Cowboy Slang for ESL Students

Vancouver English Centre

Cowboys in the United States and Canada have developed and popularized many words.  Some  cowboy words are now commonly used in mainstream society.  For example, a brand is a mark that is burned into the skin of a cow or horse to identify the owner.  Now, people often refer to a type of product as a brand.  Business people now use the word brand as a verb to describe the development of a positive and recognizable image of a product or service. 
Example: Our TV advertisements are
branding our new  soap products very well.


The History of Cowboy Slang

Early American cowboys learned a lot about their new surroundings from Mexican people who lived in the area.  The Americans also borrowed many Spanish words from the Mexicans, especially terms that applied to ranching.  The Spanish word
vamos means "leave".  Cowboys revised the spelling and pronunciation to vamoose, but did not change the meaning.  Vamoose is now a commonly used American slang word.  American cowboys adopted many other Spanish words such as lassorodeo and amigo that are now widely used in Canada and the US.

Cowboys tend to speak very informally.  They use many contractions and they frequently disregard grammar rules.  Double negatives are very common.  This
lingo (cowboy term for "language") can easily be identified in the type of music called "Country and Western".  The casual style of speaking can be enjoyable, and is sometimes mimicked for fun by other people.   

This charming style is used in a very appropriate manner in A Cowboy's Guide To Life.  The guide illustrates some very practical facts that apply to everyone.  Cowboy lingo is used artfully to highlight the fundamental simplicity of these basic rules of life.

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