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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.

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introduction to newfoundland and labrador

Introduction to Newfoundland and Labrador

Basic Facts

Ethnic groups

General linguistic information

French minority

Minority language preservation

facts about newfoundland and labrador

Factsabout NewfoundlandandLabrador

  • Official languages: None
  • Capital: St. John`s
  • Largest city: St. John`s
  • Population (2001): 533,800
  • Density: 1.43/km²
newfoundland and labrador


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

newfoundland and labrador1


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


french minority

French minority

There are three distinct groups of French-language origin currently found in the province:

1st group:

- 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

university system

french minority1

French minority

2nd group:

- 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


french minority2

French minority

3rd group:

- 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

french minority3

French minority

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-

language rights.

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

french in stephenville 3 rd group

French in Stephenville (3rd group)

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.

french minority preservation

French minority preservation

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.

minority language preservation


The province of Newfoundland and Labrador has no official policy

The only minority whose linguistic rights are governed by legislation are

Newfoundland French:

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

warrant this.

Minority languages, whether of aboriginal or European origin, are

seriously threatened.

newfoundland english1

Newfoundland English

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

phonological and grammatical features

Phonological and grammatical features

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


3rd person singular inflection

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‘‘

per se)

past participle formed by using “after” instead of “have”

 i´m telling after him to stop

rounding of long “i”

 Mike= Moike

Other Expressions

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

newfoundland irish english

Newfoundland Irish English

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

English settlers

Segregation of Irish and English. Irish → southern shore, parts of

Conception Bay


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”

the position of irish

The position of Irish:

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

 Irish loans:

Hangashore → useless individual (derived from Irish ainniseoir → mean person)

Sleeveen → rascal

Pishogue → superstition

Crubeen → cooked pig’s food

 Direct influence:

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.

irish influence on phonology and morphology

Irish influence on phonology and morphology:

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

Ambi-dental fricatives:

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.


Stress patterns:

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.

Morphological features:

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.

→ Example:

He must be Scottish.

He mustn’t be Scottish. Irish-English

He can’t be Scottish. Non-Irish-English

the syntax of newfoundland english and irish english

The Syntax of Newfoundland English and 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.


3) The habitual aspect:

An habitual for the verb be is found with do or with an inflectional –s on the

verb stem: 

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


→ example: 

They owns the whole road.

Sandra Clarke: The use of inflectional –s is not categorical, but a matter of



References 01.07.06

Language in Newfoundland by Sandra Clarke 01.07.06

The Atlantic edge from Raymond Hickey