Friday, February 29, 2008

Gommel sighting: Urban Dictionary

Urban Dictionary

1. gommel

goon,idiot, reject or mong


Gommel is the word of the week this week at REDEFiNE iT. If you're on facebook visit our group page there and if not you're welcome to hang out here. Each week we explore a word from the Dictionary of Newfoundland English along with other tangents of interest.

Introducing the Introduction: Dictionary of Newfoundland English

The following excerpt is from the Introduction to the Dictionary of Newfoundland English:

The earliest fishermen to live year-round, establish families and plant varieties of English permanently in Newfoundland settled along the east coast in the vicinity of St John's, the Southern Shore of the Avalon Peninsula as far as Trepassey, and in the coves and harbours of Conception Bay. English thus began its development here in the very early seventeenth century at about the time of the planting of the language in Virginia and New England in the American colonies. These early settlers were brought out by chartered companies administered from Bristol and London, and the evidence points to most of them coming, like the great numbers of transient fishermen, from the coastal ports and inland villages and hamlets of the English West Country: Devon, Dorset, Somerset, Hampshire and Wiltshire.6 While the official plantations collapsed around the middle of the century, some of the settlers remained, and their variety of speech was reinforced annually by the thousands of West Country migratory fishermen whose seasonal voyages to the Island had long preceded the era of permanent settlement and continued down to the early nineteenth century. The English speech planted here, therefore, was the town and rural speech of the western counties of England, and varieties of cultivated speech current in England in the seventeenth century.

The second important linguistic strain in Newfoundland speech began in the late seventeenth century with the male English- and Irish-speaking helpers or 'servants' annually carried from southeastern Ireland, mainly through the port of Waterford, at the same time as the English adventurers obtained staple foods there for the fishing season in Newfoundland. Merchants from Ireland also sent trading ships to Newfoundland.
7 The numbers of Irish servants and later of immigrants increased enormously in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries so that in some years the proportions of English to Irish in Newfoundland were about even. The mixed population at the end of the eighteenth century is well depicted by Aaron Thomas:8

As this Island has been inhabit'd for such a number of years and was peopled by British and Irish, you frequently meet with Familys whose Grandfathers were born in Newfoundland. These are what I call the Natives. They speak English but they have a manner perculiar to themselves
---the common people Lisp... for [in] every Out-harbour I viseted on conversing with the people, they would on answering my enquirys say---Yes, dat is the way' or 'O No, we tant do it so; but den we do it the other way, tafter we bring it home because it is taffer.'

There are occasional documentary references to monolingual and bilingual Irishspeaking fishermen working and settling in the island in the early years, but Irish seems never to have been established in Newfoundland and has had little influence on Newfoundland English independent of the development of Anglo-Irish in parts of Ireland itself.9

To read the rest of the Introduction to the Dictionary of Newfoundland English click here.

The Dictionary of Newfoundland English can be purchased online directly from the publisher (University of Toronto Press).

Dictionary of Newfoundland English: Second Edition with supplement Edited by G.M. Story, W.J. Kirwin, and J.D.A. Widdowson
University of Toronto Press © 1998
847pp /1 map, 3 figures

Thursday, February 28, 2008

gommil sighting: Brooklyn's Wedding: A "Gargoyles" Fan Fiction Story by Dylan P. Blacquiere

Brooklyn's Wedding
A "Gargoyles" Fan Fiction Story
by Dylan P. Blacquiere

an excerpt:

Kenny Ogden came in first, his expression happy and kind, looking nothing like he had just been forced to deal with the kid who had knocked over the baptismal font in the back of the church. He was followed by the groom, Robbie Hynes, and Carbonear noticed that he couldn't help but look nervous still. "I sees June!" Bonavista hissed.

"Yeah, well, don't be after callin' out to her, ye friggin' gommil."

Whitbourne frowned, watching the proceedings intently. As the organist played "Here Come The Bride", the ringbearer and flower girl proceeded up the aisle, followed by the best man and maid of honour and the ushers escorting the bridesmaids. "There's Jason." Carbonear announced as he strode up the aisle with a bridesmaid on his arm.

"Who's that piece he's got with him?" Whitbourne asked.

"Melanie Miller, I guesses." Woodstock shrugged.

"So where's Judy to?" Whitbourne whispered on, full of beans. His tail was flicking back and forth agitatedly as he peered to see the goings on.

"Here she comes!" Carbonear stated, watching as the bride finally entered.

To read more click here.


This Blog is brought to you by Rattling Books, a Canadian audio book publisher based in Newfoundland.

gommil sighting: in the company of gowdy gideroy

Look into it you gowdy gideroy or as a gamogue I'll replace your gumbeens with gurry, that'll be hard to glutch and you'll feel quite the gommil.

Quoted from a letter to the Timothy McSweeney Letters site
Date: 07 Jun 00 From: Thomas Gibbon Subject: Biological Destruction?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Gommil tangent: Tom Dawe's radio play The Days of Forty-Nine

Teachers on Wheels Inc. of St. John's, Newfoundland received funding from the National Literacy Secretariat HRDC to transcribe and produce a series of eight dramatized radio plays. The plays were originally broadcast on CBC radio as part of a Newfoundland and Labrador School Broadcasts program. The plays have been transcribed and produced as booklets with accompanying audio-cassettes.

The following is an excerpt from one of the above radio plays (The Days of Forty-Nine ) written by Tom Dawe .

Grandfather: Go on with you, boy. You knows as well as I do how the well-off merchants are running this country. We're like slaves to them. We always will be, if you don't change things. Joey is giving us a chance to change things, boy, and you're too stun to see that...right in front of you, as plain as the nose on your face.

Saul: Don't call me "stun"...and you, a big foolish gommil, trapsing around after that Confederation crowd. You got some nerve calling me "stun", boy. A bittern would have more sense than you.

Grandfather: Ah close your prate, boy. You thinks everything will work out all right if you shouts and bawls about it. I never seen the likes of you in all my born days. You''re ignorant as a pig, boy, you are.

Contact: Teachers on Wheels Inc.,
P.O. Box 8455, Station A
St. John's, Newfoundland A1B 3N9;
Tel.: 709-738-3975; Fax: 709-754-4418 . (97.11.18)

Format: 8 booklets and accompanying audio-cassettes (radio plays)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

REDEFiNE iT New Year's Resolution Champion Andreae Prozesky wins St. John's round of CBC Radio's Poetry Face-Off

Last night at the Ship Inn Angela Antle, host of the Weekend Arts Magazine presided over the 7th Annual CBC Radio Poetry Face-Off in St. John's, Newfoundland.

AND THE WINNER IS: Andreae Prozesky


The Contestents Were:

Leslie Vryenhoek is a writer, communications professional and occasional poet. Her work has appeared in journals and magazines, bathroom stalls and Power Point presentations across this great country. She works at Memorial University.

Andreae Prozesky writes the popular "Food Nerd" column in St. John's alternative paper The Scope, and has also written for Maisonneuve magazine and for CBC North Radio One. She has won a number of literary awards including the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts and Letters Award, the Lionel Shapiro Award for Creative Writing, and, most recently, the terribly prestigious Rattling Books/Dictionary of Newfoundland English REDEFINEiT New Year's Resolution Contest. She lives in St. John's.

Gerard Van Herk teaches linguistics at Memorial University. He used to be in a band called Deja Voodoo. He loves cheese. He once rhymed “poetry” and “below a tree”. He was also one of the judges for the terribly prestigious Rattling Books/Dictionary of Newfoundland English REDEFINEiT New Year's Resolution Contest.

Anthony Brenton’s forthcoming publications are Morning, Noon and Night in an Apartment; Music for Youngster’s Minds and Greedy Little Animal along with other writings collected over the past years. He is the self-published author of Triskaidekaphobia in St. John’s Muzak and A Book, both reflecting on his environment. Brenton lives in St. John’s Newfoundland where he thinks and loves. Anthony Brenton's latest book is Daybreak, Saint City (Trainwreck Press, 2008)

Michelle Butler Hallett was born in St. John's in 1971 and is the author of Double-blind, a novel and The shadow side of grace, a collection of short stories. Her newest short story, "Pardon-speaking Blood," is part of the anthology The Vagrant Revue of New Fiction. Two of her poems, "Demobilized" and "Meet again," were published in the spring 2007 issue of CV2, and her next novel, Sky Waves, is coming out this fall. Butler Hallett is also working on a screenplay adaptation of some of her short stories. She lives in St. John's with her husband and children.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Gommil tangent: A Gommil from Bumble Bee Bight and Other Nonsense Verse

A Gommil from Bumble Bee Bight and Other Nonsense Verse
by Dawe, Tom and Sylvia Ficken , Harry Cuff Publications Ltd., St. Johns, Newfoundland, 1982.

Martina Seifert writes of the above book by Tom Dawe:

In A Gommil From Bumble Bee Bight, Dawe tells about fortunes and misfortunes, joyful and joyless times, in short, the positive and the negative sides of life on the island. The limericks are imaginative and hilarious like "An octopus down in Old Shop, / Was snoozing on top of a lop, / When an iceberg so white, / Sidled by in the night, / And froze him into a full stop " [GB 39] or "A lad who lived out in Monroe, / Grew a fabulous wart on his toe; / But on Bonfire Night, / He set it alight, / That luminous lad from Monroe" [GB 31].

Rewriting Newfoundland Mythology: The Works of Tom Dawe
by Martina Seifert
Leipzig Explorations in Literature and Culture, volume 8
Galda & Wilch Verlag, 2002
ISBN 3931397459

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Word of the Week (Feb 24-March 1) gommil

Word of the Week (Feb 24-March 1)


gommel n also gommil JOYCE 264 gommul 'simple-minded fellow'; DINNEEN gamal 'stupid looking fellow.' Epithet for a stupid person; freq with foolish, etc; GOM. 1924 ENGLAND 221 'He must of went off his 'eed. to curse on de lightnin',' put in Arthur Roberts. 'Ondly a gommel [fool] 'd take a chance like dat.' 1937 DEVINE 25 ~ A stupid or foolish person. 1968 DILLON 143 That poor gommil, sure he don't know what you're talkin' about. C 70-11 When slightly irritated with him she calls him a foolish gommil. 1975 RUSSELL 51 'Come here,' said she, 'you foolish gommil, and help me.' Now, we invite u to RELiVE, REMEMBER and REFRESH iT and/or even REDEFiNE iT!The main thing is to RELISH iT. N.B. Any Word of the Week receiving more than 10 posts will trigger a prize from Rattling Books for our favourite.

We also invite you to visit our sister facebook group.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

RCA Theatre Company presents The Dance Party of Newfoundland February 21-March 2, 2008

RCA Theatre Company presents
The Dance Party of Newfoundland
(Jonny Harris, Steve Cochrane, Phil Churchill and Dave Sullivan)
At the LSPU Hall
February 21-March 2, 2008
Tickets $20.00

For Tickets
Phone: (709) 753 4531

Reviews of the Dance Party of Newfoundland:

'Best of the Fest Award'
2007 Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival

NOW Magazine's #5 pick for Top 10 Comedic Performances of 2007

"...this wildly inventive troupe from the Rock can make funny from pretty much anything. During their T.O. Sketch Comedy Festival set, they taught everyone how to punch up the sketch genre with theatricality, diction and attention to every hilarious detail."
- NOW magazine

“These guys are everything that’s right about sketch comedy. Daring, intelligent, edgy and beautifully performed. Definitely the next big thing to hit the national stage!”
Mark Critch - This Hour Has 22 Minutes

“Dance Party of Newfoundland blew me away. They were fantastic. Their material is sharp and the performers utterly on point.”

“Rising stars…edgy comedy.”
Misha Davenport - Chicago Sun Times

For Tickets to the current run at the LSPU Hall in St. John's, Newfoundland of the Dance Party of Newfoundland:
RCA Theatre
Phone: (709) 753 4531


Jonny Harris of the Dance Party of Newfoundland is one of the principal voices on Down to the Dirt by Joel Thomas Hynes from Rattling Books.

You can order the MP3 CD or Digital Download of Down to the Dirt or if all you want to do is hear the voice of Jonny Harris you can download the fiction single Firebug narrated by Jonny Harris.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Empter tangent: off the partridgeberry tangent - a song by Buddy Wasisname & the Other Fellas

Here's a song from Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellas that you can sing while you fill your empter with partridge berries.


Uncle Henry went to Florida to satisfy Aunt Mag
Going through the airport they x-rayed his bag
They didn't find the weapons of a hijacking man
They found thirteen bottles of partridgeberry jam.

Partridgeberry jam, partridgeberry jam
Best darn food ever known to man
Smear it knee deep on some homemade bread
Or eat it right from the jar.

to get the rest of the lyrics click here.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Empter tangent: Even Captain Cook filled his empter with partridgeberries

The Voyages of Captain James Cook Round the World
By James Cook

Published 1842

"After breakfast a party of men were sent to the peninsula for brooms and spruce. At the same time half the remainder of the people in each ship hd leave to go and pick berries. The berries to be got here were wild currant-berries, hurtle-berries, partridge-berries, and heath-berries. I also went ashore myself, and walked over part ...

....and berries of several different sorts ; such as bramble-berries, cran-berries, hurtle-berries, heath-berries, a small red berry which, in Newfoundland, is called partridge -berry; and another brown berry, unknown to us. "

So when you next fill your empter think of Captain Cook.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Empter tangent: an alternative fate for the partridge berry

Continuing on the tangent of the partridge berry which is my favorite thing to fill an empter with, we consider the partridge.

The willow ptarmigan (Lagopus lagopus alleni) known as “partridge” is the more common of the two ptarmigan species inhabiting the heathlands of insular Newfoundland and Labrador. This ground dwelling, chicken-like species is a member of the grouse family....

The most extensive food habits study of Newfoundland willow ptarmigan was carried out by Peters (1958).....

Nearly all their food is plant matter although Peters did observe adults taking some insects. Chicks up to 10 days old feed almost exclusively on insects. They take tender plant items, such as berry blossoms as soon as their bills harden....

From his food habits investigation, Peters makes the following observations:

“During early fall, berries comprise the bulk of ptarmigan food and blueberries make up over half of the total berry consumption. Other important berries are partridge berry, marshberry, ground hurts and black crowberry.”

To read more about the partridge berry eating partridge click here.

Mavis Gallant lives in French but writes in English.

"I live in French," said Gallant, a small but forceful 71-year-old, clenching her fists to emphasize her point. "But I have kept my English writing. Everything that occurs to me occurs to me in English."

The above quote is from an interview with Mavis Gallant from ten years ago that appeared in ParisVoice (the webzine for English speaking Parisians). To read the rest of the Mavis Gallant interview click here.

Mavis Gallant, the author from Quebec who left Canada some fifty years ago to seek her way as a writer in Europe is now in her '80s. This year the CBC Radio Canada Reads challenge invites a panel of three to champion a book that they think Canadians should read. Lisa Moore has chosen the Fifteenth District by Mavis Gallant.

Mavis Gallant has written more than a hundred short stories, many of them published in the New Yorker before appearing in various collections of short fiction. Some of the more autobiographical stories are found in the collection entitled Montreal Stories selected by Russell Banks. The unabridged audio edition of Montreal Stories, narrated by Margot Dionne is published by Rattling Books. It was selected by AudioFile Magazine in the as one of the 12 Best Audio Fiction titles of the year.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Empter tangent: What to SAY your're going to do with the partridge berries: Partridgeberry Gelato Profiteroles with White Chocolate Ganache Sauce

If you're a really lazy cook like me and you just like to think you might make something and then maybe you want to make someone else think you might make something and that it might just be fantastic and so really you're only going as far as saying what you're going to do with the partridgeberries in your empter - and you want to sound impressive, like someone who actually cooks, and you're still out there in the landscape (a safe distance from a kitchen) maybe wet and cold and you and your companion are primed to imagine exotic things to eat when you get home and are dry and warm - and really it doesn't mean you actually have to do it (there is that great distance still between this moment and place and the one that finds you in a kitchen) but it should sound good even ambitious (after all the wind is blowing a gale and the rain is turning to hail and you might not make it back alive and so whose to know it was a false claim) - then I suggest you say you're going to make
Partridgeberry Gelato Profiteroles with White Chocolate Ganache Sauce, the recipe for which you'll find on that wonderful blog called Rock Recipes.

Empter tangent: What to do with the partridge berries: Partridgeberry Coconut Meringue Squares

So you've filled your empter with partridge berries.

Now what?

Here is a recipe Partridgeberry Coconut Meringue Squares from a Cooking Blog called Rock Recipes.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Empter tangent: Partridge Berries (Vaccinium vitis-idaea)

My favorite thing to fill my empter with is partridge berries.

Vaccinium vitis-idaea
(source: Wikipedia)

The Vaccinium vitis-idaea – often called lingonberry or cowberry, also called foxberry, mountain cranberry, red whortleberry, lowbush cranberry, partridgeberry (in Newfoundland and Labrador and Cape Breton), and redberry (in Labrador) – is a small evergreen shrub in the flowering plant family Ericaceae that bears edible fruit.

It is seldom cultivated, but the fruits are commonly collected in the wild. The native habitat is the circumboreal forests of northern Eurasia and North America, extending from temperate into subarctic climates.

To read the rest of the Wikepedia entry on partridge berries click here.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Word of the Week (Feb 17-23): empter

Word of the Week (Feb 17-23)

This week’s word of the week was suggested by Kathleen Winter, a regular contributor to REDEFiNE iT and one of the winners of our New Year's Resolution Contest.


empter* n also emper*. See EMPT. A container used during berry-picking, emptied frequently into a larger container near the pickers. P 128-56 Have you got your empter full yet? P 140-70 Emper. Small tin or dipper used to fill a larger one. M 70-21 Each berry picker also had a smaller container, a quart can, saucepan, perhaps even a gallon can. As this 'emptier' or'emper' as we called it was filled, its contents were transferred to the buckets till these were filled to the brim.

Now, we invite u to RELiVE, REMEMBER and REFRESH iT and/or even REDEFiNE iT!

The main thing is to RELISH iT. N.B.

Any Word of the Week receiving more than 10 posts will trigger a prize from Rattling Books for our favourite.

If you're on facebook please join our REDEFiNE iT group there.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Online language sites: is a dictionary of slang, webspeak, made up words, and colloquialisms.

Memorial University's Heritage Web Site edition of the Dictionary of Newfoundland English

The Dictionary of Newfoudland English can be explored on line thanks to the Memorial University of Newfoundland's Heritage Web Site.

In 1998 and 1999 the Dictionary of Newfoundland English, 2d ed, published by the University of Toronto Press, was prepared for inclusion in Memorial University's Heritage Web Site. The material is derived from a scanned version of the 1982 text and, for the Supplement in 1990, the electronic file used to print the book. The scanned text has been proofread and most of the defective text corrected. Since the Web Site cannot efficiently reproduce the International Phonetic Alphabet, all phonetic transcriptions have been removed.

to read more visit the Memorial University's Heritage Web Site.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Dictionary of Newfoundland English Note: Lectureship in humanities established to honor George Story (MUN Gazette, 1996)

Dr. George M. Story was one of the editors of the Dictionary of Newfoundland English. We will explore something of the history of the Dictionary and it's editors and contributors through occasional notes on internet resources relating to them. Here is one to an article announcing the creation of a Lecture in honour of Dr. Story back in 1996 at Memorial University of Newfoundland.

March 7, 1996, MUN Gazette:

Lectureship in humanities established to honor George Story

By Pam Frampton

There's not much chance that the late Dr. George Story, a scholar of international repute and one of the editors of the Dictionary of Newfoundland English, will ever be forgotten at Memorial. But the chances of that happening are now even slimmer, thanks to a recent resolution by the Board of Regents which approved the establishment of an endowed lectureship in the humanities in Dr. Story's name.

The George M. Story Lecture in Humanities will be co-sponsored by the Office of the Vice-President (Research) and the Office of the Dean of Arts -- each will contribute $20,000. Approximately 75 per cent of the interest earned on the endowment will be used to pay for a small honorarium and expenses for visiting lecturers; the remaining interest earned on the fund will be re-invested. The fiscal management of the fund will be the responsibility of the university comptroller. An annual call for nominations will be made to members of the university community, with a deadline of March 1. Dr. Kevin Keough, vice-president (research) and Dr. Terry Murphy, dean of arts, will select the lecturer each year after appropriate consultation.

"It was something we undertook because George was one of the most -- if not the most -- influential scholars I've come into contact with since I've been at the university," Dr. Keough told the Gazette. "George was enormously generous in his fostering of scholarship, especially among his junior colleagues. The lectureship is intended to highlight scholarship in the humanities, to honor George, and to give members of the community the opportunity to hear distinguished, international scholars who will embody the high quality of scholarship demonstrated by George himself."

Dr. Murphy said that deciding to endow a lectureship was part of a broader exercise to honor Dr. Story's memory. A medal of excellence, the George M. Story Convocation Medal in Arts, was awarded for the first time at spring convocation 1995, to Janet Lynn Hutchings of Cow Head -- though the medal wasn't quite finished at the time. It will be awarded at the discretion of the Senate Committee on Scholarships at the dean of arts' recommendation. It is meant to reward a student graduating with a bachelor of arts who has demonstrated both academic excellence and a strong commitment to serving the university and the community -- qualities which Dr. Story displayed during his 40 years at Memorial.

Collecting for the Dictionary of Newfoundland English, G. M. Story, W. Kinvin, J. D. A. Widdowson (1973) online as a pdf

Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Volume 211 Lexicography in English Page 104-108, June 1973

G. M. Story, W. Kinvin, J. D. A. Widdowson (1973)
Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 211 (1) , 104–108 doi:10.1111/j.1749-6632.1973.tb49477.x

Unfortunately, an online subscription is required to access the actual article.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

faffering tangent: as a computer generated typo for suffering

Historical account of the most celebrated voyages, travels, and discoveries : from the time of Columbus to the present period
By William Fordyce Mavor
Originally published in 1801
Digitized with many an error in 2006

After faffering all that human nature can endure from drought, and encountering many perils, they at laft reached the Havannah, from whence ...

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

faffering tangent: The Boreal Poetry Garden Portugal Cove, Newfoundland

The Boreal Poetry Garden Portugal Cove, Newfoundland
a Project of artist Marlene Creates.

Details of Geography and Local Culture

One of the inspirations for the poetry garden is the rich Newfoundland vernacular. Its words reflect a very concrete correlation between this language and this landscape. Here are some of my favourite idioms that connect with this locale:

bawn: a meadow or grassy land near a house or settlement
faffering: of the wind, blowing with cold, chilly gusts

to visit the site and read the context from which the above is excerpted click here.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

faffering tangent: Fairy-Struck, a poem by Mary Dalton


Tea leaves and the old woman's warning:
Beware the man with gimlet eyes-
He'll sing for you a deadly tune.
The day I got the scar
The wind faffering on the water
Died into a mauzy blue calm.
We were out in the Lancers-
He swung me and spun me-
The fiddle a banshee-
One shoe slid down the shiny hall floor-
The tall world of his torn stories
And me fairy-struck:
Saw the knife in his eyes then
Spinning up out of his face,T
hin-winged, likeA devil's angel
On the hunt for blood.

Mary Dalton


Fairy Struck appears in the collection of poems by Mary Dalton entitled Merrybegot. The unabridged audio edition of Merrybegot is performed by Anita Best and Patrick Boyle and published by Rattling Books.

Monday, February 11, 2008

faffering tangent: canadian weather words

The following is an excerpt from a website dedicated to weather:

The Weather Doctor
IS FONDLY DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY OF:David Ludlum, Eric Sloane, Guy Murchie, George R. Stewart and that Transcendental Meteorologist Henry David Thoreau.

Included is a page about words for weather. The following excerpt includes a mention of "faffering":

Newfoundlanders are especially fruitful in coining unique weather words. Here are a few.

Silver glitter describes an ice storm's deposit which then becomes a silver thaw when the ice melts. Sheila's brush names a fierce wind and snowstorm striking around St Patrick's Day that is usually considered the last of the winter. Sheila, according to legend was either St Patrick's wife, sister, or mother.

Wreckhouse winds are strong gales known for blowing trains off tracks and trucks off roads. These southeasterly winds blow along the south coast of Newfoundland west of the Burin Peninsula, as far west as Port aux Basques. The Wreckhouse winds not uncommonly gust in this part of the island stronger than over the open water due to topographical convergence. Stun breezes are a bit tamer but still strong, winds over 37 km/h (23 mph or 20 knots).

On the Rock, mauzy denotes damp and warm, muggy weather, sometimes with light rain. Oppressively hot and humid weather is loggy. Misk (or misky) describes light rain or mist; or when vapour rising from the sea after a cold night (sea smoke or steam fog). Scad is a sudden and brief rain or snow shower. And with strong winds added, a scad becomes a dwigh. Scad is not to be confused with scuddy weather which is uncertain, characterized by sudden scuds or gusts of wind.

Some of the other Canadian wind-specific words include the gentle airsome wind and fairy wind, the keewatin and siwash, the nordet, the faffering, screecher and shuff, the sheelagh, farmer's fertilizer and lambkiller, and the meringue storm.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Word of the Week (Feb 10-16): faffering

Word of the Week (Feb 10-16):

This week’s word of the week comes from Alison Dyer, a regular contributor to REDEFiNE iT on facebook.


faffering v ppl also farferin'*. Cp EDD faff v 1 'to blow in sudden gusts'; SMYTH faff 'to blow in flaws.' Of the wind, blowing with cold, chilly gusts (P 95-55). P 127-76 Boy, 'tis farferin' today.

Now, we invite u to REDEFiNE iT! Or just RELiVE, REMEMBER or RENEW iT. The main thing is to RELISH iT. REFRESH iT!

N.B. Any Word of the Week receiving more than 10 posts will trigger a prize from Rattling Books for our favourite.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Ballicatter Tangent: mention on a site dedicated to the teaching of English

"...use of homegrown words or coinages: ballicatter, bawk, caplin, clumper, diddies, janny, landwash, nunny-bag, quarr, sish, stun breeze, sunker, ticklace, water-horse ..."

mention of ballicatter within a discussion topic titled "Which dialect do you speak?" on a site dedicated to the learning of English:
Learn English effectively

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Wordie [wûrd • ē] : fun site for words and phrases

Wordie [wûrd • ē]

Wordie lets you make lists of words and phrases. Words you love, words you hate, words on a given topic, whatever.

Ballicatter tangent: Wordie [wûrd • ē]

Reference to ballicatter on Wordie [wûrd • ē] :

Those last few words, barleychild, ballicatter and the others in that group...SPLENDID!

ballicatter tangent: introduction to the Dictionary of Newfoundland English

"...the seemingly endless nomenclature of seals at every stage of growth and development (bedlamer, dotard, gun seal, jar, nog-head, ragged-jacket, turner, white-coat, and a score of others); words for conditions of ice (ballicatter, clumper, quarr, sish, slob); ..."

To read the context of this dropping of "ballicatter" (our word of the week) visit the Dictionary of Newfoundland online.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Ballicatter tangent: an online arty political journal

Ballicatter is a journal devoted to creative political thought. Editions are published bi-monthly. A weekly 'Tabby' feature draws attention to the language of Internet news and opinion items.

Founded by Paul Sweeney who is currently pursuing his studies of space and time in the doctoral programme in philosophy at McMaster University, Ballicatter is organised by artists, musicians, writers, and philosophers.

Check it out.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Word of the Week at REDEFiNE iT: Dictionary of Newfoundland English (Feb 3-9): ballicatter

Word of the Week (Feb 3-9):


Definition according to the Dictionary of Newfoundland English ( :

ballicatter n, usu pl.

Variants chronologically arranged: ballicadoes, ballacarda, ballicater, balacadas, batlicaders, belly-carders, ballicatters, ballycatters, belly-catter, batlycadders, ballacarters, ballycater, ballaclauters, ballacaters, ballacatters, ballacader; [phonetics unavailable]. Note: Besides the printed forms noted above, there are manifold variants reported as single words, out of context, so that the usage actually employed by informants is often difficult to ascertain. A selection of these forms is as follows: ballacattle, ballicabber, ballicanter, balliclamper, belliclumper [see CLUMPER], balliclatter, ballicutter, billicatter, cattibatter. DC ballacater Nfld (1906-). See also BARRICADO, BARRICADE v, the prob source for the variants above.

1 Ice formed by the action in winter of spray and waves along the shore-line, making a fringe or band on the landward side. 1863 MORETON 29 Ballicadoes, Barricades. The banks of ice which form upon all water-washed rocks and shores in winter. 1896 J A Folklore ix, 36 Ballacarda—ice along the foot of a cliff touching the water. [c1900] 1978 RLS 8, p. 24 Ballicadre—ice formed along the fringe of the shore, or piled along the sides of a vessel. [1916] 1972 GORDON 59 Such ice-ledges, of which there are several around this district, are known by the people as 'Ballicatters,' which I imagine is a corrupted form of Barricades. The name applies also to the ice-fringe that remains glued to the edge of the shore when the bay ice breaks up and clears out to sea. 1955 ENGLISH 32 Ballycater—ice formed by spray on the shore. T 75/6-64 He landed him on Fogo Head, landed him on the ballacarter there. P 130-67 Bellycadder. A heavy shelf of ice along the shore caused by the rising and falling of the tide. 1971 NOSEWORTHY 170 Ballycatters or bellycatters. Ice on shore and rocks from waves and salt spray. C 71-129 Ballycarter. Ice around the shore-line. Usually it refers to ice around wharfs, stages and ballast beds. The ballycarter remains around the shore-line after the harbour or cove is ice-free in the spring. I also heard it used to describe [iced-up] rocks or headlands where hunters went to shoot sea birds. 1975 Evening Telegram 21 May, p. 6 On this day we decided to stay from school because we awoke to a silvery world of 'glitter'—the trees looked like silver filigree and the sand dunes which reached from the sea up, looked like the highway to heaven and all the beach was one shining 'ballacader.'

2 A narrow band of ice formed in winter in the salt water along the foreshore or 'landwash'; SHORE1: ~ ICE; large slabs, chunks and fragments of this ice after break-up. 1906 LUMSDEN 61 The rocks were covered with ice, and the shore was bespread with large pans of ice, high and dry-in local phraseology, 'balacadas.' 1924 ENGLAND 96 Instinct, for these animals [bears], seems faulty. Nature obviously does not warn them of the dangers of venturing out beyond the 'ballycatters,' or shore ice. 1931 Am Speech vi, 290 Belly-catter. Ice barricade: i.e. rough ice in ridges along the shore. 1949 FITZGERALD 93 Ballacarters. Ice rafted up on the foreshore. P 114-66 He slipped on a ballyclamper, and fell in the water. 1973 BARBOUR 38 Ballacatters—this is what Newfoundlanders call the rafted pans of ice on the foreshore, unmoved by the ebb and flow of the tide.

3 A floating ice-pan. 1909 BROWNE 183 Hundreds of men were standing on the 'ballicaders' with their ropes and gaffs all in readiness. 1961 Nfld Qtly Spring, p. 43 It is sixty years since I lugged that old portmanteau over the ballaclauters up Clode Sound Reach and on and on. P 43-66 The boat struck a ballycanter. C 68-4 When the ice starts to break up into pans you'll see the youngsters 'ferrying.' Each one gets on a pan of ice (the old people call them belly-caters). 1976 Daily News 2 Mar, p. 3 Jumpin' clumpers was another favourite pasttime. In some places they call it copying on bellycaters.... All it means is jumping from one ice pan to another without falling into the water.

4 Frozen moisture around the nose and mouth; cp BALLICATTER v. 1896 J A Folklore ix, 36 Ballacarda—ice about the face.

Now, we invite u to REDEFiNE iT! Or just RELiVE, REMEMBER or RENEW iT. The main thing is to RELISH iT.

Post your comments here or on REDEFiNE iT's sister facebook group.

N.B. Any Word of the Week receiving more than 10 posts will trigger a prize from Rattling Books for our favourite.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Turns out if was a Yaffle of Poets that won the New Year's Resolution Contest!

It turns out that all the winners of our recent New Year's Resolution Contest are serious wordsmiths. Here's a little about each of them:

Grand Prize Winner:

Andreae Prozesky

Andreae Prozesky is the Food Nerd at the Scope. She writes a weekly column about food with many a meander aside to refresh the palate.
She is also working on a collection of poems Sparrows from Sparks.

Runners-Up (in alphabetical order):

Don McKay

Don McKay is the author of eleven books of poetry, most recently Strike/Slip which won the Griffen Poetry Prize in 2007.

Sigurbjörg Þrastardóttir

Sigurbjörg Þrastardóttir is a journalist, novelist, playwright and poet living in Reykjavík.

Kathleen Winter

Kathleen Winter has written a weekly column for the Telegram forever. Her recent collection of fiction boYs won the Metcalf-Rooke Award.


You can read all four of the winning entries here.


The New Year's Resolution Contest was based on using 14 words from the Dictionary of Newfoundland English that had previously appeared as Word of the Week on the facebook group REDEFiNE iT. Both the facebook group and the contest were sponsored by