Wednesday, July 30, 2008

britches sighting: Iceland, 1809

This excerpt comes from William Jackson Hooker's Journal of a Tour in Iceland in the Summer of 1809. You can read the whole book here.

Fresh, or soft fish, such as may be considered good merchandize, should be delivered immediately after being taken out of the sea, and untainted; nor must there be any lean or skin-fish among it. The heads must be cut off, the entrails taken out, the fish properly split, in such a manner that the bone be taken out three joints below the navel, and the scales of the cole-fish must be scraped off. Such fish as can be used for dried fish, must be salted immediately on being caught, with the necessary quantity of French salt, or some other sort equally useful. It should be well cleansed, and afterwards properly cured, according to the Newfoundland mode, in such a manner that it may obtain the proper appearance, and keep well. The neck, and every thing about the neck, must likewise be cut away, before it receives the last day's drying. The dried fish must be well worked and thoroughly dried, and not mouldy, rotten, slimy, or maggotty. The neck must be cut off when it is half dried, or at least before it is received and weighed. The fresh cod-roe must be delivered immediately on its being taken out of the fish, the breeches must be whole, and the roe of a red color, firm, and not spawning. The oil must be clear and clean, and leave no sediment.


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Sunday, July 27, 2008

July 27 - August 2 Word of the Week: britches

July 27 - August 2 Word of the Week


Definition according to the Dictionary of Newfoundland English:

breeches n pl also britches, britchet(s), britchin'(s) [phonetics unavailable]. OED breech sb 6 pl 'roe of a cod-fish' obs (1688).

Cod-fish roe and the ovarian membrane which contains it.

P 94-57 Britches: cod roe, so-called from shape.

P 148-65 The lady fish wear the britches!

1968 Avalon Penin of Nfld 58 Britchins: cod roes.

C 71-100 'Them britches, lights, and sounds are some good,' said Uncle John, 'when fresh caught and fried in scrunchions.'

1975 The Rounder Sep, p. 12 'Britches' consist of the egg sacks of the female cod, and are named for their resemblance to a pair of baggy trousers.

And from the online supplement:

breeches n pl Anglo-Manx Dialect britches 'the roe of a [cod] fish.'

1989 Evening Telegram 4 July, p. 13 I mean good fresh northern cod: steak, scrod, cheek and tongues, britches, tomcods, sounds, any part of the fish, provided it was to be fried, stewed with scrunchions, or stuffed and baked.

Now, we invite you 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 facebook group .

The word of the week is released each Sunday morning on the Newfoundland and Labrador CBC Radio program Weekend Arts Magazine with host Angela Antle.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

quintal sightings: India and beyond

A yaffle of world-wide quintal usages, with a special tangent on Indian weights and measures, via e-mail from Stephen Keller.


Sent: Sunday, July 20, 2008 7:18 AM
Subject: quintal

used to occasionally hear it in india. no more though.

from american heritage dictionary:

quin·tal (kwntl)
n. Abbr. ql. or q.

1. A unit of mass in the metric system equal to 100 kilograms.
2. See hundredweight.

[Middle English, a unit of weight, from Old French, from Medieval Latin quintle, from Arabic qinr, from Late Greek kentnarion, from Late Latin centnrium (pondus), hundred (weight), from Latin centnrius, of a hundred. See centenary.]

in the u.s.a. the quintal is sometimes is 100 /_pounds_/ (quintal = hundredweight, cwt, short hundredweight, centner, cental, quintal )
a United States unit of weight equivalent to 100 pounds

and elsewhere it's 100 kg!

better make sure the guy you're bargaining with understands what you mean!

further research indicates it's used locally in many parts of the world just to signify a hundredweight of whatever the local unit of weight was.


quintal (q) [1]
a traditional unit of weight in France, Portugal, and Spain. Quintal
is also the generic name for a historic unit used in commerce
throughout Europe and the Arab world for more than 2000 years. The
unit began as the Latin centenarius, meaning "comprised of 100"
because it was equal to 100 Roman pounds. The centenarius passed
into Arabic as the cantar or qintar and then returned to Europe
through Arab traders in the form quintal. The German zentner and
English hundredweight are familiar forms of this same unit in
northern Europe. The traditional French quintal equaled 100 livres
(48.95 kilograms or 107.9 pounds), but today the word "quintal" in
France usually means a larger metric unit (see next entry). The
Spanish quintal is 100 libras (about 46 kilograms or 101 pounds).
The Portuguese quintal is larger; it is equal to 128 libras (about
129.5 pounds or 58.75 kilograms). "Kwintal" is the English
pronunciation given in standard English dictionaries, but "kintal"
(closer to the Spanish pronunciation) and "kantal" (closer to the
French) are also used.
quintal (q) [2]
a common metric unit of mass equal to 100 kilograms or approximately
220.4623 pounds. Notice that the metric ton is roughly equal to its
non-metric predecessors, but the metric quintal is about twice the
size of the traditional quintal.

since it comes from the latin and is connected to pre-revolutionary france's livre and kg. didn't come into existence until the french revolution, a hundredweight would seem the best usage, even if it does create cross-national confusion.

and to further muddy the waters let's not forget its cousin the qintar:

a traditional Arabic unit of weight, often called the cantar in
English. The qintar is the Arabic counterpart of the European
quintal (see below). The unit varied in size from market to market
and over time. In recent years, the qintar has been interpreted as
an informal metric unit equal to 50 kilograms (110.23 pounds);
traditional qintars tended to be a few percent larger than this. The
qintar is equal to 100 rotls.

in the indian subcontinent and in southeast asia too, many measures were variable, sometimes within a single administration, so before modern times many measures might have a single name and not be exactly the same.

this was common --- and in laos for example still is --- with regard to units of agricultural land (area). in many parts of laos the unit of area was that amount of land that would produce so many local containers (also of variable size) of rice. no wonder i was frequently confused, eh?

used to be that distances in third-world countries were variable too, since no one had an odometer and there were no mile- or km-posts. even today in rural india "how far is it to X?" will as often as not be answered in terms of how long it will take to walk there. but, since the person telling you has no way of measuring time either, the answer is frequently unhelpful. most infuriating before one becomes used to vagueness is the common reply: "only two furlongs" (1/8 of a mile). that response seems to have nothing to do with reality and can mean just about anything from a ten minute walk to several hours away. probably it means "go away and leave me alone".

even today measures change. a /tola/ in india really indicates a hair less than 11-2/3 grams (11.664 grams to be exact). the tola was what a silver rupee in the times of the raj weighed. silver rupees are long gone but that measure is still used more or less for precious metals. however, for spices, /_intoxicant drugs_/ and many other items the tola has been approximated downward (to the benefit of the shopkeeper or vendor or dealer) to 10 grams. you can fight for 11.664 grams but increasingly you'll get the reply, "that was then, this is now" ... "besides who can find all those tiny weights for fractional grams?" inflation everywhere these days! i doubt if digital scales will bring back the tola.

if this isn't enough, check out this website:

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

quintal sighting: learning the metric system in St.Pierre

CBC Radio One's Weekend Arts Magazine host Angela Antle received this message after quintal was introduced as the Word of the Week:

Hi Angela,

When I was going to school in St Pierre quintal was taught to us along with the metric system, the symbol was q ; the plural in French is "quintaux";

quintal from Arabic quintar (quintar)
in the metric system = 100 kg
no longer used except in Latin America where it is used in the commerce of cotton

Bonne journée
Jacqueline Park

Monday, July 21, 2008

quintal sighting: American salt cod on the Newfoundland market in 1877

An intriguing excerpt from the Award of the Fishery Commission, Documents and Proceedings of the Halifax Commission, 1877, under the Treaty of Washington. Read the whole document here.

Q. Are you aware as to any practice on the part of the American bank or deep-sea fishermen of throwing small fish overboard? — A. Yes; I have been on many occasions told they always threw the small fish overboard — fish under 22 inches in length, they told me. These fish were not suited to their market and were thrown overboard. That had been their practice, I know, for years.
Q. Since the operation of the Washington Treaty, what practice has grown up with regard to those small fish ? — A. They save the fish now and bring them into Newfoundland market, and sell them there at from $1.50 to $2 per quintal.
Q. And over, I believe ? — A. I believe so, but I speak within the mark when I say from $1.50 to $2 per quintal. The quantity each vessel would catch would be about 200 quintals. That is, the quantity every vessel would otherwise have thrown overboard would be 200 quintals.
Q. How do you get your information ? — A. I got it through the captain of an American vessel.
Q. His estimate was that every American banker would throw overboard 200 quintals? — A. About 200 quintals of small fish during a successful voyage. [ . . . ] there is a duty on fish brought into Newfoundland of $1.30 per quintal, which the American fishermen are now relieved of under the Washington Treaty.
Q. Figure that amount up, supposing the vessels to number 300. — A. 300 vessels at 200 quintals each vessel, would be 60,000 quintals of fish, which at $1.30 per quintal would give $78,000 as the amount of duty saved by 300 sail of vessel on fish brought into Newfoundland. There is also the value of the fish which would be thrown overboard if the American fishermen were not permitted to bring it into the Newfoundland market. At the low estimate of $1.50 per quintal the amount would be $90,000; and at $2, $120,000.
Q. That fish is very lightly salted ?— A. It is lightly salted; they salt it to meet the Newfoundland market; they formerly threw it away. So soon as they discovered there was a market for the small fish, that it was well adapted for the Brazils, they immediately salted it lightly, as the Newfoundland manner is, for sale in Newfoundland. They would otherwise have thrown it away.
Q. What quantity of salt would be used on that fish — 100 quintals? —A. About 12 hogsheads to 100 quintals.
Q. How much is it per hogshead? — A. The price in Newfoundland is about 7s. per hogshead.
Q. Then, I suppose, there is the labor of putting it down into salt, which would be comparatively trifling? — A. The oil would pay well for salt and labor. I have not computed the value, but it is the usual computation in Newfoundland that the oil pays handsomely for salt and labor of salting the fish.
Q. But the oil would be saved whether the fish were thrown overboard or not? — A. That I cannot speak of.
Q. Presuming the small fish were thrown overboard immediately they were taken out of the water, and the livers were not saved, you say the oil in the small fish would pay for the salt and labor used in curing them ? — A. Undoubtedly, it would handsomely pay for them.
Q. Then you arrive at the conclusion that the value of that fish sold to Newfoundland, heretofore thrown away, is clear profit to the American fishermen? — A. There is no doubt about that. I have no doubt that the remission of duties on that quantity of fish is far larger than the remission of duty on all products sent by Newfoundland to the United States market.


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quintal sighting: Michael Crummey's Hard Light

This excerpt from "Making the Fish" by Michael Crummey appears in Hard Light, first published in 1998 by Brick Books.

The Bawn

Wait for a fine day in August. Sweep a stretch of beach clear, put stones down over any patch of grass that might spoil the fish.
The salt cod taken from the bins and washed by hand in puncheon tubs, front and back, like a child about to be presented to royalty, the white scum scrubbed of the dark layer of skin. Carried to the bawn on fish bars and laid out neatly in sunlight, 150 quintals at a time, the length of the shoreline like a well-shingled roof.
Two fine days would finish the job, a week and a half to cure the season's catch. The merchant's ship arriving in September, anchoring off the Tickle; the cured cod loaded into the boat and ferried out.

What It Made

You could expect $2 a quintal for your trouble, a good season for a crew was 400 quintals. Anything more was an act of God. The Skipper took half a voyage, out of which he paid the girl her summer's wage, and squared up with the merchant for supplies taken on credit in the spring. The rest was split three ways, $130 for four months of work, it could cut the heart out of a man to think too much about what he was working for.


Want to hear more? Hard Light: 32 Little Stories, narrated by Michael Crummey, Ron Hynes, and Deidre Gillard-Rowlings, is available from Rattling Books.

"quintal" according to Wikipedia

The folks at Wikipedia have this to say about quintal:

The quintal or centner is a historical unit of mass with many different definitions in different countries, but usually it is 100 base units of mass, e.g. pounds.

Both terms share their roots in the Classical Latin centenarius, meaning hundredlike, but the quintal has a convoluted etymology: It became Late Latin centenarium pondus, then in succession, Late Greek, kentenarion, Arabic, qintar, Mediæval Latin, quintale, and finally Old French quintal before passing into the English language. The word centner, on the other hand, is just a Germanicized form of centenarius.

The unit was and still is used in the Arab world, where it is known as the qintar. It is currently defined informally as 50 kg. The qintar was reimported to Europe by traders.

In France it used to be defined as 100 livres (pounds), about 48.95 kg, and has later been redefined as 100 kg (mesures usuelles), thus called metric quintal with symbol q. In Spain it is still defined as 100 libras, or about 46 kg, and in Portugal as 128 libras or about 58.75 kg. In English both, quintal and centner, were once alternate names for the hundredweight and thus defined either as 100 lb (exactly 45.359237 kg) or as 112 lb (about 50.84 kg). Also, in Dominican Republic it is about 125 lb.


The Word of the Week is brought to you, as always, by Rattling Books, where you will find at least a quintal of quality audio books, some quirky, some quiescent, some queerly querulous. Tales of quixotic quests, of quotidian quietude, and of the odd quick-and-dirty quid pro quo. The very quiddity of literary recording, to quell your quavering and quash your qualms.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

July 20 - July 27 Word of the Week: quintal

July 20 - July 27 Word of the Week


Definition according to the Dictionary of Newfoundland English:

quintal n also cantal, kental, kintal(l) [phonetics unavailable]. OED ~ a. 'a hundredweight (112 lbs.)' (c1470-); DAE 'esp in measuring fish' (1651-); DC 1 esp Nfld (1712-) for senses 1, 2.

1 A measure of cod-fish caught by fishermen.

[1664] 1963 YONGE 67 Having sold our salt, and caught about 130 kentals of fish, for our 5 boats, we took aboard our trade and sailed for Torbay.

[1676] 1895 PROWSE 206 300 kintalls for each boat one year with another accounted with them an ordinary voyage.

[1711] 1745 OSBORNE 794 [The French] have also salt, and some fishing craft, cheaper than us; and generally kill one or two hundred quintals per boat more than the English kill.

1787 PENNANT Sup 45 A banking vessel of ten thousand fish ought to be filled in three weeks, and so in proportion; and eighty quintals (112 lb. each) for a boat in the same time.

1888 STEARNS 185 'How much is a quintal?' asked Allic. 'Oh, a quintal is different, according,' laughed Mr Godard. 'It's 212 pounds of wet fish, just out of the water, and, as fish shrink one-half in drying, it's 112 pounds of dry fish. We measure all our fish, dry or wet, by quintals, because that's the way we sell it.

1912 CABOT 79 The Spracklins had a few hundred quintals (said 'kintle') of fish, taken in the last few days.

1966 FARIS 221 The amount of catch each time is measured roughly in 'drafts' or 'quintals,' simply by visual judgment. Fishermen can see a boat approaching, and judge by the amount of water the boat is drawing how far down it is in the water the number of drafts (or quintals) of fish caught.

2 A measure of dried and salted cod-fish ready for the market; 112 lbs (50.8 kg); cp DRAFT.

1623 WHITBOURNE 79 The foresaid two hundred thousand of Fish, loading the said ship, it will then make at Marseiles aboue two and twenty hundred Kentalls of that waight.

[1698] CHILD 222 The current price of our Fish in that Country, was ... seventeen Rials which is eight shillings six pence per Quintal.

1787 PENNANT Sup 46 A heap of dried fish twenty feet long, and ten wide, and four deep, contains three hundred quintals. Such an heap settles, in the course of forty-eight hours after it is made, about 1/12th.

[1806] 1951 DELDERFIELD 82 Most interesting is an account of the sale of 1,147 Portuguese quintals of Newfoundland fish in 1806. It was listed:- '661 Qtls large, 208 Qtls small, 278 Qtls dumb, wet and broken.'

1882 TALBOT 13 About one hundred twenty fishes of fair size go to make up a hundredweight [or quintal] of dry or cured fish. T 36/8-64 And when the tub was full they'd have an idea how much fish they had—a tub would hold about a kantal; that would be a hundred and twelve pounds. T 41-64 A hundred and twelve pounds [would be] a quintal o' fish, dried fish.

1977 Inuit Land Use 332 [Fish] would be about $1.50 a quintal then. A quintal used to be 112 pounds. We worked hard for that.

3 A measure (of bread, flour, seal 'pelts', bark, etc); 100 or 112 pounds of a commodity.

1813 CARSON 15 One hundred and forty thousand quintals of bread and flour, are required for the support of the people in this island.

1895 Outing xxvii, p. 23 The values [of the sculps] range from $2.75 to $5.50 per quintal, the old hoods bringing the lowest and the pups the highest prices.

1916 MURPHY 19 [In 1859] the crew of the Zambesi made £40 19s a man, seals fetched 27 shillings per quintal and the rise.

1924 ENGLAND 248 Not so many years ago—three thousand sealers struck for a minimum of $5 a quintal for their fat.

1944 LAWTON & DEVINE 79 This Company paid the sealers one dollar and twenty-five cents per quintal more than was offered by Bowring Brothers. T 66-64 In the summer time when there'd be no fish, they'd go rining. Birch rine was a dollar a quintal. 4 Attrib quintal drum, ~ fish drum: wooden container holding 112 lbs of dried and salted cod fish; DRUM. T 90-64 There was the quintal drum with twenty inches and the sixteen-inch head.

1977 RUSSELL 51 He was goin' to earn a few cents with it, by making it into a quintal fish-drum like they used to use in those days for the Brazil market. quintal faggot: 'pile' of dried cod-fish weighing 112 lbs; FAGGOT. T 36-64 Providing the next day was fine, you'll enlarge on your faggot [till] you got it in quintal faggots.

And from the online Supplement:

quintal n also kantle.

1 1931 Can Geog J ii, 399 In one year these hardy men took about 500,000 'kantles' of cod (a quintal is 112 pounds).

1983 WARNER 26 A thousand cantles...we fished, and we were all in the family for crew.

2 1987 POWELL 34 In late September my crew and I got the last of our codfish sun-dried. After it was all weighed we had a little less than two hundred quintals, 112 pounds per quintal.

3 1987 Evening Telegram 27 Apr, p. 7 The pelts were all weighed by the quintal. Then there were deductions of the weight of the fat for scraps of meat that was left on the [seal] pelts.

4 Comb ~ drum. 1987 FIZZARD 160 'We had several makes of barrels. There'd be half-quintal drums, quintal drums [etc].'

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 facebook group .

The word of the week is released each Sunday morning on the Newfoundland and Labrador CBC Radio program Weekend Arts Magazine with host Angela Antle.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Beat as a nautical term

The Lachlan & Elizabeth Macquarie Archive (LEMA) Project is an electronic gateway aimed at providing a new context for the historical investigation of the lives and times of Lachlan Macquarie (1761-1824), and his second wife, Elizabeth Campbell (of Airds) (1778-1835).

Nautical Terms

A select list of nautical and historical terms as applicable to late C18th and early C19th usage.

Our word of the week, beat appears in the glossary on the above site as follows:

Beat (or beat up): (of a ship) to work to windward by successive tacks; to proceed obliquely tro windward with the wind first on one side and then on the other.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

July 13 - July 19 Word of the Week: beat

July 13 - July 19 Word of the Week


Definition according to the Dictionary of Newfoundland English:

beat v Cp OED ~ v1 19 naut 'to strive against contrary winds or currents at sea' for sense 1; 3: beat the streets (1375-1587), EDD v2 1 (6) So D for phr in sense 2. 1 Of a herd of animals, esp seals, to move instinctively in a certain direction; to migrate.

1866 WILSON 316 In the autumn, or near winter, [the deer] migrate, or, as the hunters say, they 'beat to the south,' and go near Cape Ray or the Bay of St George.

1924 ENGLAND 239 Wary at last, beating north and ever northward, the vast herd—decimated but still incredibly numerous—is on the trek to the far places where men cannot pursue.

1947 TANNER 493 The mother at last forces the remaining pups to take to the water, a mysterious instinct at once teaches them to go north, and by the end of May these 'beating seals' have mostly passed along the Labrador coast. P 102-60 [They have] fresh seal meat, as early in May the seals beating their way north from the Gulf would trim the shore.

2 Phr beat the paths/streets/roads:to be out at night. P 97-66 You're beating the paths again!

1972 MURRAY 157 Decent girls did not 'beat the roads' till 'all hours of the night.' bet/beaten to a snot: completely exhausted. 1970 Evening Telegram 17 July, p. 2 I'm fair bet to a snot.

And from the online Supplement:

beat v

1 1985 Canadian Sealers Association 6 'After the young seals become 6 to 8 weeks old, they start their journey north, which is known as beating their way north.'

2 Phr 1977 MOAKLER 138 We pulled our dory, sleeping as we rowed/...The sunset found us chilled and be't to snots.

1987 KIMIECIK 99 '"On the roads," "beating the paths," "on the prowl," all describe the custom of just going out and walking around, at night, either with a girl or looking for one.'

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.

The word of the week is released each Sunday morning on the Newfoundland and Labrador CBC Radio program Weekend Arts Magazine with host Angela Antle.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Firk sighting: Urban Dictionary

The Urban Dictionary has four suggested contemporary urban meanings for our word of the week: "firk"

Acronym describing somoene as Funny Intelligent Responsible/Respectful and Kind
"You know what kind of boyfriend you need, a FIRK!!!"
firrk funny intelligent responsible respectful kind

2. firk
not smart, useless, not appropriate.
That kid's a firk, you're a firk.
dumb stupid smart inappropriate jerk

3. firk
A word that means the same as 'expel' in schools or universities.
The school firked him for doing drugs.

4. firk
Polite variation used in place of fuck. Used around older relatives and in the workplace.
Sally, go tell Peterman he firked that logistics report all up! I need it done again, pronto!


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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Firk sighting: Free online Dictionary

Firk according to the Free Online Dictionary

v. t.1.
To beat; to strike; to chastise.
I'll fer him, and firk him, and ferret him.
- Shak.

v. i.1.
To fly out; to turn out; to go off.
A wench is a rare bait, with which a man
No sooner's taken but he straight firks mad.B.Jonson.

A freak; trick; quirk.

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, published 1913 by C. & G. Merriam Co.


REDEFiNE iT: Dictionary of Newfoundland English is brought to you by Rattling Books, a Canadian audio book publisher based in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

July 6 - July 13 Word of the Week: firk

July 6 - July 13 Word of the Week


Definition according to the Dictionary of Newfoundland English:

firk v OED ~ 3 b obs for sense 1; EDD ~ 1, 'move in a jerking manner; to scratch.'

1 To move about quickly, aimlessly.

1937 DEVINE 21 ~ to bustle about. 'What's the old man firkin' about there?' P 245-57 Firking around—pottering about.

2 Esp of fowl and other birds, to scratch, dig, stir up (something). P 148-63 To cool off in the grass: 'The hens are firkin.'

P 10-64 Get the besom and firk the dirt.

M 68-22 We made our false faces and firked out all the old clothes we could find for mummering.

C 70-21 If someone is nosy or is known to be always poking in where's he's not wanted he is said to 'be firking around.'

C 71-16 He came upon a big flock of crows ferkin' in the dust.

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 where we explore tangents on the Word of the Week.

The word of the week is released each Sunday morning on the Newfoundland and Labrador CBC Radio program Weekend Arts Magazine with host Angela Antle.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Maiden Vein Tangent: Blue Moon Pottery, St. John's Newfoundland

No, darling, there is no blue moon in the Maiden Vein.

But on the edge of North America, hanging over the Narrows of St. John's harbour on the eastern extremity of the island of Newfoundland, up a windy narrow road out of that fair city's downtown, down a steep hill around a bend up a hill and around another bend across from a house-of-interesting-things-on-the-cliff and through a door next to a beautifully painted mailbox is the Blue Moon Pottery of Isabella St. John.

And there, my darling, you will find many beautiful things.

Maiden Vein tangent: Milky Way tour stop 4 - Redefining the Milky Way: 2 Arms not 4?

This week's word of the week from the Dictionary of Newfoundland English is Maiden Vein which refers to the Milky Way.

Milky Way Loses Two of Four Arms
Thursday, June 05, 2008
By Jeanna Bryner

For decades, astronomers have pictured our galaxy as sporting four major, spiral arms.
But new images effectively sever two appendages, revealing the Milky Way has just two major arms.

"We're not proposing that they change the positions of the arms," said Robert Benjamin of the University of Wisconsin, Whitewater. "What we're proposing is a change in the emphasis of the arms."
• Click here to visit's Space Center.

Benjamin will present his team's results Wednesday here at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS).
The results are among a handful of presentations at the meeting to paint an evolving picture of our galactic home base.

Read the rest here.


REDEFiNE iT: Dictionary of Newfoundland English is brought to you by the Newfoundland based audio book publisher Rattling Books.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Maiden Vein tangent: Milky Way tour stop 3 - Bolivia

This week's word of the week from the Dictionary of Newfoundland English is Maiden Vein which refers to the Milky Way.

Using the stars to predict the weather.
From Newfoundlanders and the Maiden Vein to Bolivians and Pleiades

Maiden Vein - Milky Way Tour - Stop 3

Science And Folklore Converge In Andean Weather Forecasts Based On The Stars
By Kurt Sternlof

"The constellation Pleiades, also called the Seven Sisters" © Anglo-Australian Observatory/Royal Observatory, Edinburgh.

Toward the end of every June, indigenous farmers in the high Andes of Bolivia and Peru look to the stars for a hint of what the weather holds six months down the road. If the 11-star constellation known as the Pleiades appears bright and clear in the pre-dawn sky, they anticipate early, abundant rains and a bountiful potato crop. If the stars appear dim, however, they expect a smaller harvest and delay planting in order to reduce the adverse impact of late and meager precipitation.

In a paper published in the Jan. 6 issue of Nature, a team of scientists from the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory examine this centuries-old practice to reveal the science behind the folklore. Not only does the technique work reasonably well, it turns out that the farmers have in effect been forecasting El Niño for at least 400 years, a capability modern science achieved less than 20 years ago.

Read the Rest here.


REDEFiNE iT: Dictionary of Newfoundland English is brought to you by the Newfoundland based audio book publisher Rattling Books.

Maiden Vein tangent: Milky Way tour stop 2 - StarChild

This week's word of the week from the Dictionary of Newfoundland English is Maiden Vein which refers to the Milky Way.

Stop 2 of this week's Maiden Vein - Milky Way Tour:

The Milky Way explained for kids at

The Milky Way is over 100,000 light-years wide. It is called a spiral galaxy because it has long arms which spin around like a giant pinwheel. Our Sun is a star in one of the arms. When you look up at the night sky, most of the stars you see are in one of the Milky Way arms.
Before we had
telescopes, people could not see many of the stars very clearly. They blurred together in a white streak across the sky. A myth by the ancient Greeks said this white streak was a "river of milk". The ancient Romans called it the Via Galactica, or "road made of milk". This is how our galaxy became known as the Milky Way.


REDEFiNE iT: Dictionary of Newfoundland English is brought to you by the Newfoundland based audio book publisher Rattling Books.