Newfoundland. Introduction to Newfoundland and Labrador. Basic Facts Ethnic groups General linguistic information French minority Minority language preservation. Newfoundland and Labrador 10th province of the Canadian confederation – since 31.3.1949. Facts about Newfoundland and Labrador.
General linguistic information
Minority language preservation
Newfoundland and Labrador10th province of the Canadian confederation – since 31.3.1949
Nowadays Newfoundland/Labrador is from a linguistic
perspective the most homogeneous area of Canada
The majority of Newfoundlanders call English as their sole
mother tongue (98 per cent; 1991)
Newfoundland/Labrador has a rich linguistic history, since it
was one of the earliest areas of the New World to be
However, most of the languages have totally disappeared
Although in-migration peaked in the first half of the 19th
century, its effects have been minimal:
According to the 1991 census, over 92 per cent of
residents were born within the province;
Fewer than 2 per cent were born outside Canada, the
majority from these being from the United States or
There are three distinct groups of French-language origin currently found in the province:
- located in and near the city St. John`s
- Consists of approximately 1,000 francophones
- Is primarily Québécois, but also contains French speakers from
Europe and St-Pierre/Miquelon
- Many work for the federal government, as well as the school and
- Located in the Wabush area of western Labrador, where the
earliest francophones arrived in the late 1950s to work in the
developing iron or ore industry
- Is also primarily of Québécois origin
- In 1971, over 2,000 people (approximately 11 per cent of the
population of western Labrador) were francophone
- In 1986 however, after a downturn in the minig industry, the
French-speaking population had decreased by approximately two
- Located in the southwestern part of the island of Newfoundland,
in the area of Port-au-Port peninsula and St. Georg`s Bay
- The first French speakers of Newfoundland settled this area at
the end of the 18th century
- By 1850, the population of this area was 80 per cent French
The 20th century proved a period of major cultural and linguistic
assimilation for the French speakers of Newfoundland`s west coast.
This was reinforced – at least until 1970 – by the lack of minority-
While the church had attempted to provide French-speaking priests
throughout the 19th century, this ceased after 1928.
Schooling was provided exclusively in English and punishment was
meted out to students using French at school
The decline of French language and culture accelerated after 1940 with
the construction of an American air force base near Stephenville (the
largest of the francophone west-coast communities)
The employment opportunities offered by the base drew a large
number of English-speaking Newfoundlanders to the area
Newfoundland`s confederation with Canada 1949 did nothing to curb
the assimilation process
By the mid 1970`s no resident of Stephenville under the age of 50 spoke
French as mother tongue.
By the beginning of the 1970`s emerged the availability of government
support for French minority groups:
Several francophone associations were founded.
They play an important role in fostering linguistic and cultural
In 1974 French-language television was introduced from Montreal.
In 1975 a bilingual school was established in the village of Cap-St-
More recent developments, in at least some of the Port-au-Port
communities, have included bilingual postal services and a French-
language community television channel.
The province of Newfoundland and Labrador has no official policy
The only minority whose linguistic rights are governed by legislation are
Article 23 of Canada`s Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees
French-language education for children of Canadian cities whose
mother tongue is French, at least where numbers are sufficient to
Minority languages, whether of aboriginal or European origin, are
It is the name for several dialects of English specific to the province of Newfoundland and Labrador
For speakers of American English, Newfoundland English is among the most difficult ones to understand
Heaviest speakers of this dialect live outport communities, generations are losing their roots
Only 25% of youth speak their accent fluently
56% speak their accent “ when they are angry or annoyed”
92% of the older generation speak their accent fluently
Separate dialects developed because of the history
Newfoundland was one of the first areas to be settled (1600), mostly by North American English speakers
The peak was around 1800, most immigrants stayed isolated on their island, allowing the dialects to develop independent of that on the North American continent
Newfoundland English differs from Canadian English in vowel pronunciation
fear/ fair are homophones
Morphology and Syntax
Newfoundlanders use the word bes [“bıs”]
The rock normally bes under water
’’Bes’’ is a carryover of the Irish Gaelic grammar
Preservation of archaic adverbial-intensifiers
That play was right boring
Loss of dental fricatives ( voiced and voiceless “th”-sounds)
Usually replaced by closest voiced or voiceless alveolar stop t/d
generalized to a present tense maker
I likes, you (ye) likes...
avoiding of the verb “to be” (influenced from Irish, don´t have ‘‘to have‘‘
past participle formed by using “after” instead of “have”
i´m telling after him to stop
rounding of long “i”
Whadd ´ya at? = What are you at
Stay where you´re to ´til I comes where you´re at= wait there for me
What´s on the go?= what´s going on
Greatest distinction between Newfoundland English and Canadian English is vocabulary
includes Inuit and first nations words: Tabanask= kind of sled
Archaic English words no longer found in other dialects
pook = a mound of hay
Created words to describe things unique for Newfoundland
stun breeze = wind of at least 20 knots ( 37 km/h)
Words having undergone a semantic shift
rind = bark of tree
Words which origins are unknown
diddies = nightmare
Irish English has been derived from the south-east of Ireland and has
almost been isolated from other forms of English in North America until the
middle of the 20th century.
First Irishmen in the 17th century, they came for fishing in the summer
By the 1830’s number of Irish settlers by 38.000
Name of Newfoundland from the Irish “Talamh an Éisc” → “Ground of fish”
Main settlement: St. John’s
The Irish had to adapt to the more progressed and socially superior
Segregation of Irish and English. Irish → southern shore, parts of
Term of “Anglo-Irish” (→ English form of Irish ‘Anglo’ as a modifier to the head ‘Irish’),
Term “Hiberno-English” (→ derived from Latin ‘Hibernia’, a term for ‘Ireland’ and ‘English’), most common and neutral term is “Irish English”
Irish influence is based on two aspects:
1) before English was transported to Newfoundland
2) the influence of Irish on English at the new location
Hangashore → useless individual (derived from Irish ainniseoir → mean person)
Sleeveen → rascal
Pishogue → superstition
Crubeen → cooked pig’s food
Because the quantity of Irish speakers is not very high and the sociolinguistic position of Irish would have been as low as in Ireland otherwise
The originally Irish characteristic of English speech in the Irish communities on Newfoundland has been intensified through members of religious orders who has been sent to Newfoundland as teachers.
Loss of initial /h/:
For the Irish-derived population the status of word-initial /h-/ is always pronounced in contrast to the English-derived population of Newfoundland.
It is not only an established phoneme, but also an important morphological function in the language: it indicates the third person possessive feminine:
a h-iníon → her daughter, a iníon → his daughter, a n-iníon → their daughter
Lack of ambi-dental fricatives in the THINK and THIS lexical set:
think [tink] and this [dis]
These have been plosivised, or rather were transported to Newfoundland as stops to begin with.
A prominent feature of Newfoundland English is the final stress in an accumulation of words.
Affected are proper names in local pronunciation, like:
Newfound/land, Labra/dor and Carbo/near
In Ireland there is also a stress at the end of words, which probably can be traced to the influence of Anglo-Norman.
The final stress pattern may also go back to the non-English influence, for instance the many names of French, Spanish or Portuguese origin in Newfoundland.
There is a special form for the second person plural pronoun ye to distinguish from the second person singular form you → ubiquitous in Irish-derived Newfoundland English
In Irish English exists a negative form of must with epistemic sense. Other varieties of English the epistemic negative is expressed by can.
He must be Scottish.
He mustn’t be Scottish. Irish-English
He can’t be Scottish. Non-Irish-English
1) Perfective with ‘after’:
Use of the adverb after followed by an –ing verb form:
She’s after breaking the bowl.
Michael was after crashing the car.
2) Resultative perfective:
This kind of perfective stresses the result of an action, therefore it is found with transitive verbs:
I have the door painted.
An habitual for the verb be is found with do or with an inflectional –s on the
He does be tired after work.
They bees out fishin’ of a Saturday.
Irish: habitual do is less common than generalised –s, but more common than inflected be.
Newfoundland English: do habitual only exists for be.
4) The suffixial –s:
Suffixial –s quite common thoughout the verb paradigm with all pronominal
They owns the whole road.
Sandra Clarke: The use of inflectional –s is not categorical, but a matter of
Language in Newfoundland by Sandra Clarke
The Atlantic edge from Raymond Hickey