The Cowboy Language of the Western Genre

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When people hear the phrase “Howdy, Partner!” they often will associate that phrase with the sublime Western genre. Along with similar settings and themes in all writings of the Western genre, there is also a similar language that stories share. Common themes of the stories include remote western American towns with the cattle culture, plots with a simple hero versus villain conflict, or a protagonist’s encounters with different cultures like the Indians or Mormons. These heroes often will have to “rid the community of savage forces (generally Indians or outlaws) to make way for the ineluctable coming of civilization” (Levinson). Evident in the Western genre, certain vocabulary, figures of speech, and use of dialogue reveal a unique aspect of American Literature. Vocabulary in the Western genre generally because it gives the writing background and a unique identity. The vocabulary in this genre consists of slang that exemplifies the Western genre in an American context. The authors of this genre use iconic terminology, like “Howdy”, “Giddy up” or “Yeehaw”, in their stories to give the readers a sense of direction to understand an unfamiliar aspect of American Literature. This colloquial language is the quintessence of how the Western genre gives America an identity. During the time in which these stories were being written, European countries had thought of America as a young, undeveloped country that just finished facing “old problems” like slavery. In early American literature, the Romantics attempted to give America a Literary identity, but did so by writing stories involving old legends and folklore with impeccable characters. The Western genre provides history with an important contribution to American Literature; it created... ... middle of paper ... ...e enhancement of a reader’s comprehension to the context of a story. Knowing the context of the story, an audience can understand some of the historical references that an author may make. The Western genre is overall important to American Literature because “The West defines how Americans view their past, and this region, more than any other, is the source of the American identity, pride, and cherished heroes” (Blake). The context also shows the relationship between the Western genres to the rest of American Literature. The iconic settings, themes, and language used by the authors, make the Western genre one of the most significant elements of American Literature. Works Cited Blake, Kevin S. "Zane Grey's West Society -." Zane Grey's West Society -. N.p., 2 Apr. 1995. Web. 14 Jan. 2014. Levinson, Julie. "Genre Gender." Genre Gender. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Jan. 2014.
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