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1982: Dictionary of Newfoundland English published

The Story


Come on, boy, wallop'er down! (Let's dance!) Only in Newfoundland, eh? This CBC Television clip reveals that this colourful idiom has blossomed because almost all inhabitants of Newfoundland and Labrador come from a similar Irish/English background. On Nov. 8, 1982, a dictionary documenting Newfoundland's unique and unusual dialect hits the streets and is an instant hit. More than 65 per cent of the copies have already been sold in advance within the "big island."

Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: Nov. 8, 1982
Guests: George Earle, Clyde Rose, George Story
Reporter: Barbara Yaffe
Duration: 2:28

Did You know?


• Some examples from the dictionary:
- bare-legged: black tea offered without food
- dab: smoked
- harrished: harassed, annoyed
- nunny-bag: knapsack
- pampooties: socks or soft shoes
- sagger: a good boatload of fish
- swally: to swallow
- wait-a-minutes: hardwood matches

• During the Christmas season in rural areas, mummers or jannies disguise themselves in old clothing and travel about the community on foot. Residents try to guess who is behind each disguise. Then they break out a cardeen (accordion) or guitar, sing a few songs, dance a jig and enjoy a drink before moving on to the next house.

• The idea for a dictionary was conceived at Newfoundland's Memorial University in 1969. The 770-page paperback was researched and compiled by G. M. Story, W. J. Kirwin and J. D. A. Widdowson. In 1998/99, an online version was published.

• More than 98 per cent of the inhabitants of Newfoundland and Labrador are Irish and English descendants. Most immigrants came at the beginning of the 19th century from the southwest of England and southeast of Ireland. The "big island" is also home to Mi'kmaq indians and to a very small (.04 percent) French-speaking population. Innu, Inuit and Labrador Métis communities are found in Labrador.


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