Monday, April 30, 2012

Z is for Zad

This little word sits all by its lonesome in the tail end of the Dictionary of Newfoundland English. On its very own page. You wouldn't care to guess what it meant, would you?

I'll give you a minute.



zad* n EDD ~ sb s w cties. The letter Z (see INTRODUCTION: The Dictionary and English Language Variation in Newfoundland).

Sounds fractionally better than zed or zee, do you think?


This is the final post in the A-Z Challenge for the month of April. I am pleased, amazed and proud I actually came to the finish line with most of my braincells and nerves intact. I think.

Thank you all - my faithful followers and the visitors.

You've been, well, downright athwart to keep up with me.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Y is for Yes-Ma'am

I just love this one, don't you?

I've heard this expression used here by the driver of a car going over a bump or hitting a pothole, usually in chorus with the passengers.

I leave the connotation up to your imaginations.

yes-ma'am n Cp DAE thank-you-ma'am (1849-). Dip, bump or rut in a road; rut in snow, esp on a 'woods path.'
P 8-55 There was about twenty yes-ma'ams [in the snow] in the road. P 61-67 Yes-ma'ams [are] very quick dips in a road. C 75-146 ~ Gulch or hole in the snow. P 40-78 ~ A place where the snow has been worn out in a woods road in winter, causing problems for horsesleds travelling over it because the road dips too quickly in such places.

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

Friday, April 27, 2012

X is for Xenia

X is the only letter not covered in the Dictionary of Newfoundland English so I am being creative.

Xenia (Greek: ξενία, xenía) is the Greek word for "foreign" or "strange"/"stranger", or of foreign origin. The concept of hospitality, or generosity and courtesy shown to those who are far from home is "philoxenia". The word "philos" meaning "friend" and the word "xenia" meaning "stranger", thus "friend of the stranger". It is often translated as "guest-friendship" (or "ritualized friendship") because the rituals of hospitality created and expressed a reciprocal relationship between guest and host.
The Greek god Zeus sometimes referred to as Zeus Xenios, meaning he was god of, among other things, travelers. This created a particular religious obligation to be hospitable to travelers, but guests also had responsibilities, beyond reciprocating hospitality.

Newfoundland and Newfoundlanders abound in hospitality so Xenia and its prefix is appropriate.

Example (1): In the very first summer my family and I were in Newfoundland, we were all outside one night admiring the bowl of stars overhead when shouts from across the street invited us to a houseparty. When the hosts learned it was my birthday their joy knew no bounds.

Example (2): On the first week of moving here, at the shop, seeing my disappointment at discovering there were no paper coffee filters, the owner insisted on going to her house and bringing me back some of hers.

Example (3): At a restaurant, reading my book as I love to do, one of the diners at a large convivial table came over and invited me to join the happy group. We've all been friends – well more like family - since.

I could go on. And on.

I recommend you go to THIS SITE and play one of the short clips.

Today's post brought to you by the letter X NOT from The Dictionary of Newfoundland English in partnership with the rest of the alphabet beginning here.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

W is for Whirlygig

Miss Eleanor Moody's crime was to be "a Nuisance to the Publick". How, we may speculate. In 1757 she was charged and sentenced to an hour in the whirlygig where she was to remain for an hour "to be properly punished" and from there to be "sent out of this island". Presumably back home to Ireland.

The whirlygig was a primitive instrument of torture. One would be whirled in a cage until one vomited. I've seen these types of apparatus at Disneyesque fairs, where one pays for the privilege of being nauseated and actually begs them to take one's money for more.

Here is the Dictionary of Newfoundland English definition:

whirlygig n OED whirligig sb 2 (a) 'instrument of torture' (1477-1623). Revolving cage in which offenders are placed for punishment.
1757 PANL GN/3B 1 Oct ... cause the Constable to apprehend the said Eleanor Moody, & to put her in Prison 'till 4 o'clock in the afternoon, at which time to cause her to be put in the Whirlygig, where she is to remain One Hour, & to be properly punished, & to be sent out of this Island the first Opportunity, being a Nuisance to the Publick.

And here is the very slender Wikipedia entry. I note they used it to torture women in Tangiers.

And for any movie buffs out there, wasn't "whirly-gig" in old movies the original name for helicopters?

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

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

V is for Vitrid

Antithesis to vitrid - The cliffs full of irises at Cape St. Mary's

I could hardly believe the teensy, tiny, wooshy little definition given to this saucy word in The Dictionary of Newfoundland English.

vitrid a EDD vitrit, vitrid 'angry' Ch. Of a person, nasty, vengeful (P 141-75

No etymology could I find, even in the beloved OED.

So I'm left to my own devices.

And in my brilliance I think: perfect combination of putrid and vile. Vitrid.

Toss that out when someone PO's you and leave them making like a fish behind you.

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

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

U is for Upalong

~~~~Ansa, investigating Upalong by the shore.~~~~

“Oh, she's after going upalong.” I've heard this expression here in Newfoundland with regard to someone leaving for “Canada” (=mainland) or the USA. In the same way one might say “Here be dragons”. An unknown territory, shrouded in dangers and temptations. I had written a short story in the past year pertaining to my home city of Cork, much of it based on truth but fictionalized by me called “Downalong”. So maybe I should consider writing a story about Upalong and then it would be a matched pair.

And of course, as given by the definition below, there were many clashes between the upalongs and the downalongs. The human species being what it is 'n all. No surprises there, h'm?

upalong av Cp EDD up 2 (3) upalong (a) 'a little way up the street or road' Ha IW Do So D Co, ADD ~ Mass for sense 1; EDD 2 (3) (b) [to the east of a county] Ha for sense 3.
1 Away from a person or locality; to or on the mainland of Canada or the United States.
1919 GRENFELLI 226 So Trader Bourne ... put to sea one fine afternoon in late November, his vessel loaded with good things for his necessitous friends 'up along.' 1931 BYRNES 45 [on Regatta Day] all roads led to the 'pond' and the crowds from 'up along,' 'down along,' and 'in along' on 'shanks mare' or lolling luxuriously in a closed carriage from the 'stand' left dull care behind. T 70-641 And they pulled ashore right up, and enquired from all the boats up along. T 169/212-651 Don't suppose we'll ever meet again and you be going upalong now, and we down here. 1970 Evening Telegram 11 May, p. 3 They say there are from 8,000 to 10,000 taking off upalong each year. C 71-106 If we visited neighbours who lived some distance from us, we said we were cruising upalong. 1976 Daily News 2 Nov, p. 2 Local management is not in charge, he says, and 'someone upalong is directing the scene.' 1976 MURPHY 114 I like to think that in his early days going to this school, Mike, a 'Down-Along,' as east enders were called, often met and conversed with (or perhaps fought with) that boy from 'Upalong,' Johnny Dwyer from the Cross Roads (also born in St John's in 1845) who later became professional heavyweight boxing champion of [America]. 1980 Evening Telegram 4 Oct, p. 6 I don't see why our Brian [Peckford] is getting so upset with the boys upalong just because he doesn't think it's a good idea to give our oil away.
2 Hence, upalong n: resident farther inland, or one to the south in a settlement.
1931 BYRNES 120 Who can forget the traditional 'scraps' between the 'upalongs' and 'down-alongs'? Heaven help the unfortunate youth found alone in the other fellow's territory. 1976 MURPHY 32 But the clashes between the 'Down-Alongs,' the boys of the East End, and the 'Up-Alongs,' the boys of the West End, that were in being in the sixties, seventies and eighties were reminders of the old faction fight days.

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

Monday, April 23, 2012

T is for Tuckamore

~~~North Harbour, Southern Shore, in the rain.~~~

Sometimes the most miserable of things are given the most glorious of names. I mean look at this:

tuckamore n also tuckamil, tucken-more, tuckermel, tuckermill, tuckermore DC ~ Nfld (1895-). For tucken-more, see TUCKING BUSH and MORE n. See also TUCK2. (a) Small stunted evergreen tree with gnarled spreading roots, forming closely matted ground-cover on the barrens; also attrib; (b) collectively, low stunted vegetation; scrub.
1863 MORETON 31 Tucken-mores. Small low-grown shrubs and creeping plants. 1866 WILSON 37 In the hollows are the tuckermore bushes, which is a dwarf juniper, with strong branches at right angles to the stem, and closely interlacing each other: the tops of these bushes are level, as if they had been clipped. To walk upon these tuckermores, or penetrate their branches, is equally impracticable. 1868 HOWLEY MS Reminiscences 9 The country is nearly level with scarcely any woods except occasional patches of tucking bushes (Tuckamores). 1891 PACKARD 84 Half-way down, as [the vale] widens out, [it becomes] choked with a stunted spruce and fir growth, or what the people call 'tucking,' or 'tuckermel-bush.' 1895 J A Folklore viii, 39 ~ , in some places tuckamil, a clump of spruce, growing almost flat on the ground and matted together, found on the barrens and bleak, exposed places. Ibid viii, 288 I drawed down to the tuckamores aside the pond and got twict thirty and varty yards from un. I lets drive and the loo' dove. 1919 GRENFELL2 229 He had gone through his snow racquets and actually lost the bows later, smashing them all up as he repeatedly fell through between logs and tree-trunks and 'tuckamore.' 1927 RULE 70 Travelling alongshore between Bonne Bay and Cow Head, I sometimes used the sloping surface of tuckermill as a couch to rest upon. 1970 Evening Telegram 21 May, p. 3 We proceeded as usual to the Witless Bay Line ... and from thence some 13 miles on foot in over the tuckamores. C 70-12 Tuckamore is a sort of low bush which grows in the marshes and in the small valleys. It is in the tuckamore that the path of a rabbit is most likely to be found. 1971 NOSEWORTHY 258 Tuckamoors or tuckamoor trees [are] low bushes on the barrens, about knee-high. 1981 Evening Telegram 17 Oct, p. 8 A good (and bad) cross-section of ptarmigan habitat (i.e. prostrate balsam, tuckamores, high plant or shrub cover, open tundra, rock exposures, marshes, etc).

Yes, we're talking about a stunted little shrub.. Growing all over the barrens here. I guess what throws me off is the “more” attached to it. “More” in the Irish language is “big”. So when I first heard the term “tuckamore” I envisioned enormous trees. Far from it.

Try as I might, I can't find the origin of the name. But I note that there is a Tuckamore Lodge, along with a Tuckamore Chamber Music Festival and even a Tuckamore Capital Fund here.

A great word, not living up to expectations by any stretch of the imagination.

Today's post brought to you by the letter T from The Dictionary of Newfoundland English in partnership with the rest of the alphabet beginning here.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

S is for Slipper Skipper

Boat on the Bay, outside my front door.

OK. So this term is not quite in the Dictionary of Newfoundland English. I think the dictionary needs to catch up with local useage. I've heard the term used more that a few times to recognize it's validity.

How on earth, you may ask, can these two words be linked?

Allow me to tell you.

Slipper skippers are those who never darken the doorway of a wheel house on a ship or haul in a catch in their nets. They can even be so far from the ocean as to make the term “dry dock” refer to a sober physician.

No, they stay completely housebound. They may own the boat but all on board don't report to them, and may never even see their slipper skipper for these skippers never go to sea. A figure head only. To front for the real skipper, for whatever reasons. It wouldn't be wise to ask.

But boy, what a mess at tax-filing time.

I'm worth every penny.

skipper n Cp OED ~ sb2 1 'master of a small ... vessel' (1300-), EDD sb2 1 'head man on board a fishing-boat,' Fisheries of U S 149 'skipper of the dory' for sense 1; BERREY 401 'father' for sense 4.
1 The master of a fishing boat, vessel or crew; BOAT MASTER. Cp PLANTER.
1861 DE BOILIEU 25-6 The cargo unloaded and stored, the crews are divided in parties of three or four men, each being titled according to the position he holds in the boat. For instance, 'skipper,' 'second hand,' 'midshipman'; last comes the 'captain,' who has the least to do—merely, indeed, to cook for the rest and to keep the boat clean. 1866 WILSON 207 [The planter] generally commands the boat himself, and his title is skipper... The planter's wife is generally skipper of the shore crew. [1877] 1898 Nfld Law Reports 147 The defendant, seven with himself to a cod-seine boat, and five under plaintiff, who received a bounty as skipper in a hook-and-line boat. 1898 Christmas Bells 14 Skipper Tom (skipper being the especial title of boat-masters at that time) and three other hardy fishers were 'fit-out.' 1936 SMITH 31 When Sunday came Skipper Garland came over, a distance of five miles, to know how we were getting on, and was delighted to hear of our good luck. He had met with the same luck himself, and had got fish in the first haul after setting his trap. 1953 Nfld Fish Develop Report 18 In most 'lay' arrangements, the owner of the fishing enterprise, i.e., the skipper (and his partners, if any), bears the full extent of these costs as well as capital costs. 1974 SQUIRE 18 The skipper of the schooner took half the catch of fish. The other half was shared equally among the crew... The skipper provided everything for the voyage, the schooner, boats and gear, food for his crew up to six months of the year. 1976 Decks Awash v (2), p. 4 The license, which is slated to go to all fishermen, skippers and crewmembers, must be granted before any other fishing license can be given to the fisherman.
2 Term of respect for a person of high status or esteem; in some contexts a familiar form of address; UNCLE.
[cl830] 1890 GOSSE 53 During the first summer, while the skipper (our representative for the modern term 'governor') was in England... 1858 [LOWELL] i, 90 They called him 'Skipper' as a token of respect. 1895 J A Folklore viii, 37 The word skipper is in universal use, and so commonly applied as almost to have lost its original meaning of the master of a small vessel. It is used toward every person whom one wishes to address with respect, and is almost as common as 'Mr' is elsewhere. Generally the Christian name is used after it, as Skipper Jan, Skipper Kish. 1897 WILLSON 38 ... patiently waiting until they could unfold their grievances or their demands to the 'skipper,' as Sir William is called. [1915] 1972 GORDON 3 As was the case with most of the little communities one finds along the coast, this one had its leader or 'skipper,' as he was generally called. 1924 ENGLAND 46 Everybody aboard a sealing vessel is 'skipper.' T 406-672 What do you say, skipper?
3 Principal of a merchant house or his delegate in shore operations on fishing premises.
1836 [WIX]2 42-3 While I was thus engaged [in sermon], Mr John Cosens, who had been absent, returned, and heard with much satisfaction, of the very hospitable reception which his 'skipper' had given me on my arrival. [1870] 1973 KELLY 19 We got into harbour about 8 a.m. 'Skipper George,' alias George Reynolds, the man in charge of the merchant's rooms, coming out ... with a crew, to pilot us in through the narrow entrance. 1909 BROWNE 70 The merchant, in the fisherman's vocabulary, is the outfitter who provides the supplies for the fishing industry ... and the principal of the 'firm' is known as 'The Skipper.' M 71-95 'Skipper' was used for the head of a household, firm or any employer.
4 Husband; head of the household.
1874 Maritime Mo iii, 547 Jerusha Biddicomb ... observed that 'she should have to wait long before her "skipper" took out the baby for an airing.' P 102-60 As a young man I had a rifle which the skipper gave me permission to use and any seal that I shot from the bank would sink to the bottom this was my share of the catch. P 210-70 Older married people in Carbonear don't call each other by their first names. The man is always 'Skipper' and the lady is always 'Missus.' 1973 WADEL 55 An outport wife is supposed to admit, at least in public, that the husband is in charge—in the local language, that the husband is 'the skipper.' 1977 QUILLIAM 1 The son told the skipper if their old mutt could be taught it would be a wonderful companion when he was away. 1982 Evening Telegram 2 Jan, p. 13 The poor old skipper spoke to everyone [even] to the family rooster, here you are son, dig in your heels, there's lots [of food] for everyone.
5 In the woods industry, contractor for a logging operation.
[1952] 1965 PEACOCK (ed) iii, 746 "The Boys at 'Ninety-Five' " ... Herb Porter is our skipper, with him we did go way, / He is a good old lumberjack raised up in Trinity Bay. / Herb Baker is some foreman as you may understand, / No bigger sport can be found on the shores of Newfoundland. P 65-64 The man in charge of a lumber camp is the 'skipper.' He owns the camp, some tractors, horses, sleds, etc.
6 Attrib skipper man: see sense 1 above. Cp PLANTER MAN.
1909 GRENFELLI 63-4 George Read was skipper-man an' th' rest was just youngsters. 1916 FPU (Twillingate) Minutes 1 Mar The Chairman then asked all the skipper men and old members to come forward and take seats on the platform. 1953 Nfld Fish Develop Report 21 Moreover, the conclusion is based on an investigation of families of skipper men—and it is possible that among sharemen, who belong probably to a younger age-group than skippers, some of the more strenuous alternative occupations contribute more significantly to family incomes. T 50/2-64 Every oar in the water at one time, and a man scullin' —mostly the skipper man, with a big oar. 1975 Evening Telegram 1 Feb, p. 11 In 1968 ... there were 68 skippermen in trap boats, while last year only 23 drew berths and only 14 traps were fished. 1979 Salt Water, Fresh Water 65 And the captain of a dragger today represents the restoration of the Newfoundland aristocracy, which always was the skipper man, the master of his own vessel.

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

Friday, April 20, 2012

R is for Rightify

~~~~~~Shore, glove, leaf, flower.~~~~~~~

Why bother with the word 'correct' or 'rectify' when you have this one to throw around? Much more elegant.

“I need to rightify my knitting.”

“Are you doing anything towards a rightify on that marriage of yours?”

“Those children of hers need a rightify.”

While we're on this, I'd love to have the opposite of rightify too. But alas, it is not to be.

And I feel that's a wrongify waiting for a rightify.

rightify v EDD ~ v Ir, ADD. To correct, rectify; put right (1924 ENGLAND 319).
P 148-61 Make a mistake ... rightify it. T 253/4-66 If I'd go wrong I'd rightify myself, but he's a long song. P 245-82 The drains on the Arterial is wrong in some places. And the Government will have to rightify them—the flooding in the fall showed that.

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

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Q is for Quism

~~~~~~~St. Bride's - Bird Resort.~~~~~~~

Marvellous word, isn't it. And of all the words I've selected for the A-Z blog post challenge for the month of April, it is one I've never heard of before.

But I foresee in my future many excuses for using it in response to peculiarities of speech or story offered by another.

“Oh go 'way out of that with your old quisms!”

You're welcome.

quism n EDD ~ 'an odd or witty saying or quip' So. A quaint saying; a remark felt to be foolish or silly.
[c1894] PANL P4/14, pp. 198-9 A quism is a quaint saying or conundrum. C 71-46 If a black cat crossed in
front of you and [you said] you wanted to detour, my grandmother would promptly retort that she was not
having anything to do with your 'old quisms' and continue in the same direction.

And I'm absolutely certain it has nothing to do with this Wiktictionary definition:

Contraction of quasi-isomorphism

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

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

P is for Pishogue

~~~~~~~~Sunset #1009 from my deck.~~~~~~~~

One of those great words that warped and changed a little as it travelled the many thousands of miles across the stormy ocean from Ireland to Newfoundland.

Here is the standard definition:

pi·shogue also pi·shoge (p-shg)
n. Irish
1. Black magic; sorcery.
2. An evil spell; an incantation.

And that is what I remember from my granny. Who was both a giver and receiver of the pishogue. She would tell me about pishogues being cast by dicey characters in her village and you'd have to ward them off with holy water and a crucifix. I remember one time that the pishogue that was cast on one of her brothers and his family was so awful, she couldn't begin to tell me. All she would say was that it involved black things coming out of the body. My granny. Creator of nightmares of stark, raving terror in the four year old entrusted to her care and protection.

Here is the Dictionary of Newfoundland English definition, a few spelling twirls (I love the fishogues, particularly!) along the way but the basic meaning survived intact apart from the spells.

pishogue n, usu pl also pisherogue, fizoge*, etc. [phonetics unavailable]. EDD ~ Ir; JOYCE 302; DINNEEN piseog 'witchcraft, sorcery,' pl, 'superstitious acts.' Incredible story, foolish talk; complaint.
1931 BYRNES 121 How many years have passed my friends, since you heard these once familiar localisms?. . . 'Sure it's all pisherogues.' 1937 DEVINE 37 ~s Superstitions. Gossipy yarns and incredible stories. 1968 DILLON 138 Fishogues, pisharogues—superstitions about ghosts, fairies, etc, matters a person complains about. 'Them are only some of your old fishogues.'

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

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

O is for Outport

~~~~~My Outport~~~~~

I forget sometimes. I use outport so casually in writing and conversation. You see I live in one. An outport.

A word so descriptive and well quite beautiful and perfect that I feel no explanation should be necessary. But it is, as I am continually surprised to hear. A word that is uniquely Newfoundlandese. We are othered, if you like. Outside the norm. Not part of the in-crowd. I love this bit by the dictionary, emphasis mine:

“The systematic encroachment on the ships' fishing-rooms, so much complained of by the authorities in St John's, were still more rife in the outports, the innovators being probably encouraged by their distance from the notice and correction of the government.”

Well I can attest to that notice and correction bit. No high speed broadband or optic fibre for us. We are beneath the notice of said "inported" government. And there will be no correction.

outport n [phonetics unavailable]. Cp OED ~ 1 1 'term including all ports other than that of London' (1642-); DC 1 Nfld (1820-). A coastal settlement other than the chief port of St John's; OUT-HARBOUR. Also attrib.
1810 STEELE 94 Some few years since, four or five [native Indians] were discovered in a wigwam, by persons who were on the search for them, from an outport. 1842 JUKES i, 25 ... the recent establishment of schools in the outports. 1863 PEDLEY 257 The systematic encroachment on the ships' fishing-rooms, so much complained of by the authorities in St John's, were still more rife in the outports, the innovators being probably encouraged by their distance from the notice and correction of the government. 1887 Colonist Christmas No 2 And, after all, there is nothing but what is quite natural in this great love of Christmas among our outport people, for it is only then that the fisherman can safely say that his summer's toil is over. 1900 PROWSE 116 Outport pilots demanding a greater sum than rate, or accepting a lesser sum. 1907 DUNCAN 113 I'd be a Newfoundlander, outport born, outport bred, of outport strength and tenderness of heart, of outport sincerity, had I my birth to choose. [1909] 1930 COAKER 8 The Inspector of Cullers to be appointed by and responsible to the Department of Marine and Fisheries, and should be an Outport Planter. 1919 Journ of Assembly 314 The third suggestion, Outport Hospitals, is one that has been discussed for some time... I am strongly in favour of a ten-bed hospital conveniently situated in each of the principal bays. 1941 DULEY 74 One of the larger outports, Ship Haven looked as if the sea had bitten the land with a horse-shoe mouth. Scattered widely, the settlement seemed lifted to stare at the sea. 1950 HERBERT 255-6 But if you come in from the sea to any of the innumerable fishing villages (or 'outports') on a sunny day, you would say you were in Norway, or Cornwall. T 43/7-64 But in the outports now, if you're goin' into a house, in the back entrance, the first thing you'll see is a birch broom. 1976 CASHIN 48 Also many of the outport dealers, planters or merchants operated their own coastal schooners or boats, which were continually coming to St John's for additional supplies of all kinds.

And oh, yeah, there is a noun for me too. I am an outporter..

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

Monday, April 16, 2012

N is for Nipper

Oh, I'm familiar with the nipper alright. I'm the type of person at a campfire who's the primary target. I wind up huddled under a blanket, my face hidden, only to find myself discarding it a few minutes later to run madly about flapping my arms quite uselessly. Those nippers are relentless when it comes to my blood and squeeze their way under blankets and protective gear as if I were the long sought after crème brûlée on their dessert menu.

When I heard the word here in Newfoundland for the first time I was puzzled. Growing up in Ireland 'nipper' meant a young lad, an active young lad:

“Fine young nipper you got there, Mrs. Murphy!” and the mother would beam in pride.

“You better watch out for those nippers,” Leo warned me many springs ago, “They can do a lot of damage to you!”

I had visions of marauding young lads bashing me around with sticks.

But no, here they are a cross between a black fly and a mosquito and boy can they bite. And leave swollen reminders all over the body.

(PS and for us oldtimers: what was the name of the dog featured in the logo for the HMV company?)

And here is the definition:

nipper1 n
1 A large biting mosquito; GARNIPPER: gallynipper.
[(1663) 1963 YONGE 60 In July, the muscetos (a little biting fly) and garnippers (a larger one) will much vex us.] [1819] 1978 Beothuk Vocabularies 46 Nipper—bebadrook. 1854 [FEILD] 70 The title or name [Nipper's Harbour] is rather an alarming one, particularly to thin skinned Southerners, as the Nipper is the largest and most formidable of the mosquitoes. 1861 Harper's xxii, 744 Mercy! who ever saw the flies and nippers so bad as they! 1893 Trade Review Christmas No 14 The operator in charge waged a daily and [nightly] war against insect life, viz.:—black flies, [mosquitoes], nippers, horse and sand flies. 1913 THOMAS 191 All day long the black flies made our lives miserable, and as night approached the 'nippers' took their place. [1926] 1933 GREENLEAF (ed) 251 "Change Islands Song": The weather still got hotter, plenty nippers, flies and stout. T 45/6-64 [tall tale] Nippers was that thick that they come and used to drive their thorns down through the bark-pot. According as they drove them down, he used to clench them, and by and by they got that thick on it that they rose the bark-pot and went away with it. C 68-23 We didn't want [the frog] to die because we were told that frogs used to eat nippers (mosquitoes) and we didn't want to hurt anything that helped to destroy the nippers. 1973 PINSENT 56 All Ruth could seem to do was point to the door, which made about as much impression as a nipper's bite on an elephant's arse.
2 In various ball games, the catcher.
M 69-2 The millyer and the nipper were similar to what is today the pitcher and the catcher.

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

Friday, April 13, 2012

M is for Mauzy

Coming up to the letter "M" in the A-Z Challenge, it was serendipitous last night as we stood outside, with the harbour and the lights and the boats made softer and more mysterious by the mist swirling its long fingers along the shore before slithering onto the decks of the boats clustered at the wharf.

"Isn't it grand," said Dan, breathing it all in, "there's nothing like a mauzy day to set the world to rights!"

"Mauzy," said I, "I can't tell you how much I love that word!"

It seems to me like a perfect combination of the words gauzy and misty and it descibes exactly what is shown in my photo above taken from my house.

In June/July when it gets right mauzy, everyone knows to rush to the shore for the capelin who come in to spawn, followed by schools of whales and the hagdowns (birds). We couldn't believe the sights last year, so many whales chasing the capelin right on to the beach. Yes, mauzy is a very good word indeed.

mauzy a also maus(e)y, mawzy [phonetics unavailable]. Cp EDD mosey adj1 3 'damp and warm, muggy, close; foggy.' Of the weather, damp, foggy, misty or close, sometimes with very light rain or condensation on objects and a cool, gentle wind off the sea; cp CAPLIN (SCULL) WEATHER.
1897 J A Folklore x, 207 Mausey day, one dull and heavy, with no wind and thick mist. 1937 DEVINE 33 A mausey day is a cloudy, foggy day with no wind and a little rain at times. 1957 Daily News 16 Oct, p. 4 Oldtime seal hunters ... expressed the opinion that the long, hard winter, the heavy ice and the 'mauzy' weather of early March were just right for a bumper season. P 105-63 It's a mauzy old day, sir. 1968 KEATING 13-14 'Breeze comin' from duh suddard,' the skipper said. 'Always blows up mauzy weather.' And the fog did indeed roll over the deep as the warm south wind hit the chill air of the bank. 1969 HORWOOD 166 The Caplin Scull is not just a phenomenon of nature, but also a period of the year, and even a special kind of weather—'mausy' weather, with high humidity, frequent fogs or drizzles, easterly winds.

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

L is for Labrador

For the information of those not from Canada, the province of Newfoundland is actually the province of “Newfoundland and Labrador”.

Newfoundland itself is an island. Labrador is attached on its western border to the province of Quebec and is known as “The Big Land” and big is probably an understatement. Labrador is referred to by its familiars as “The Labrador”.

Labrador's area is over twice that of the island of Newfoundland and it has only 6% of the province's population. The aboriginal peoples of Labrador include the Northern Inuit of Nunatsiavut, the Southern Inuit-Métis of Nunatukavut (NunatuKavut), and the Innu. The non-aboriginal population in Labrador did not permanently settle in Labrador until the natural resource developments of the 1940s and 1950s. Before the 1950s, very few non-aboriginal people lived in Labrador year round. The few European immigrants who worked seasonally for foreign merchants and brought their families were known as Settlers.

It has not been without its own troubles. The treatment of its aboriginals has long been a source of shame in Canada and the many relocations of Labrador's tribes has resulted in horrific addiction and suicides of the young when moved away from their traditional hunting grounds to enable the plundering of the rich natural resources and harnessing the water for hydro. Monetary compensation has never been the solution.

A Royal Commission in 2002 determined that there is a certain amount of public pressure from Labradorians to break off from Newfoundland and become a separate province or territory. Some of the Innu nation would have the area become a homeland for them, much as Nunavut is for the Inuit; a 1999 resolution of the Assembly of First Nations claimed Labrador as a homeland for the Innu and demanded recognition in any further constitutional negotiations regarding the region.[7] The northern Inuit self-government region of Nunatsiavut was recently created through agreements with the provincial and federal governments. The Southern Inuit of Nunatukavut (NunatuKavut), who are also seeking self-government, have their land claim before the federal government. The provincial government of Newfoundland refuses to recognize or negotiate with the Inuit of NunatuKavut until their claim has been accepted by the federal government.

Happy Valley-Goose Bay is the principal city. A name that is so beautiful. And, I would think, to some of its inhabitants, sadly ironic.

The Dictionary of Newfoundland English devotes 5 pages to all things Labradorian. Everyone is familiar with the dog, of course, but there are other animals and birds with the prefix too: ducks, porcupines, jumping mouse (!), sable, and white fox to name a few. Labrador tea is a tea made from low lying evergreen shrubs.

A beautiful song, composed many years ago, praises the Women of Labrador. Unfortunately my interwebz connection is appalling this last week so I can't link to a YouTube of it but here are some of the lyrics:

Today's post, brought to you by the letter L, begun here

Thursday, April 12, 2012

K is for Killick

I've seen killicks, the odd time, scattered in sheds, lost in the grass, tied to a lobster pot. Some who still use them swear by them as handy and quickly made anchors.

Here is the definition from the Dictionary of Newfoundland English:

killick n also keel-log, kellock, keylock*. G. Pulman, Rambles, Roamings, and Recollections (London, 1870) p. 135 kellick 'local name [in Lyme Regis, Do] for the stone used as an anchor for fishing boats'; Anglo-Manx Dialect 98 'In oul' times the boat would be anchored with a wooden kellagh that had a big stone in it to sink it'; AND kellick (1867-1962); Burton Bradstock, Do 'large stone picked off the beach used as an anchor'(P 304-90).
1 1680 CO 1/45 (68i), 252, v 'They launcht a new shalloway from the Adm[ira]lls place & put the rest of theire provisions into her & moord her with 2 keylocks.' 1688 CO 1/22, 66 [The English fishermen upon the ledges] for feare of being surprized (not then knoweing what the shipp really was) weighed their killicks and came into harbour. 1832 MOSS MS Diary 20 Apr Capt. Frederick and myself walked down to the Killick stand. 1836 WIX 82 We came to ice, at the edge of which persons were engaged in boats, fastened to the ice by keel-logs, catching codfish. 1981 SPARKES xv Then 'kellock' or 'killick'...was a simple, home-made anchor for nets and, sometimes, for small punts. 1983 Gazetteer of Undersea Feature Names 104, 105 Kellick Shoal, Killick Ledge, Killock Shoal. 1987 O'FLAHERTY 50 At Ferryland he was given a large replica of a killick, made by a local craftsman, to take back to St John's.

You can see that the word was born of the Anglo-Manx Dialect. And I note there is a reference to Kellagh in the definition. And that made me pause. I've no idea of the origination of the name of the town of Killeagh, in East Cork, Ireland, but the similarity is striking. Digging around in the muck of the interwebz I come up with this:

Killeagh (Cill Ia) Cork. ‘Church of Ia’.

Churches and rocks! For upon this rock....etc! Good enough a connection for me.

I go through Killeagh most times when I am back in Ireland and visit the land of my forebears in East Cork. For here, 70 years ago this year, is the church where my parents were married.

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

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.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I is for Ice

I'll give you ice! And bear in mind these are only a few ice words selected from the Dictionary of Newfoundland English. Ice was a way of life here but now, with climate change and PETA, less so. The following are a few selected words:

Ice-bird – the common dovekie
Ice-blind – temporary loss of sight caused by the glare of ice
Ice-block – blockade of coast during winter
ice boat or ice skiff – flat boat used in sealing
Ice-cat – sled used to haul wood in winter
Ice-chock – heavy lumber used to strengthen the hull of a sealing vessel
Ice clumper – floating pan of ice
Ice-gall – patch of bare slippery ice
Ice gaze – hunter's blind constructed from ice
Ice-glim – glow or brightness seen over a distant ice field
Ice-master – Captain of a sealing vessel
Ice-plant – sea lungwort, a spreading plant with oval leaves, pink-blue flowers
Ice-quar – ice formed from water seeping from or over the ground in freezing temperatures.
Ice skiff – undecked boat 30-40 feet long used in seal hunts
Ice-work – the seal hunt

And my favourite kind of ice? The slab-ice that forms on the shore like piled up paving stones. These are called Bella Carters. A word that still enchants me. I wrote it about it here.

Monday, April 09, 2012

H is for Hag

{An eagle over the water at my front door.}

A three-letter word with so many definitions:

hag1 n [phonetics unavailable]. Cp OED ~1 1 c obs (1632, 1696) for sense 1; OED hag-ridden 1, EDD hag sb1 2 (4) hag-ride esp Do So D Co for comb in sense 3. See D Hufford, 'A New Approach to the "Old Hag" [Nfld], 'in WAYLAND D HAND American Folk Medicine (1976), pp. 73-45.
1 The nightmare; freq in form old hag. Cp DIDDIES.
1896 J A Folklore ix, 222 A man ... told me he had been ridden to death by an old hag, until a knowledgeable old man advised him to drive nails through a shingle, and lash it to his breast when he went to bed. [1929] BURKE [6] "No Short Skirts": For her skirts are so tight round the hips, Jennie, / It's no wonder she got the old hag. 1924 ENGLAND 216 A sufferer from nightmare is supposed to be ridden by something called 'the old hag,' and the only way to free him from torment is to call his name backward. 1937 Bk of Nfld i, 230 Nightmare is called by fishermen the 'Old Hag.' T 222-66 Well, by this time it would be bedtime, and perhaps after such an exciting day you would probably have bad dreams; in fact you might have the old hag, or a nightmare. C 69-22 He often gets the hag. Usually he is dreaming that someone is chasing him [or] he may be falling from somewhere. C 70-23 If you sleep on your back you'll have hags. 1975 Evening Telegram 20 Dec, p. 3 Christmas for many has moved beyond the yearly sufferable nightmare to the realm of that particularly exquisite nocturnal terror called, in Newfoundland,'The Old Hag.'
2 Part of inner organs of a lobster, discarded in eating (P 127-73); OLD WOMAN.
3 Comb hag-rode: (a) troubled by nightmare; (b) bewitched (see P 51-67 quot).
P 213-55 Hagorid: [afflicted by] a nightmare, especially one in which the victim feels someone sitting on his chest. P 51-67 When he couldn't catch any fish, he said he was hagrode. C 67-10 ~ [Hagrode is when] she awakes in a sweat and feels pinned to the bed by some unseen force.

The Old Hag is well known here. She's rude and intrusive and visits you on the darkest of nights and strikes you down with fear and terror or can 'ride you to death'. And, according to folklore, very soon after her visit you will die. She's a first cousin to the Banshee.

Now I'm familiar with the Banshees of Ireland, I was bred and buttered in the stories of the Banshee who came visiting all the strong families whose surnames began with O'. These were the clans who stood up to the British occupation of Ireland and refused to “take the soup”, drop the O' and convert to Protestantism in the times of starvation and persecution.

The Banshee's visit foretells a death too. But only the death of another O' holder. And I'm here to tell you, as Maude is my judge, that on the night of my mother's death, proud O'Sullivan Beara she, the Banshee visited me.

Today's post brought to you by the letter H in partnership with the rest of the alphabet begun here.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

G is for Glauvaun

{Photo is one of my series "My Newfoundland"}

From The Dictionary of Newfoundland English:

glauvaun n also glabaun, glawvawn DINNEEN glámhán 'a murmuring, complaining'; Kilkenny
Lexicon glámhán. Continuous complaining; one who grumbles.
1968 DILLON 140 'Tis the one glawvawn with him all the time. That's all that one is, a glawvawn. C 71-95 A person who is always worrying about something, usually a trivial matter, is a glabaun.

Pronounced “Glawvawn.”

This is one of those words that hitched a ride on a fishing boat in the eighteenth century and came, undulated or anglicized, all the way over from Waterford.

It is onomatopoeic as many of the words of my people are. Just say it, extend the syllables. You won't need a definition.

It puts me in mind of "Cnáimhseáil" with that same kind of whining, whinging undertone to it. Marvellous words - though I need to be mindful of my degree of intimacy with each of them!

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

Friday, April 06, 2012

F is for Forecuddy

{One of the spectacular sunsets at my doorstep}

I cheat a bit. I originally posted about this wonderful word here:

Comb fore-cuddy: cabin at the bow of a small vessel; esp on an undecked fishing-boat, a small enclosed space forward; CUDDY.
1842 JUKES ii, 53 I went and lay down in the fore cuddy, a place about the size of a dog-kennel, and stinking of salt butter and fish, and was dreadfully seasick. 1887 Colonist Christmas No 5 I had just settled this in my mind, when who should I see coming up out of the fore-cuddy but Tom Pugsley, in his go-ashore clothes, like myself. [1929] 1933 GREENLEAF (ed) 254 "Lukey's Boat": O, Lukey's boat got a fine fore cutty, / And every seam is chinked with putty.

I admit I was completely enraptured with the renovations to my kitchen while still maintaining the incredible workmanship of its original owner, a marvellous carpenter, fisher, sawmill owner and small farmer.

And I still am enthralled about how my little forecuddy works. It is the most efficient kitchen I've ever played in. And I've had challenging renovations in kitchens in my time. There is nothing more frustrating than a kitchen where you are traipsing miles from fridge to stove to dishwasher all day. In this one you can't swing a cat but everything is within arm's length.

I've always loved kitchens where there is a little island (or in my case a peninsula) for guests if they want to chop the tomatoes but not be in one's way and room adjacent and within sight and hearing for guests to sit and chat whilst including the cook. This is one such kitchen. I've recently added a stool for the helper. And Daughter presented me with one of those old fashioned heating trays to keep seconds warm while firsts are being consumed. This sits on the peninsula too, along with the coffee.

And honestly with 3 windows in this area looking out at the ocean, I think my little kitchen has totally earned the soubriquet “Forecuddy” don't you?

Today's post brought to you by the letter F in partnership with the rest of the alphabet, started here.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

E is for Elevenses

{"My Newfoundland" photo series - O'Donnell's}

Not so fast with the definitions there, oh ye of Irish and British isles origin!

Gosh, I remember the days in Ireland when I was in a total doss of a job (one of a few of the first female accountants hired by a national company) when my Elevenses were rolled in on a cart by a maid in a black and white uniform, the tea served in real bone china cups, and a selection of cakes, buns and rolls were on offer. Free. As part of the job. We all took a break while we slurped. And Threeses came in the afternoons (after a 1-1/2 hour dinner break) with more luxurious pastries on carted offer. I'm amazed we weren't all rolled home every day.

But be that as it may.

Elevenses in Newfoundland are a different matter entirely.

From the Dictionary Of Newfoundland English:

'Oh, poor man, his elevenses are up.' This means a person is fading and not long for this world, because the two muscles in the back of the neck stick out like two bones (resembling 11).
There. And hands up those who haven't immediately felt the back of their necks? Or looked at another's?

Today, brought to you by the letter E, in the ongoing April A-Z challenge.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

D is for Dory

I wrote this wee poem to honour the dory in my picture from August of 2010:

Buttering the silent water
Bobbing slowly into winter
Buffed curves of poignancy
Burnishing our sweet autumn.

And The Dictionary of Newfoundland English defines “Dory” thus:

A small flat-bottomed boat with flaring sides and a sharp bow and stern, providing both stability in the water and easy stowage in stacks on deck, used esp in fishing with hand-lines and trawls; freq in designations of various sizes of vessel employing such craft: four-dory vessel, etc

The dory was an intrinsic part of the fisher's life for hundreds of years in Newfoundland. They are still used (and built) here and often towed (as they were back then too) behind the long liners. And they are painted in their own distinctive colour – dory buff, a soft golden yellow.

These days there are dory races, incredible to behold. The speed attained by the men at the oars make these flat-bottomed heavyweights sing through the water.

And I was at a funeral here, several years ago, where an empty dory was carried into the church and placed, bottom up, beside the casket. The lump in my throat took a long while to fade.

A continuation in the alphabetical series for April, started here.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

C is for Curwibble

{Photo taken today by my home.}

Continuing in the alphabetical series for April, started here, I bring you the letter C and one of my favourite words from the Dictionary of Newfoundland English.

I wrote a post a while back on the many, many words the Irish have for intoxication. Far, far more than the reputed Inuit words for 'snow'. You can check that post out here if you wish.

And now we get to add to that list with the magnificent Curwibble and it is defined thusly:

Unsteady or fantastic motions of man or beast such as those caused by too many glasses - he was cutting the curwibbles alright.

Curwibbling - sounds far too dignified for the condition, doesn't it?

Monday, April 02, 2012

B is for Boil-Up

{Picture taken yesterday outside my house}

Continuing in the alphabetical series for April ( see here for inital post) , I bring you the letter B and the boil-up - a most unique Newfoundland tradition.

Boil up, back in the day, was usually a cup of tea and a snack taken during a break from work in the country or on a shipping vessel.

Over time, this small break became a “mug-up” and the boil-up took on far more significance, evolving into a portable Jigg's Dinner and taken into the heart of the country on berry and bird hunts and on to the shore and beaches as an alternative to barbecues.

It involves a huge stockpot (kettle) and the following: salt beef, potatoes, turnip, carrot, and dried yellow peas in a muslin bag. All this is thrown into the kettle and boiled on top of a portable stove or hibachi or whathaveyou. It doesn't matter how long it is boiled. It tastes incredibly good particularly in the outdoors. A whole roast turkey (there are special pots for this also!) is often added to the feast along with potato salad and turnip greens.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

A is for Arn

My blogposts for the month of April will be part of an A-Z challenge initiated by Zombie and there will be (at last count!) 1400 of us participating.

I made the decision to base my posts on the Dictionary of Newfoundland English –and here is my first post.

“Arn” in Newfoundland means 'anyone' or 'any'.

Its opposite is 'narn' which means 'no one' or 'none'.

Consequently the shortest conversation that ever took place in Newfoundland, Canada (a province of incredible talkers!) is as follows:

One fisherman met another on the way back from the fishing grounds.
The first asked: 'Arn?'
To which the other replied: 'Narn.'
This translates as 'Ever the one?'
'Never the one (fish).'