Sunday, September 4, 2011


I've probably put a few instances in my scribblings that may have required or been susceptible to relating an occurrence with words similar to this, but I don't think I would use them in a western, as I think it is too fancy and high-minded. What I'm talking about is James Fenimore Cooper putting these words in the mouth of his Doctor Battius pondering his recognition of the beekeeper in his book, The Prairie, which appears on page 105 of the Signet Classic paper back:

     "The principal characteristics of your countenance, friend," he said, "are familiar; either you or some other specimen of your class is known to me."

Of course, it fits right in with the language used by the doctor, so it isn't out of place here, but I think it would be a prelude to an altercation of sorts, if someone had said that to one of my cowboy characters.

     "Why you horn-tailed ole devil callin' me a spess'mun of sum'thin er other will git ye a ribcage full of .45 cairtrijes if'n ya think ya know me er not. I'll be damned if'n I ain't no friend a yer'n!" the so-called stranger said, pulling his long-barreled pistol and aiming it at the little man in a black suit and neck-squeezing string tie who was taking a bite of dripping buffalo hump.

Anyway, that's why I enjoy reading old books like The Prairie and Wolfville that are written and published with the reflection of the language in use that the author deemed fit for the circumstances, as compared to today, when publishers require that there be no dialects or slangish use. It's just too hard for the readers to plow through! No, I think it is the printers, editors, and publishers who don't want to put in the extra effort thinking it won't sell. And it may not, but I'm just a cantankerous old conservative who likes things the way they are or were.




  1. WOLFVILLE is pure pleasure. Wish more people knew about it.

  2. It's a good example of what I'm talking about, too.

  3. I reckon compromise is best. Too much dialect ain't easy on the eye and makes a work hard to digest. But a little adds a flavor that might otherwise be lost.