoping she can change his delivery.

"I would like to be able to deliver like a Midwestern newscaster," he says.

In speech therapy the trick is getting Texans to shorten their "I"s and pronounce "i-n-g"s, among other things.

Albert Taylor echoes what a lot of people say in the small town of Cut and Shoot, Texas. He says he really doesn't have a choice about the way he sounds.

There are people in Boston trying to fix their accents, and folks in New York doing the same. But for a lot of people in places like Cut and Shoot, there's no such thing as a Texas accent. There's just one way to talk.

When Bill Purcell was asked if he thinks other people like the way he sounds, he said, "I really don't give a damn."

Jim Hightower, former Texas Agriculture Commissioner, is now a radio host, author and speech giver. Most of the time he talks for a living and is as comfortable in Boston as he is in Austin.

"I think you've got to make a decision as to what you want in life. Is it really worth it to try and surrender your accent? And I think it's sad if the answer is ever yes," says Hightower.

Far from surrendering anything, Player is developing a new weapon, the ability to talk to people in their own dialect, picking up accents just by hearing them. But he has a ways to go.

It's a little like learning a new language.

But a Texan's words spoken like a Bostonian or anyone else lose something in the translation.

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  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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