Photo courtesy of Bill Bradford on Flickr.
Every city seems to have it’s own unique terms that help define its culture, and Austin is no exception. Sometimes the easiest way to tell a new Austin resident from a native is the way they refer to or pronounce certain terms, like Manchaca or Town Lake. Brush up on your Austin lingo with our list below:
Koenig Lane- While you may have a tendency to pronounce this word with a long “O” sound, like “KO-nig”, this street is actually referred to as “KAY-nig” by Austin locals. This unique name originates from an old German word meaning “king”. In Austin, this street runs through Central Austin, between Burnet Road and Interstate 35.
Manchaca- One of the most mispronounced names in all of Austin is the one of the small, unincorporated town and street of Manchaca. Located in South-Southeast Austin, Austinites drop the “a” at the end and pronounce the the word as “MAN-shack”. No one is certain of the origin of Manchaca, but two schools of thought believe it comes from the name of a Tejano army officer, Jose Antonio Menchaca, or the Choctaw word “imashaka”, which means “behind it/to the rear”.
Mopac- Also known as Loop 1, this highway is one of the city’s main thoroughfares and borders the west side of downtown Austin. The name “MO-pac” comes from the abbreviation for the Missouri Pacific Railroad. The railroad running alongside the highway is still in use today.
Guadalupe- Like many Spanish words in Austin culture, the pronunciation of Guadalupe Street has been transformed. This street is most often pronounced “GUAD-a-loop”, with a silent “e” at the end. Located on the west side of the University of Texas campus, this popular street is also known as “The Drag” to students and locals alike. While no one knows exactly how this term came to be, explanations range from a former drag racing site to the long trek through campus.
Burnet- For Austin locals, the emphasis of the word Burnet is placed on the first syllable as “BURN-it”, not “bur-NET”. This popular Central Austin street used to run all the way to the city of Burnet, Texas, which is how it got it’s name.
Mueller- Like Koenig, Mueller is another name of German origin that has become acceptably mispronounced by locals. The name is pronounced “MILL-er”, after the family name of Robert Mueller. The Muller Municipal Airport in North Central Austin has since developed into the master-planned Mueller neighborhood and shopping/business center.
SoCo- This abbreviation for South Congress Avenue in South Austin is the most recent term to become established as Austin slang. Following the hip abbreviation of “SoHo” in New York City, many locals have begun referring to the trendy streets in South Austin as “SoCo”, “SoLa” (South Lamar Road), and even “SoFi” (South First Street).
Town Lake- The section of the Colorado River running between downtown and South Austin was previously known as “Town Lake”. However, the name was changed in 2007 to “Lady Bird Lake”, in honor of Lady Bird Johnson, a long-time Austin resident and former First Lady. Whether an Austin resident refers to the lake as Town Lake or Lady Bird Lake is one of the tell-tale signs of how long they have lived here.
Austinite- Austin locals are not “Austonians” or “Austiners”, but instead are called “Austinites”, as we have mentioned several times already in this blog post. Some locals may even reserve this term to refer to any individual who has called Austin home for more than five or ten years, rather than someone who just moved to the city.
Keep Austin Weird- What began as a marketing endeavor to promote small businesses in Austin quickly became a motto for the city. It’s hard to find a better phrase that defines the vibrant and creative culture preserved by Austin locals. You’ll see this phrase everywhere and on anything in Austin, from T-shirts to bumper stickers.
If these examples of Austin culture have inspired you to call the city home, we can help you find the perfect neighborhood for your family. Our agents are experts in the Austin area, and would love to answer any questions you have about the Austin market. Contact us today with your questions about buying or selling Austin homes.