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Monday, 2 May 2016

Language Lesson

While Canada is a bilingual country with English and French, many of us cannot speak the second language, including my husband and me. However, we are bilingual; we speak Newfinese and English.

There is a Dictionary of Newfoundland English by Kirwin, Story and Widdowson, which details many of the words and phrases used in our home province. While Newfoundland has been a province of Canada since 1949, its isolation meant the language and accent of the original settlers were preserved over the centuries. Many of the small villages stretched around the Newfoundland coast have unique words and sayings which came from the ancestral countries and counties. For us, it is difficult to eliminate the language and accent from our speech or memory, even if we try.

Phrases like, "Yes, Maid," are common in Newfoundland. I say it to our granddaughters, wanting to expose them to Newfinese. Our granddaughter, Sylvie, only knows a maid as a servant who cleans in a hotel room. When I first used the term with her, she said, "Nanny, I am not a maid."

 

Maid in Newfoundland means girl, which I explained to Sylvie. During their last visit, Sylvie said to her sister, Caitlin, "You can't do that, maid."

I smiled!


22 comments:

  1. Makes sense: maid as in maiden in older English.

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  2. I remember visiting Montreal once long ago, and I was snubbed rather completely in a restaurant because I didn't speak French. We finally got up and left. I'd love to visit Newfoundland and have a young maid serve me dinner! :-)

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    1. You wouldn't be snubbed in Newfoundland for not speaking Newfinese.

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  3. Do you notice television leveling the regional accent, or does the accent supersede what the children hear?

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  4. So cute! And wonderful to know your lesson took hold!

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    1. She's a fast learner, as is her sister.

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  5. Marie, thanks for your comments on my 'Seeking Adventures' post. You can read about our oldest son, who was a water bomber pilot, under the tab for 'William' on my blog. He was following his dreams, and having lots of adventures, so one of our main reactions has been to decide we will have as many adventures as we can handle for the rest of our lives! You have to find some kind of positive response to carry on. And learning 'Newfinese' sounds like it could be fun!

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  6. How sweet they are. Quebec is the only place where anyone pronounces my name (Dianne) correctly.

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  7. That is good to preserve the phrases used for so long. We say maid here e.g. "little maid".

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    1. It is probably from your part of the UK. Lots of our ancestors were from the west coast.

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  8. I have never heard Maid used that way before. Makes perfect sense though. So cute.

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  9. It isn't used this way elsewhere in North America I suspect.

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  10. It would be interesting to compare Canadian French with French French but then the language in France varies geographically.

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    1. It is very different from Parisian French.

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  11. What a FABULOUS anecdote, Marie, of the nuance of your own language/dialect. So precious...as is also the accompanying image!

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  12. Your granddaughters are very adorable!
    Learning another language is a struggling one. Memorizing words is hard, but understanding the different grammar is more difficult!

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    1. Our granddaughters are the joy of our lives, Tomoko.

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