Dictionary of Newfoundland English

Preface to the Second Edition (April 1990)

The Dictionary which appeared in November 1982 and was subsequently thrice re-issued was based on materials which had been assembled during the several decades preceding its publication and the volume represented a selection from a file of evidence considerably larger than that which we presented in print. The principles the selection was based on are set forth in the opening section of the original Introduction (Scope of the Dictionary) in which, discussing the place of the regional lexicon within the world community of English, we indicated our particular search for words and idioms which appear to have been recorded first, or solely, in Newfoundland; words characteristically Newfoundland by having continued in use here after they died out or declined elsewhere, or by having acquired a different form or developed a different meaning, or by displaying a distinctly higher or more general degree of use. We might, for the benefit of the unexpectedly broad readership which appears to have found the Dictionary of interest, have phrased these principles in another way as well, by indicating briefly the kinds of lexical usage current in Newfoundland but deliberately excluded from our published record.

The Dictionary omits, under our guiding principles, that part of the vocabulary common to the general English-language speech-community, hence no main entry for Felis catus, but half a dozen cat entries or cross-references in other senses; no entry for Canis familiaris, but a dozen dog entries in assorted senses, collocations and combinations common to the region, and many other articles (labrador dog, newfoundland dog, water dog) for particular breeds principally associated with Newfoundland and Labrador. Such exclusions need no more than a bare mention here, but there are others which, because they involve words which frequently appear only in the largest and most comprehensive dictionaries, or in the great national dictionaries of English-speaking countries, or in specialized technical dictionaries, may not always be immediately recognized as of such widespread international or North American currency as to place them beyond the proper bounds of a rigorous regional dictionary. A large part of the task of editing our collections has been the winnowing process described in the Introduction and illustrated in Figure 1 (p. xiii) displaying how we handled such a large and diverse corpus of evidence. What needs to be remembered is that many of the activities around which a people's vocabulary develops and grows are introduced to particular regions from outside and therefore frequently come equipped with a specialized terminology which may, of course, be modified and adapted in local use but is rarely replaced. This is particularly true of introduced modern industrial operations: mining, logging and paper-making, for example, the industrial deep-sea fishery, oil exploration and exploitation and the like; and while all but the latter (too recent in Newfoundland to have given rise to any discernible local linguistic creations) have left their mark in special verbal invention or adaptations which of course the Dictionary records, just as often we have excluded other words because they are as common in similar industries elsewhere as they are in Newfoundland and therefore belong to the domain of general lexicography.

In its scope, then, the present Supplement, which appears with a reissue of the 1982 work, has been compiled generally upon the same principles as the Dictionary of which it is an expansion and consolidation.

The sources upon which it rests are also, in general, of the kinds drawn upon in the earlier work: printed books and journals, manuscript material, and oral evidence in the form of tape-recordings and transcriptions, and field records, though the proportions of these differ somewhat from those indicated in the Dictionary (see Figure 3, p. xxvi). Central to the Supplement have been the full original Dictionary files. These have been thoroughly reviewed, particularly the material only partly used for the 1982 work: the substantial file of questionable items withheld earlier because many seemed insufficiently attested to warrant being published in authoritative form but which subsequent reports now authenticate; and occasionally the file of withdrawn words which, re-examined for one reason or another, we have been led to change our minds about including. (In a small number of instances we have also now suggested withdrawing a few entries from the Dictionary.)

More important, however, is the fresh material that has been gathered since the original work went to press: field notes from another decade of collecting; transcription of tape-recordings (often from unexcerpted tapes of interviews with informants already named in the 1982 publication, but with others as well); and, in proportions somewhat greater than in the Dictionary, printed evidence, augmented by fresh historical manuscripts. These are incorporated in the chronological list of printed sources, stretching from the late fifteenth century onward. The printed quotations draw from time to time on some works used in the earlier Dictionary but also come from many others available to us for the first time, particularly works which have been published since the Dictionary left our hands towards the end of 1980. The steady increase of printed material relating to Newfoundland and Labrador which began in the 1940s continued unabated during the 1980s so that when, between January 1988 and April 1990, the Supplement was being written we were able to draw upon a large corpus of poems, fiction, personal reminiscence, biography, history, technical reports and specialist studies, as well as contemporary newspapers, as we monitored the language and selected the evidence for presentation. This is not the place to draw in a formal way the conclusions this recently available material suggests, except to remark that we find little evidence of the retreat of the traditional vocabulary which is so often predicted and that many regional writers are actively extending the metaphoric uses of the Newfoundland vocabulary.

The presentation of the dictionary articles in this Supplement follows, with some necessary and mostly self-evident exceptions, that of the Dictionary. New entries appear in precisely the manner of the parent work: the Main Word in bold type, variant spellings where they exist, part of speech, comparative evidence on occasion, definitions, and illustrative quotations from printed and oral sources. There are scores of these new entries in the Supplement throughout the whole alphabetical range from a- to zosweet, and many hundreds if one also reckons the numerous additional phrases and new combinations, each with its definition and illustration. Readers should also note the considerable number of articles which present substantial revisions of entries in the Dictionary made possible by fresh evidence; examples include bakeapple, catamaran, jackatar, killick.

A large proportion of the Supplement articles, however, fall into another category and it is one which may be included for any one of a number of reasons. Most frequent is that the additional data enables us to antedate, post-date, or fill out intervening evidence with fresh quotations now added to the record. Some of these are historically of considerable importance, enabling us to push back the date of earliest occurrence by a century or more (desperate, mosquito, scattered), or to find in recent literature an item not previously recorded in modern times (e.g. chinsing, filling, papoose, post). All of them enable us to present a more complete word history, and in the simplest examples the form of presentation is restricted to that purpose, the definition is not repeated from the Dictionary nor is other material from the headnote of the entry given again. Sometimes, however, the discovery of further quotations has also enabled us to revise or refine the earlier definition, and this may be signalled by a definition beginning 'Also:', or else by a newly numbered sense. Frequently we have been able to record additional material helpful in relating the Newfoundland term to usage elsewhere, as when we now add to the evidence of the English Dialect Dictionary (1905) data from the southwest counties presented in the Survey of English Dialects of Orton and Wakelin (1967). The 1980s have been remarkable for either the completion or the launching of a number of major English dictionaries: hence the Supplement systematically records in the headnotes relevant material from such recent works as the Dictionary of Bahamian English (1982), volume I of the Dictionary of American Regional English (1985), The Australian National Dictionary (1988), the Dictionary of Prince Edward Island English (1988), as well as the final two volumes of A Supplement to the Oxford English Dictionary (1982, 1986) and the Oxford English Dictionary, Second Edition (1989).

Readers of the Supplement should understand that the form of entries is necessarily varied, and although many of the articles are complete and self-explanatory, others call upon an interested reader to consider them in light of the main Dictionary entry which is being supplemented in the present work; comparison of one with the other is, therefore, a recommended systematic procedure.

Since the appearance of the Dictionary, colleagues and readers have offered comments and quotations and answered questions on matters in specialized fields. Without this freely given assistance, many fine points in the Supplement would not be so confidently treated. The editors express their gratitude to the following: at Memorial University of Newfoundland to Frederick A. Aldrich, Raoul Andersen, Donald R. Bartlett, Tom Dawe, Herbert Halpert, W. Gordon Handcock, Leslie Harris, Robert C. Hollett, Alan Macpherson, Elizabeth Miller, William A. Montevecchi, Patrick O'Flaherty, Peter Pope, Hans Rollman, the late E.R. Seary, Peter Scott, and Michael Wilkshire. And to other scholars and correspondents elsewhere: Frederic G. Cassidy (Wisconsin), Niels W. Jannasch (Nova Scotia), Harry Orsman (Wellington, New Zealand), W.S. Ramson (Canberra), Philip E.L. Smith (Montréal), Janet Story (St John's), Russell Tabbert (Fairbanks).

In the final phase of our work the editors were greatly helped in processing the Supplement with a computer assisted technology by Laura Taylor.

Attention is drawn to the list of Corrections of the 1982 Dictionary which precedes this Supplement in the book. We once again invite readers to draw our attention to any errors or omissions.

St John's, Newfoundland

Sheffield, England

April 1990