Wednesday, April 11, 2012

J is for Junk


{Junks waiting to be cut at the top of my hill}

I know, I know. Very little escapes my eyes. Yeah, there is a modern definition for this word too. Most notably displayed by one David Beckham. But I digress.

I learned about junk first when Leo started taking care of my wood stove and its maintenance, cleaning and most importantly its supplies.

He first mentioned the word way back in the day when he told me “You're running low on junk, I'll get some for you.” All sorts of scenarios ran through my head. Newfoundland houses have a required quota of junk and my shortfall is a neighbourhood concern? I envisioned him coming in with old fabrics and newspapers and unworkable toasters.

But no, he came back with an armload of small logs and proceeded to show me how to lay a fire the Newfoundland way. One that invariably catches immediately and warms the whole house in no time at all. I think I manage it in about 2 minutes flat in the morning now, a skill set I never imagined acquiring even in my wildest dreams. First there's the paper, then there's the 'splits' (kindling), then there's the junks, and then there's the wood (big logs).

So junk is a small log but interestingly enough can also be qualified with 'back', 'fore' or 'middle' for one of your more humungous fireplaces. My ears perked up when Leo recently said he had cut up some “pet junks” for the wee woodstove in The Tigeen. And I thought possibly an infiltration of French had cut in to his terminology – la petite junque came to mind.

Another definition of junk is applied to the male of the Newfoundland species . Whereas back home (Ireland) we would say - “a fine broth of a boy,” here it is expressed “a terrible fine junk of a boy entirely.” Which brings us all the way back to David Beckham. Neat, eh?

Today's post brought to you by the letter J from The Dictionary of Newfoundland English in partnership with the rest of the alphabet beginning here.

12 comments:

  1. I'm enjoying your reminders of Newfoundland quirks when I manage to pop in on my travels! If you come across the word Shelandy(?spelling)I'd be interested to know - heard it on the radio once on a call-in show on the lingo -meaning dragonfly -I loved the word but haven't been able to find anything about it. Thought it would be a nice name for our boat (if we had one;)

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  2. What a great name for firewood or kindling.

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  3. I am part of Ranjan's collection of Junk. What would Newfoundlanders call me?

    I have always been fascinated by the Chinese sea going vessels being called junks. They have always been tough vessels but the cross language use gave it an inferior status in the old maritime stories about the Far East.

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  4. Hey, a new (to me) definition for one of my favorite words! Very interesting!
    Thanks for stopping by!

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  5. didn't realize the word junk could refer to so many things:)
    Nutschell
    www.thewritingnut.com
    Dropping by from the A-Z!

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  6. So the word junk covers a myriad of things and some of them very essential. I always syspected that. It's a word I use a lot but never in your definition. If I had a woodstove, I'd be happy to. xox

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  7. Linda:
    Can't find shelandy and my interwebz is so bad lately I have to rush through everything before disconnection from whatever corporate eejit determines I'd had enough for the day.
    Let me know if you're in NL late May.
    XO
    WWW

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  8. Oh Ramana I'd never burn you!
    and yes I've also seen the spelling "junque" now and again.
    XO
    WWW

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  9. Irene:
    You're welcome at my wood stove anytime my dear!
    XO
    WWW

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