Thursday, March 27, 2008

What Did You Say?

I've enjoyed my time out here, but I wouldn't say I loves it. I wouldn't say I hates it either. I wouldn't say either of those things because they are not grammatically correct and make my ears bleed every time someone says them.

My Ontario homecoming is less than two weeks away and while there are a number of people and things I am certainly going to miss, the frustrating bastardization of the English language is certainly not one of them.

Yes, everywhere has their own little dialect that produces strange contractions and slang, but nowhere on Earth is quite like Newfoundland.

If someone is victorious over another in a competition, what would you say he/she did? They beat you, right? Nope, not here. Here, they bet you. Seriously, bet.

What's the plural of you, used to describe a collection of people? It's you, no? No, it's yee. Yee, as in "Do yee have that movie?"

Adding an "s" to the end of things isn't unilaterally acceptable either, as in the loves and hates example that batted lead-off for this rant. It also doesn't work in the following forms:

  • I gots that at home
  • I wants to see that
  • I eats there all the time
Like I said earlier, I understand and accept some of the regional slang and speech, in so far as it has been used so much around me that it doesn't have an impact on me any longer.

Yes B'y is now an acceptable positive response to a statement or question.

Whattaya At? - while I still have no idea how it means "What's Up?" - is commonplace and occasionally even rolls off my tongue from time to time.

Its cousin from out around the bay "Where Ya To?" however has never and will never be part of my lexicon, as no part of that phraseology conveys the idea of "Where are you?" to me.

And for those that are wondering, "out around the bay" is basically any place that isn't the City of St. John's. See, you either live in "The City" or "Out Around the Bay."

The unfortunate thing, and I say this with the utmost love and affection for my Newfie friends and readers, is that to "a Mainlander" like me, even the smartest person on the island sounds a little slow uttering some of these words and phrases.

Mind you, it's not your fault.

It's what yee were taught and yee had no say in what yee learns in school. Dats just how it is b'y.

Ah Newfie-isms... how I won't miss yee.

One last thing - it's a can of pop, not a can of drink. You don't ask for a glass of drink, you ask for a glass of something specific - juice, pop, water, booze, whatever. Not drink!


Deuce said...

ya know what spence. i love ya but you have no right to tell us that our dialect is stupid sounding. It might sound dumb, or uncommon to you, and others but that doesn't make it wrong.

What're we at? we're making our mark. you wanna tell the americans to stop sayin 'y'all' or tell the people from ontario to stop sayin 'cooch' instead of 'couch'? and yes, i've heard it, so don't argue.

This is the way we speak, its part of our culture, its part of who we are, and its part of us. Just because it sounds weird to you, doensn't make it wrong.

Our accent is neither wrong, nor stupid sounding. If you ask me, its beautiful.

E. Spencer Kyte said...

You know what Deuce, I love you too, but my friend, the truth is that the language and vocabulary used here, while beautiful to you and many, will put you behind the eight ball in the rest of the world.

D'you think you're interview at Waterloo would have gone well if you told them, "I was after working in the lab" or "Yee guys has been real great to me" as you were leaving the room? Sorry, but it would have lessened your likelihood of getting in.

None of this has been said as an insult or to tarnish the wonderful people here in Newfoundland.

Simply my opinion and something that, as a guy who tries to make his living on words, language and good grammar, I have a hard time comprehending.

Deuce said...

As a scientific writer, i know all about grammar, proper diction, and correct punctuation.

Would a person from the UK who has a different dialect have a lesser chance because they don't speak exactly the same as those in Ontario? Do grad students from Asia have lesser chances because of a language barrier? Absolutely not.

Because of a way you speak, a way your taught, doesn't make it any less than the way 'you speak'

Chalk said...

Ironically the most hick-sounding thing in this post was Spence dropping the word "pop" as if that were the height of sophistication anywhere other than Nebraska.