A language like no other

As I wrap up my Newfoundland posts, I thought we’d go lighter. Enjoy a different side of Newfie life.

(from a journal entry, May 6, 2017)

I was warned. It still took me completely by surprise. Newfoundland speaks English, sort of. They have their own brand. I’ve never said “Excuse me,” “Pardon me,” “Sorry,” “One more time,” or “What?” as much as I did this week. I listened to Don and Bernice for hours and there were blocks of conversation that I missed completely. I played Dutch Blitz with a table full of people from La Scie and they had to repeat the directions more than a few times … (sorry!)

It seems that spaces between words are simply inefficient and therefore duly ignored. Also, roughly half the consonants in any given word, phrase or sentence are apparently optional. Add to that the tendency to make every fourth word sound like a question and it really becomes a party. There’s not much that will slow down the conversations among Newfoundlanders as effectively as responding to a question that had never been asked…

Some things sound Irish, some sound Scottish, some sound Pirate. When people really get going, there’s a rhythm to it, a song of sorts.  I found it quite beautiful and often got lost in listening. That was when I realized I had been asked an actual question and I had no idea what it was.

For the three hundredth time, “Pardon?”

Here are a few classics, heard there and donated by friends with Newfoundland connections. I’m told you can trust these to be on the family-friendly side, there is a mischievous side to Newfoundlanders, so I plead ignorance.  Some definitions are provided, others? I have no clue. You can guess if you want, but I’d ask a Newfoundlander. (Maybe some people will fill in a few through the comments section.)

“yes b’y” – Lots of uses, lots of meaning. Anywhere from agreement to something like “Is that so?”
“Where ya longs to?” – “Where are you from?”
“d’er some good”
“Stay where yer to til I comes where yer at” – “I’ll be there soon.”
“whaddaya at?” – “What are you doing?”
“’ow’s she getting’ on?” – I think this is a variation on “How are you?”
“Yes me duckie” – Term of agreement or confirmation.
“Lard dyin’” – Exclamation.
“we’re gonna ‘av us some scoff” – “Time to eat.”
“some shocking’ good”
“I knows y’er not stun” – “You’re stupid.”
“y’er too crooked t’ look at” – “You’re too grouchy or cranky.”
“she’s right crooked”
“she’s some contrary” – Same as crooked.
“she got me drove” – “She’s driving me crazy!” or “You’re driving me crazy.” Apparently pronouns are entirely interchangeable…
“me nerves are rubbed right raw” – “I’m going crazy!” or “I’m losing it!”
“get me that chummy d’er” – I have no idea. It might be “Hand me that…”
“jumping’ dyin’”
“b’y d’ jumpin’s”
“I dies at you” – “You make me laugh.”
“some day on clothes” – “It’s a good day to hang the wash.” Also a way of expressing agreement.
“who knit ya’” – “Who are your parents?”
“r jit pitch yit or wha?” – something about sailing and/or making a decision.
“lard tunderin” – From “Lord, Thundering” – another exclamation.


Of course, none of them come close to a real conversation with a real Newfoundlander.  If you get one of those going, you’re in for a treat. Sit back, do the best you can and enjoy the ride. I spent a couple hours with Don and Bernice in their home and the conversation changed my life.

And when your conversation comes to a close and it’s time for paths to part, hopefully you’ll hear the words of a true Newfoundland blessing, “Long may your big jib draw.”

May you find your way and live a good, long life doing something you love. May we all.

Thanks, Newfoundland. I’m a better person because of you.



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