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Some folks chomp, some folks champ

Buck answers grammar questions
BY GENE OWENS Modified: December 13, 2012 at 11:48 pm •  Published: December 14, 2012

James Clark of Ardmore read in the Longhorn Daily Moo down in Texas that Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett found former Oklahoma Sooners halfback Demarco Murray “champing at the bit to play” for the Cowboys.

“I grew up hearing ‘chomping at the bit,'” said James, as Bubba checked the air pressure in his tires. “Guess Coach Garrett and I came from different necks of the woods. Speaking of that, how did ‘neck of the woods' get started? Sounds stupid to this Okie.”

Well, there aren't as many woods in Oklahoma as there are in less fortunate states, Jim, and Buck figures Oklahomans do more chomping than they do champing.

“Champ” is the original word for chewing or biting on something, but vowel sounds don't stay put down the ages, and “chomp” took its place beside “champ” after a couple of centuries of masticating.

When a horse wants to get moving and somebody is pulling back on the reins, it tends to chomp impatiently on the bit. More fastidious speakers may want to go back to the original “champ,” but Buck wouldn't give a plug mule for the difference.

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