Happy Thanksgiving Nov 26 2014

Dear TWU family,

Thanksgiving is such a special time of year…no shopping hub-bub or focus on material things; just an interlude where we can take a day to be with friends and family and be grateful for all the blessings in our lives. I like what William Jennings Bryan said; “On Thanksgiving Day we acknowledge our dependence.”

Being a linguist at heart and this being Thanksgiving, I came across a story about the Harvard Dialect Survey conducted by former Harvard professor Bert Vaux. The data “reveal patterns of migration, unexpected linguistic kinships between regions, and the remarkable variety of words we say and how we say them.” 

Becoming a part of ‘Texan culture’ this year, I took a look at the words “Thanksgiving” and “pecan.” So around your Thanksgiving table this year, ask everyone how they pronounce the fabled word describing the day we’ve come to celebrate and count our blessings.

If you say “THANKSgiving”, you are among 26% of the population. If you say “ThanksGIVing” you are among 65%. If you use both interchangeably, you are among the remaining 9%. Now to “pecan,” that famous Texas nut and pie (that packs on so many calories), 17% say it with stress on the first syllable (PEE-can). 9% say it with stress on the second syllable ("pee-CAN"). 13% pronounce it even differently with stress on the first syllable ("PEE-kahn"). 29% say it with stress on the second syllable ("pee-KAHN"). Only 2% say "pick-ANN" but a whopping 21% say "pick-AHN.” 

This is fun and informed trivia, but it makes the larger point that in the end, despite how each of us say the words, we ALL value and contribute to the meaning of the day. That is what can make TWU so special…respecting our individual differences but focusing on the collective success of our students. I value our differences and believe we learn and grow from them but the focus should be on our shared values. That is what makes TWU distinctive and respected among our peers.

At this “ThanksGIVing”, the blessings this year are many, but for me, the greatest has been the opportunity to be part of a much larger family…the TWU family. I am grateful for that and hope all of you enjoy this special day.


Carine M. Feyten, Ph.D.
Texas Woman’s University

"If you talk to a man in a language that he understands, that goes to his head. But if you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart." (Nelson Mandela)

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