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!

5 Elements of Old School Copywriting

This is David Ogilvy
This is David Ogilvy.

I just love the old school copywriters, my favorite being David Ogilvy.  Suave, interesting, successful (he lived in a European castle when he wasn’t working in NYC on Madison Avenue!).

The old school copywriters teach us about several “must have items” if you are looking to sell anything:

*  Headline – David Ogilvy called it “the ticket on the meat,” it is a must have item.  Just putting a headline on your selling literature will set you apart and grab attention.  There’s a whole lotta science and experimentation to figure out the best headlines.  At the very least, make sure that every piece of marketing and advertising that you have has a headline!

This is a picture of a face looking at you. I bet you looked at that picture. I also bet that you are reading this caption, right after looking at the picture. Ha!
This is a picture of a face looking at you. I bet you looked at that picture. I also bet that you are reading this caption, right after looking at the picture. Ha!

* Pictures – People love pictures!  We are a visually stimulated bunch.  Our eyes go the picture first.  Pictures of people’s faces tend to be irresistible to the eye.

* Captions – People also love reading captions.  It dates back to when we first started reading, those old school reading books with lots of readers and captions.  Captions are generally shorter, often just 1 sentence, and our eyes like those easy to accomplish tasks of just reading one sentence.  Make sure your pictures have informative captions.

*  Bullets – Break your information into bite-sized pieces through bullets and numbered lists.  I would have a tough time getting a guy to swallow a whole golf ball, but if I give it to him in little pieces, he just might eat it!

*  Call to Action – each piece of sales material that you have should have a Call to Action!  You and the prospect are there for a reason!  It’s your duty to give them a chance to buy from you!

Speaking of calls to action, if you want to hire someone that uses old school copywriting principles in everything we produce, go here.