Quandary: Summit County slang terms defined
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Quandary, an old and wise mountain goat, has been around Summit County for ages, and has the answers to any question about life, love and laws in the High Country. Questions? email firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m new to the county and I overheard two guys talking. One said, “Brah, I’m so stoked to go shred some gnar.” I have no idea what this means, can you help me with Summit slang?
Don’t feel bad Wallace, at least once a decade this old goat has to relearn the English language thanks to all the new terms added to Summit’s lexicon. In this particular instance the gentleman you described told his friend he is very excited to go snowboarding. I know, it doesn’t really seem to shorten the sentence, but it just sounds so much cooler.
Well, long before lifties (lift attendants) were making turns (skiing and or snowboarding using a chairlift for ascent) on fresh pow (snow), the townies (locals) in Summit were doing their best to create their own sound. Much like a group of mean girls, it’s significantly easier to build a tribe if there’s a way to exclude others. Thus why Summit is such a hotbed for slang: In an historically transient location, knowing how to talk automatically gave newbies a connection to the community.
Trappers, hunters and others who worked the land had their own code, and as the area was settled by miners, in came a new variant to the language. When a sourdough (miner from Canada) would try to find a glory hole (mineral-rich mine), he would be utterly baffled by the local lingo, possibly in an attempt to dissuade the Johnny Newcome (newcomer) from staying too long. Whether trying to pull red (gold) or blue (silver) from a tick hole (small crack in the rock), the muckmen (miners) separated themselves from the townies (still locals) in every way they could. Powder monkeys (miners who worked with dynamite), tool nippers (a young ’un working the mine) and cacklers (lazy miners) alike would be in the know, but if you’d never spent time in a Boar’s nest (mining camp that didn’t allow women) or at the very lest, underground, you would never understand their conversations.
As time moved on so did Summit, and when Prohibition hit the county, so did the next language. In order to keep the blind pigs (bars) and speakeasies (more bars) running, the production of white lightning, hooch and mountain dew (all terms for liquor) went underground, often to the same mining locations that had been previously abandoned. And when the teetotalers (people who didn’t drink) went toe-to-toe with the blotto (very drunk) whales (heavy drinkers) no one had a clue what anyone else was talking about.
By the time the ski areas set up in Summit, the Prohibition lingo was too well-known to be cool anymore, and most was pretty irrelevant anyway, so new people brought in new verbiage. Now, our winter is filled with bluebird (clear skies) powder days (6 or more inches of snow means no one goes to work), and the Frangers (people who live on the Front Range) and gapers (ridiculous looking tourists) come up to make tracks (ski or snowboard) on the groomers (freshly groomed terrain) with their grommets and little rippers (talented youngsters). Their only hope? Stay on their feet and don’t wipeout (fall) in a complete yard sale (all gear goes flying as you hit the ground).
If this is just too much to digest Wallace, start making up your own words and in a few years, I’ll be writing about your dictionary.
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