The Newfoundland Tongue .


288 pages
Contains Bibliography
ISBN 978-1-897317-23-5
DDC 427'.9718





Reviewed by R. Gordon Moyles

R. Gordon Moyles is professor emeritus of English at the University of
Alberta, co-author of Imperial Dreams and Colonial Realities: British
Views of Canada, 1880–1914, and author of The Salvation Army and the


In Port de Grave (pronounced Por-de-grave), the tiny outport where Nellie Strowbridge was born and grew up, one can walk up to Red Head by way of Jacky Dawe’s Mash, passing Spring Drung, Pick Eyes Cove, Snarter’s Head, and Dullyfare, and then, she says, “stand facing the Atlantic sea path that leads straight to Ireland and the genetic path the connects Ireland and Newfoundland.”


In this entertaining and informative book, Strowbridge, playfully yet lovingly, delves into the way Newfoundlanders name things and places, and explores their “queer sayings,” “superstitions,” “strange signs,” bad-luck omens, “food and shelter” terms, “local epithets for people of various stripes,” and many other linguistic peculiarities. This is not a professional analysis, but a remembering—a journey of nostalgia into outports where people talked of “bedlamers” and “scrods,” ate “lassie jimmys” and “rock buns,” and knew the difference between a “jackabaun” and a “jackass.” It is a book to dip into, to choose a few morsels and savour them while you’re having a quiet mug-up, or, even better, having a meal of “padre,” being sure to eat all your “scruncheons.” And don’t forget, if you leave the cover off the teapot, you’re sure to have unexpected company. For that bit of wisdom, and many more like them, take a gander at Nellie Strowbridge’s wonderful compilation.


Strowbridge, Nellie P., “The Newfoundland Tongue .,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 17, 2024,