Cowboy Dialect in Print

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American Dialect

Cowboy Dialect in Print


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It is very dificult to know how people spoke in an earlier time. We have few recordings of speakers of another era. I find it interesting to look at how fiction writers choose to represent those who lived earlier. I have found it particularly interesting to see how the speech of cowboys is represented in print. I am interested particularly in the works of four writers and have studied their representation of cowboy speech: Elmer Kelton, O. Henry, Will James, and Andy Adams. I plan to place here examples of cowboy speech which I have selected and categorized from these writers along with some commentary I have provided about that speech.

Two Editors' Comments on Representing Cowboy Speech in Print

Some General Characteristics of Printed Cowboy Talk

Not Hobbling Their Lips: Andy Adams' Use of Cowboy Dialect


Home of Dick Heaberlin Writes

Orange House Books

A Cavalcade of Oilfield Novels

Fountain Wells: Oilfield Novels of Ontario, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia

Gushers: Oilfield Novels of Texas

Poetry Collections

Trotting With the Fox

My Writing Guides

English Syntax:
A Guide to the Grammar of Successful Writers

Writing Style 1

Connecting for Coherence:
A Guide to Building Sentences With Syntax And Logic

Writing Style 2

Purposeful Punctuation:
A Syntactic Guide to English Punctuation

Writing Style 3

Word Wisdom:
A Guide to Selecting Words
for Writers and Editors—Writing Style 4

Other Books of Interest

Other Sites of Interest


Dick Heaberlin's Website
at Texas State University

Center for the Study of the Southwest at Texas State University

Southwest Regional Humanities Center at Texas State University
Email Dick Heaberlin