Western Words

Western Words has 5,000 words of cowboy language as vibrant now as it was in the old American frontier. "Within the cowman's figures of speech lie the rich field of his subtle humor and strength-unique, original, full-flavored. With his usually limited education he squeezes the juice from language, molds it to suit his needs, and is a genius at making a verb out of anything. He 'don't have to fish 'round for no decorated language to make his meanin' clear, ' and has little patience with the man who 'spouts words that run eight to the pound.' Perhaps the strength and originality in his speech are due to the solitude, the nearness of the stars, the bigness of the country, and the far horizons-all of which give him a chance to think clearly and go into the depths of his own mind. Wide spaces 'don't breed chatterboxes.' On his long and lonely rides, he is not forced to listen to the scandal and idle gossip that dwarf a man's mind. Quite frequently he has no one to talk to but a horse..." -from the author's Introduction

Vocabulario Vaquero/Cowboy Talk

Spanish is an important source for terms and expressions that have made their way into the English of the southwestern United States. Vocabulario Vaquero/Cowboy Talk is the first book to list all Spanish-language terms pertaining to two important activities in the American West-ranching and cowboying-with special reference to American Indian terms that have come through Spanish. In addition to presenting the most accurate definitions available, this A-to-Z lexicon traces the etymology of words and critically reviews and assesses the specialized English sources for each entry. It is the only dictionary of its kind to reference Spanish sources. The scholarly treatment of this volume makes it an essential addition to the libraries of linguists and historians interested in Spanish/English contact in the American West. Western enthusiasts of all backgrounds will find accessible entries full of invaluable information. Robert N. Smead is Associate Professor of Linguistics in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at Brigham Young University. Ronald Kil is a New Mexico cowboy and artist who has worked on ranches and feedlots all over the West. Richard W. Slatta is Professor of History at North Carolina State University and the author of numerous books, including Comparing Cowboys and Frontiers.

Dictionary of the American West

Did you ever need to spell “dogie” (as in, get-along-little), or need to know what a “sakey” is? This is the book that can tell you how to spell, pronounce, and define over 5,000 terms relative to the American West. Want to know what a “breachy” cow is? Turn to page 43 to learn that it’s an adjective used to describe a cow that has a tendency to find her way through fences where she isn’t supposed to be. Describes some teenagers we know… Spend hours perusing the dictionary at random, or read straight through to give you a flavor of the West from its beginnings to contemporary days. Laced with photographs and maps, the Dictionary of the American West will make you sound like an expert on all things Western, even if you don’t know your dingus from a dinner plate. Compiled of words brought into English from Native Americans, emigrants, Mormons, Hispanics, migrant workers, loggers, and fur trappers, the dictionary opens up history and culture in an enchanting way. From “Aarigaa!” to “zopilote,” the Dictionary of the American West is a “valuable book, a treasure for any literate American’s library.” (Tony Hillerman)

Comparing Cowboys and Frontiers

Historians of the American West, perhaps inspired by NAFTA and Internet communication, are expanding their intellectual horizons across borders north and south. This collection of essays functions as a how-to guide to comparative frontier research in the Americas. Frontiers specialist Richard W. Slatta presents topics, techniques, and methods that will intrigue social science professionals and western history buffs alike as he explores the frontiers of North and South America from Spanish colonial days into the twentieth century. The always popular cowboy is joined by the fascinating gaucho, llanero, vaquero, and charro as Slatta compares their work techniques, roundups, songs, tack, lingo, equestrian culture, and vices. We visit saloons and pulperias as well as plains and pampas, and Slatta expertly compares clothing, weather, terrain, diets, alcoholic beverages, card games, and military tactics. From primary records we learn how Europeans, Native Americans, and African Americans became the ranch hands, cowmen, and buckaroos of the Americas, and why their dependence on the ranch cattle industry kept them bachelors and landless peons.

Writing Westerns

Craft a novel that evokes the spirit of the West Western Movies don't appear as frequently today as they did in the 1960s, but those that make the cut in Hollywood prompt frequent Oscar buzz. Nor have Western novels been eclipsed. In 2010, Amazon.com offered 213 new Western novels for sale, plus many reprints of older classics. Writing Westerns examines what a Western is, while teaching you how to research and write one. You'll benefit from the author’s experience—248 books published since 1977—and the example of masters in the field, from Zane Grey and Max Brand to Louis L’Amour and Cormac McCarthy. Each chapter includes a short list of recommended sources for further reading. Appendices to the main text include a glossary of Old West slang and jargon, which is helpful in writing realistic dialogue, a timeline of significant historical events, and a list of classic Western films and novels. Research, talent, and imagination are the keys to writing a successful novel. Join us now, as we set off into the West.

Western Gunslingers in Fact and on Film

Billy the Kid, Wild Bill Hickok, Belle Starr, Wyatt Earp, the Younger Gang, the Dalton-Doolin Gang and Bat Masterson—these real-life lawmen and lawbreakers have been the basis of so many Hollywood Westerns that it has become difficult to discover where the truth ends and the legend begins. All actually became larger-than-life characters during their lifetimes, as contemporary newspapers and books embellished their deeds for their own purposes. But it was in Hollywood that the line between reality and myth was completely blurred. Each chapter-length entry here first focuses on the known facts of the people’s lives and how each became truly legendary during their lifetimes. The reality is then compared to how they have been portrayed in the movies.

The Cowboy

What are the connections between cattle branding and Christian salvation, between livestock castration and square dancing, between cattle rustling and the making of spurs and horsehair bridles in prison, between children's coloring books and cowboy poetry as it is practiced today? The Cowboy uses literary, historical, folkloric, and pop and cultural sources to document ways in which cowboys address religion, gender, economics, and literature. Arguing that cowboys are defined by the work they do, Allmendinger sets out in each chapter to investigate one form of labor (such as branding, castration, or rustling) in the cowboy's "work culture." He looks at early oral poems recited around campfires, on trail drives, at roundups, and at home in ranch bunkhouses, and at later poems, histories, and autobiographies written by cowboys about their work - most of which have never before received scholarly attention. Allmendinger shows how these texts address larger concerns than the work at hand - including art, morality, spirituality, and male sexuality. In addition to spotlighting little-known texts, art, and archival sources, The Cowboy examines the works of Mark Twain, John Steinbeck, Willa Cather, Louis L'Amour, Larry McMurtry, and others. Unique among studies of the American cowboy, Allmendinger's study looks at what cowboys thought of themselves, and the ways in which they represented those thoughts in their own prose, poetry, and artifacts. Richly illustrated with photographs of cowboys at work and at play, many previously unpublished, The Cowboy will interest scholars of American literature and history, and American Studies, as well as those interested in Western history and culture, folklore, and gender studies.