Monday, August 17, 2020

Colorful Language and Characters by Paty Jager


Years ago, when I started writing historical western romance, I came across a book that I found interesting. It is titled: Cowboy Lingo by Ramon F. Adams. It was the sub-title that caught my attention. "A Dictionary of the slack-jaw words and whangdoodle ways of the American west."

I thought, this is a book I need. And sure enough, not only have I used it to reference information from ranching, nicknames and figure of speech, it has given me hours of entertainment. 

In the book it discusses how many a cowboy didn't use the usual one or two word words that are prominent today. They would put a whole string of words together to not only show their dismay or anger but to ridicule the person or critter who offended them.  "You flea-bitten sack of bones get your tail back over the fence." "If a house cat and a Jack rabbit were dumb enough to mate, you'd be the outcome."

I tend to use this philosophy with secondary characters who are older. Rather than have them spout curse words they have colorful expressions. These are mainly in my contemporary western romance and my mystery books. I find that by giving them these unusual phrases, it makes the reader remember them better than if they'd shouted a cuss word.  Mumbling "Corn mush and mosquito guts" catches the attention of the reader's attention better. 

Cowboy Lingo has also helped me with words that are still used in ranching and it has a section on brands and earmarks. If a book is set in cattle country, that's always a good thing to know.   

The chapters on cattle, riding equipment, horses and cattle also have helped me to make my characters knowledgeable and sound as if they do work on or own a ranch.

While this book was first published in 1936 it is still a very useful tool today. Especially for the writer of contemporary or historical western fiction.

You'll find a few uses of words I found in this book in my ebook box set or print anthology of the first three books in my Tumbling Creek Ranch series.  Yes, you read that correctly. You can purchase the first three books in one book in print if you prefer that over an ebook. If you would like a signed copy contact me through my website.

Love at Tumbling Creek Ranch

Three steamy contemporary western novellas set around a Dude Ranch in Montana.

8 Seconds to Love

The bull rider brought into Jared McIntyre’s ER is the girl he couldn’t get out of his head the last fifteen years. During his tour in Iraq, he lost another thrill-seeking woman, and he isn’t about to let this one destroy her life.

Love Me Anyway

Melanie Trask ran away from an abusive husband and found a job at a dude ranch with a wonderful caring cowboy, Brett Wallis. When they can no longer deny their feelings, Brett offers to help her divorce her husband. But she has one more secret she hasn’t revealed…

The Wrong Cowboy to Love

Ruby Cutter allows her cousin, the bride, to give her a makeover for the upcoming wedding because she wants to catch the attention of her high school crush. But while she’s infatuated with one man, she may be falling for another…

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Paty Jager is an award-winning author of 46 novels, 8 novellas, and numerous anthologies of murder mystery and western romance. All her work has Western or Native American elements in them along with hints of humor and engaging characters. Paty and her husband raise alfalfa hay in rural eastern Oregon. Riding horses and battling rattlesnakes, she not only writes the western lifestyle, she lives it.

1 comment:

Heather Haven said...

What an interesting book! I have two books on colorful languages used by southerners and Yiddish. They are fascinating and often hilarious.