Newfoundland 101: Speak Like A Local

BY North America | Canada

 A truly unique corner of the earth, the island of Newfoundland, otherwise known as “The Rock,” part of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, is a fascinating, welcoming and otherworldly place.

When you visit, there’s one important thing to note: when you are in Newfoundland, it’s pronounced “newfenLAND”—not “New-found-land.” Yiss b’y, I calls her right there and then (which is to say, “Yes my friend, that’s her name”).

As I’ve just alluded to, when you visit, your ears will notice the difference. Believe it or not, there are more varieties of English spoken in Newfoundland and Labrador than anywhere else in the world! (There’s even an official Dictionary of Newfoundland English.) Here’s a brief guide on how to speak like a local (or decipher what people are saying to you).

See for Yourself

The draw for travellers has traditionally always been the wide expanses of raw nature, but on our Newfoundland Walking trip, see firsthand why the island is rapidly garnering a reputation for a keen arts scene and a meaningful approach to preserving a traditional way of life.

DETAILED ITINERARY

Newfoundlanders & CFAs

There are three important facts to remember about Newfoundlanders: they love rum and wit; their self-deprecation translates into some interesting geographical names such as Ha Ha Bay, Come by Chance, Witless Bay and Cape Blow Me Down; and they hate being called “Newfies.”

To the “Newfs” or Newfoundlanders, we visitors are “mainlanders” or “CFAs,” which stands for “come from away.” Don’t be surprised or offended if they call you “love” or “darling,” or follow this up with a wink. They’re not hitting on you (okay, maybe they are!), but the affection implied is real. They’ll tell you a thousand long tales, and some may take a secret and not quite proper delight in making you look slightly foolish, but they’ll keep an eye on you and make sure you’re always safe, well-fed and having a great time.

Speak Like A Local

This brief list may help you decipher a few terms that sound foreign to us CFAs. Feel free to sprinkle them into your speech while on the island.

Ballyca’ters: ice that rests on the shore
Bide: to remain or stay put
Clever-looking: big and good looking
Fish and brewis: codfish cooked with hard tack or sea biscuits
Grapple: a light metal anchor to moor small boats
Haul-off: a rope that is passed through an underwater collar to permit a boat to be hauled off, tied at the mooring, and hauled in again
Killick/killock: a small boat anchor made of a wooden frame enclosing rocks
Lassy: molasses
Puncheons: a large barrel in which lassy was imported. The lassy sugar collected on the bottom of the barrel was an unusual and delightful treat.
Scrunchions: fat pork fried with fish and brewis
Slewed: to bend, twist or turn
Swatches: an area of open water or thin ice
Swile: seal
Twillick: a young and undersized child

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