Feb 14, 2010

We are going to start off with something new this time. Hope you will find it fun. Let’s see how many can guess who this is. Submit your answers to me: Faye Raynard Lewis by email: brfr1@verizon.net

(We will announce those who answered correctly the next time we visit here. Also if you have a mystery photo of someone from Gander or spot in Gander, we’d like to include it as part of this feature, and you can submit it to me as an attachment  jpg) Thanks.flr







I was reminded after receiving an email from Angus Taylor recently that a lot of old sayings and expressions that we once heard are no longer being used. As I was joking with Angus about something I didn't understand, he replied: "What are ya like a'tal?"

It reminded me of other 'sayings' we used to hear.

My grandmother, thinking out loud, talking about something she needed to do would say, "I will 'commence' to do this."

Or another being baffled by something, would say: "What in tarnation?"

We were always told to 'heap our plate' or 'feast your eyes on that'.

My friend, Susan Penwell, from Dartmouth remembers living in an outport village in NL. When she first moved there, she met an old gent at the post office who said to her:

"I knows you. You lives next to I."

Does this bring to mind any other ‘old sayings’?

Faye Lewis Raynard, GA Class of 1959


There are so many that are unique to Newfoundland, most of which have origins in the old country.

We have of course our own Newfoundland Dictionary on English.

I like 'da once' and use it often. "I'll be there da'once". 

Angus Taylor, GA Class of 1962 


My grandfather used to say "I need to get a crop" - get his hair cut; Also remember my mother and lots of Newfies say when they are fed up about something:

'I'm poisoned or it poisons me”;
Scrawb - years ago used to hear kids bickering say,  'I'll scrawb ya' - scratch with their nails;
A favorite for Newfies when something goes wrong - 'that's shocking';
When talking to my Aunt in Newfoundland recently - I mentioned my brother and she said:

 'Is he handy?'  Of course, she meant is he close by, so she could talk to him, but I replied 'no he is hopeless - can't do a thing';
Were any of you ever called 'saucy' or 'little crackies' when young?  

Gerri Nimmo, SJ: Class of 1959


Here is one old saying :

"Stay where you are 'til I comes where you're at"

Norm Hounsell, GA Class of 1961


There are books written about those sayings in NL.  But, the ones I get a kick out of are the contradictory phrases that we sometimes use here - like the first time two friends went across the gulf on the ferry with each of their trailers in  tow.  When they got on the other side they both stopped to see if they were all set to carry on with their trips and the first fellow said to the second :

 "Well, how did you get on gettin' off?" 

Then later when they were maneuvering in a parking lot and one fellow was directing the other, he yelled -:

"Okay, go ahead and back up!"

I used to have a teacher on my staff who, when students were carrying on somewhere, would yell: "Come on, come on, get outta here!"

We also use the double negative - I've often had someone come to me and say :

"I don't suppose you have nothing for me to do, do you?" 

I would know what was meant, but, if it were said anywhere else there might be some difficulty in the translation. 

Someone told me one time he had an old fellow come to him and ask:

"I don't suppose you wouldn't have nar bit o' work for me to do, would you?"

Then there are the terms used for direction - in some places they say - "Up the road" - in others - "Down the road" - these are not difficult to understand if there are hills involved, but, how about - "Out the road" - or - "In the road?" 

Here in GFW, if we are travelling east to Clarenville, we say we are - "Going out to Clarenville" - but, if we are going to St. John's which is further east, we say we are - "Going in to St. John's."  If we going north to St. Anthony, we say we are going - "Up to St. Anthony" - but, if we are going on to Labrador, we say we are going - "Over to Labrador" - even though we are going further north.

Only in Newfoundland, as they say.

Ron Mosher, GA Class of 1959


I don't know how old or uncommon this one might be but I heard it said just before a fiddle tune cover in the 2001 NFLD film Rare Birds.

"Say it when yer ready"

It comes to mind now every time I hear "one, two, three, four ..."

Dave Naish, GA Class of 1960



I remember sitting at outport relatives' tables and being invited to:

"Take hold" = ("help yourself to the food")

I recall the warm conversational agreements expressed as:

"Yis maid", or disapproval by an older person as "Now me maid!”

If there is a memory to be told about, the story starts:

"I minds...." 

If you're telling an unlikely story you might be told to:

"G'wan wit'ya..." or "G'way b'y, you must be daft" or "stunned as a bat"....etc.

I guess everyone is familiar with the admonishment to:

"Stay where you're to 'til I comes where you're at!" 

Just as we are all familiar with the unfortunate search for something where we know it should be and discovering that:
 "There it was...Gone!"
Newfie Terms of Affection:  "Duck",  "Duckie",  "Me old Trout".   
And of Disaffection: "Git outta me sight!"   "May the Divil Haul Ya!" or something like that.
Doris Moss Cowley, HMA Class of  1956

Greetings everyone.

One of the recent books I've appreciated re our unique, "awful good" sayings is: "The Newfoundland Tongue" by Nellie P. Strowbridge (Flanker Press, St. John's 2008).  I found some words there I had not heard before.

I, too, delight in the  contradictory phrases as well as others. 

If we were having a good day we would say that it was "awful good".  

In the graduation write-ups (1958) my favourite saying was listed as "That's a sin" (little wonder that I went into the ministry!!). 

However, I (and we) would use it when someone said or did something that was unkind to someone else. 

"Ordinary" folk would say "that's unfair" but for us it was "that's a sin".  Frequently, I still say "jumpins" and when I do, a friend always replies "you're swearing again"!!

It would be "awful good" to do a collection of those phrases we remember and/or still continue to use. 

 Marion Pardy, GA Class of 1958



While at my son's over Christmas I read a series of books (fiction) written by Patrick Taylor.  The stories took place in Ireland and I was astounded, yet should not have been seeing as how part of my ancestry is Irish and I still have first cousins living in Ireland, to see so many of the sayings that were used in our home and the homes of extended family members.  A lot of the sayings were used on a day-to-day basis by most Ganderites at the time as well. One saying that "up alongers" and other CFA's always made Newfoundlanders the butt of the joke for was/is:

“Stay where yer to, 'til I comes where yer at.”

Today, the DOWNHOME Magazine articles contain the old sayings. Being a history buff of sorts, I have several books on, or include "old sayings."

A few of the historical sayings used by Patrick Taylor are:
*    bees knees - - - the very best
*    Between the jigs and reels - - - to cut a long story
*    bigger fish to fry - - - more important matters too           attend to
*    a few bob - - - a sum of money
*    cow's lick - - - a tuft of hair that sticks up
*    a dab hand - - - skilled at
*    dibs - - - a claim upon
*    dote on - - - to worship, adore . . i.e. a child
*    finagle - - - achieve by cunning or dubious means
*    Mausy or muggy - - -hot and humid weather

There are many others that are "impolite" and refer to parts of the body, size of the body, one's mentality, pregnancy, having a drinking poblem, etc.

Then, you have "sayings" included in books by Ray Guy, Nursery Rhymes of Newfoundland and Labrador,
*    The judge said, stand up boy, I'LL PIN YOUR EARS, You're sentenced to the MEIGLE for twenty-one

*   Come when you're called,
     Do as you're bidden,
     Go when you're told,
     And you'll not be chidden.

*   Maggie Moore behind the door,
     Shut your mouth and say no more,
     Her mother came out and gave her a CLOUT,
     And turned poor Maggie inside out.

Old Time Songs and Poetry of Newfoundland:

*    With Cluneys funnel on my pate.
      (The Kelligrew's Soiree)

      (The Emigrants Return)

Books worth reading/browsing are:
* Da Mudder Tung - - - A Cape Breton Slang Dictionary - - - But the slang within could be pure Newfoundland or "from the ould country.(Great Britain)"

* Dictionary of Newfoundland and Labrador - - A unique collection of language and lore
 The Newfoundland Tongue

 Now, before I am accused of being a ‘scopy gob’, I will send this.

         Pat Dempsey Hiscock,  HMA Class of  1956


Thanks everyone for your contributions. I certainly learned a great deal.

A reminder that an upcoming topic will be: “hand-me-downs” 

I was thinking about all those clothes we were lucky to get when someone else outgrew them. Or it could be an item  that was made for us out of something else…surely none of us was rich enough to have ‘store bought’ things all the time.

 I can remember my mother making most of the clothes my brother and I wore. And then there were the  inherited items that had to be altered.

Hems in skirts or dresses were ‘let down’, time and again. And it wasn’t unusual to have a dress with several hemlines that the iron refused to smooth out after a dress was ‘let down’. The Girl Guide uniform that I bought from someone else was like that.

One of the few store-bought clothing items that I had was a coat and a matching hat , brand new it was, from Simpson’s catalogue. It was probably one of  the least favorite outfits that I ever had to wear. As soon as I was out of the yard, that damn hat came off!! My mother loved it (probably because she didn’t have to make it).

So if you have any recollections on this topic be sure to send along and we’ll include in an upcoming ‘Faye’s Place’. The email to do so would be brfr1@verizon.net