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.