D is for Dictionary & D is for Duckish

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When Rachel arrives in Twig, she has some high-falutin’ notions about how to improve her students’ grammar and speech. Fellow teacher Doug decides to set her straight, introducing her to  The Dictionary of Newfoundland English:

Doug thrust two items  in my hands, a heavy yellow hardback book and a slim bound paper, its pages the colour of weak tea. Then he spun on his heel and left without another word.

Why was he so mad at me? I sat down on the stool and looked at the books he’d given me. The thick hardback was called A Dictionary of Newfoundland English. I couldn’t believe it. They had their own dictionary. I began flipping through the book, stopping to read random entries.

A discussion about arse went on for two columns; the entry for seal and related words and expressions lasted more than seven pages. It turned out that a bayman, which Patrick had said he’d make Doug in that first assembly, was someone who lived on or near a bay. A bazz was a blow or a slap. To blear was to utter prolonged complaints. Blearing. Is that what I’d been doing? My face burned at some of my thoughts about Twig and its inhabitants.

There are some wonderful videos on YouTube that explain Newfoundland words, like the one below about duckish. Oh, and I  looked duckish up in the Dictionary (p.158) and found that twilight can also be expressed as “between the duckies.” Love that.



Bonus time: pick a letter (any letter!) from the alphabet and leave it in a comment below and I’ll look up a word starting with that letter in the Dictionary and give you its definition below.





17 thoughts on “D is for Dictionary & D is for Duckish

    • K is for keen.

      ” Adj slang ‘wonderful.’ (a) Of the weather, perfect of its kind and season; (b) of a meal, tasty.

      “Boy this is a keen day. …They had a keen scoff at Joe’s last night.”

  1. Happy Belated Birthday Dow!! I meant to send a note yesterday but we had a Concert ( Hedley and Carly Rae Jepson) last night and time got away from me. Hope you had an awesome day. It is our ‘double nickle’ Birthday as Brian Murphy calls it. :-)E

    • Speaking of ten year olds …

      Z is for zosweet.

      “zosweet n 1978 Beothuk Vocabularies … Partridge susut; zosweet; zosoot. Beothuk term for Allen’s willow ptarmigan, Welch’s rock ptarmigan; PARTRIDGE.
      1903 Nfld Qtly iii (1), 3 “The Last of the Boeothics’ Lament”: [They] must away ere the stars on the dark blue shall pale/Must speed ere the zosweet first utters its cry.”

      FYI, the Beothuk were indigenous to Newfoundland but none remain alive today. You might appreciate a poem, Shanaditwit, written by Al Pittman, a NL poet, about the last known Beothuk, but I couldn’t find a copy online.

    • Yes the video clips are great.

      So many h words to choose from … hove or hacker or holly (not the plant)…

      H is for homely.

      “homely a ~ 1 ‘at home.’ Satisfied in the home; ‘at home.’ 1937 DEVINE 27 ~ Inclined to stay at home, seldom seen out visiting; ‘Mrs Smith is got very homely.’

  2. I think homely may have also meant plain, ordinary, not pretty.Not distinguished ‘She’s a homely maid’.

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