Creative Slang in my Town

Butte, Montana - home of great miner slang still in use today!
Butte, Montana – home of great miner slang still in use today!

The town of Butte, Montana has an amazing history of mining, and the colorful past made a lasting influence here.

The copper that was pulled out of the mountains helped to electrify the country, and improve the world.  But there was a dark side to progress — in the late 1800s and early 1900s, many miners died and were badly injured just doing their every day job.  

Many of the immigrant miners were from Ireland, and the city of Butte was legendary in Ireland.  There was even a song in Ireland about Butte back then, with a verse saying “Butte was paved with Irish bones”!

As people do, whether a mile below ground in a hard rock mine, or in the battle field trench, they often resort to “gallows humor” to help deal with the situation.

Slang is one way they did that here, and some of the phrases and words are still with us:

Tap 'er light, when used today, means "take it easy!"
Tap ‘er light, when used today, means “take it easy!”

* Tap ‘er light

When drilling a hole in a mine, and then packing the dynamite into the hole, the miners told the guy doing the tapping “tap ‘er light,” which means “hey, take it easy!”  

One wrong move – or a tap too hard! – and the entire mountain could come down on their heads.

Now, when you hear the phrase “tap ‘er light” in these parts, it means “take it easy,” but whenever I hear it, I think of those miners and imagine the moment in the mine when he first started his tapping!    

* Duggan

Big rocks and rubble in these parts are called “Duggans”  (pronounced ‘doo-gins’), as that was the name of the undertaker, Larry Duggan!  

As in, “hey that rock is so big, it’s a Duggan – if she falls on your head, it’s over!”

* You’se

This is kind of a weird contraction, like a plural ‘you’, combining “you” and “all,” except “y’all” was already taken by the southerners!

You’se is pronounced ‘yoose’.  Many natives of Butte, when they are trying to address a group of people, instead of saying “you guys,” they will say “you’se”!

And almost every time one hears “you’se,” it’s in a farewell.  Such as, “see you’se later!”

For commercial writing that won’t be a “Duggan” to your business, go here.

Tap ‘er light!

Monkey Fist Marketing and Sales

The same tactics used to moor a heavy ship to pier can be used in marketing and sales writing.
The same tactics used to moor a heavy ship to pier can be used in marketing and sales writing.

When a ship is preparing to dock at the pier, or alongside another vessel, the lines needed to secure the ship are thick and heavy.

These lines need to hold the ship that weighs thousands of tons securely to the pier, under heavy winds and waves.  Even the biggest, toughest sailor would have a hard time throwing these heavy lines!

So, when the ship approaches the pier, the crew on the pier use a great tactic to get these heavy lines to the ship so they can secure it.

This is a monkey fist, a knot in the shape of a ball, that is used to first make contact between a ship and the pier crew.
This is a monkey fist, a knot in the shape of a ball, that is used to first make contact between a ship and the pier crew.

They use a “monkey fist,” which is a ball (actually it’s a knot that resembles a ball) that has a lightweight rope tied to it.  

In turn, that lightweight rope is tied to the heavy mooring line.  The pier crew then throw these monkey fists to the ship, and the line handling crew on the incoming ship catch the monkey fists, and then start pulling the lightweight ropes.  

Because the lightweight ropes are tied to the heavy lines, the crews pull and pull, and eventually get the heavy lines up on deck and around the cleats.  The ship is quickly and safely moored to the pier, in a 2 step process.

That’s what “monkey fist marketing” is – a 2 step marketing plan that makes initial contact first using a marketing “monkey fist,” such as a white paper, or case study, or free ebook.  Then, if the prospect’s information is captured, you can start delivering the “heavy lines” of marketing.

The “heavy lines” of your marketing might be a follow up phone call, direct mail letter, newsletter, or an email series.

This way, you avoid heavy lifting (for you and the prospect) when being introduced to each other!

If you need the services of an excellent commercial writer to help you build your “monkey fists” or even your “heavy lines” of marketing and sales, go here.