23 november 2012

Iconic 'Dictionary of Newfoundland English' celebrates 30 years


The Dictionary of Newfoundland English turns 30

An iconic publication in Canada turned 30 last week. The Dictionary of Newfoundland English was created in 1982 to represent a language that developed apart from the rest of Canada.

“This is a very unique place. We were very isolated for a long time in Newfoundland“, says Suzanne Power, centre manager of the English Language Research Centre at Memorial University, in St. John's, NL.
The publication was the result of decades of research and countless interviews with Newfoundlanders. Its main editors, William J. Kirwin, John Widdowson and George Story, realized that regular popular dictionaries didn’t represent the speech of the ordinary people of the island.

“[The dictionary gave] people a sense of belonging and ownership of their own culture", she says.

According to Suzanne Power, the language spoken in Newfoundland and Labrador has been the brunt of a lot of jokes and stigmatization over the years.

“This publication gave Newfoundland English a chance to stand out … It’s not a form of slang, it’s not because people are stupid and you can’t understand them. It’s because it’s a different place. It needs to be represented”, says Power.

Gilda Salomone spoke with Suzanne Power, centre manager of the English Language Research Centre at Memorial University, St. John's, NL.
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