more Newfie words

First of all, I found out you mustn’t say Newfie; it’s an insult (like calling an Icelander a “ghoulie”).

Second, I couldn’t find my little alphabet book. I checked the words on my list against the dictionary and some of them aren’t in it. It was published in 1945’; perhaps some of the words I found are newer or more colloquial? Like fooster. According to my little list, it means to cook up a meal. Couldn’t find it. And ruckshin, supposed to mean argument or disagreement - not in the dictionary. Neither is thunder mug, but we all know what that means.

On the other hand, I found a lovely word with an interesting history fully explained in the Nfld book. “Gulch”, a verb, means to frequent a sheltered hollow for sexual intimacy. The note reads as follows; "[GULCH] has come, on the Labrador coast, to have a meaning peculiar to that region and those who frequent it. In summer, men, women, and children from Newfoundland spend some weeks there at the fishing, living in a very promiscuous way. As there is no tree for shelter for hundreds of miles of islands and shores, parties resort to the hollows for secret indulgence. Hence gulching has, among them, become a synonym for living a wanton life….Sunday afternoons were good gulching days.” My little list defined it as “making out in a crevasse.” I like gulching, the verb not necessarily the activity. I have a fading memory.

Here are a few more from my little list, corroborated by the dictionary:

squish or asquish: uneven, askew

ballycattered: coated with ice

sparble: nail in a shoe (a short nail, worked out of the shoe into the foot, not pleasant, or a stud(s) on the outside of the shoe to help prevent sliding on ice)

cocksiddle: tripping, tumbling over (somersaults)

I stayed up past my bedtime, whenever that is, reading and browsing some more in this delightful book.I  could go on and on.

Anon, anon.

Fwd: Newfie words

You do know Michael Crummey, don’t you? I guess I don’t know him too well; I misspelled his name when I looked him up on Wikipedia so I could tell you his birth year (1965). I met him several years ago when I went on an Adventure Canada cruise: the circumnavigation of Newfoundland. I wanted to go to L’Anse aux Meadows, the restored site of the short-lived occupation of a remote northern part of Newfoundland by "Leif the Lucky”, the nickname given to the son of Eiric the Red. As you know, I have Icelandic forebears and I wanted to see where the Icelanders first came to North America, some 200 years before Christopher Columbus hit the West Indies. I t was a marvellous trip. I know I’ve written about it, probably in an early blog. Michael Crummey was a bonus.

He hired on as part of the care-crew: all we knew was that he could run a zodiac and take us into shore for our excursions. When we found out that he was a published, esteemed Atlantic Canada writer and poet with lots of awards and prizes, we begged him to join us in the ship's library and talk to us about his writing. I guess he was about 40 then. He looked 12, probably because someone cut his hair with a bowl. He is charming and sincere and humble and a very good writer. I bought a book later when there was a display and sale and got him to autograph it for me. (I’m a groupie.) I’ve bought and read more since, though not everything he’s written..

This is all by way of introduction to another collection of words I gathered in reading his work. He was born and bred in Newfoundland, although he did get his post-graduate degree from Queens University in Kingston. He went right back. I have the definitive Dictionary of Newfoundland English. edited by G.M. Story, W.J. Kerwin and J.D.A. Wiiddowson (University of Toronto Press, 1982). It’s a treasure, with roots and sources and early usage and quotations. I love words and I love dictionaries and I love this one. I’s fun to browse in but I first put it to use when I read Annie Proulx’s National Book Award-winning novel “The Shipping News”, set in Newfoundland. As I remember, she used knots at the beginning of each chapter, real fisherman’s/seaman’s knots, all very metaphorical. Bu I was more interested in her use of Newfoundland words and I looked them up in that dictionary. Some of them she adapted or changed the form to suit her needs, much as did Nabokov in his novel “Lolita. (I know because I made a list of them and looked them up in my OED.)

I have a children’s book, too, an alphabet book of Newfie words that I bought on that trip.   I checked it out, too, and made a list which I recently discovered.  Anyway, I found some simple, usable synonyms and that’s what I’ll pass on to you. My battery is at 4% now. Oh dear.