Dialect Atlas of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Going through my old unread e-mail file, I found the Dialect Atlas of Newfoundland and Labrador:

The online Dialect Atlas of Newfoundland and Labrador was formally launched on October 23, 2013, to considerable media attention. More than a decade in the making, it documents regional differences in selected features of pronunciation, morphosyntax (grammar) and lexicon within the spoken English of the province. Its “structural” component – grounded in regional dialect data for traditional speakers in 69 coastal communities on the island of Newfoundland, assembled in the 1970s and 1980s by linguist Harold Paddock – expands the original project to include information on the geographical distribution of 31 features of pronunciation and 27 features of grammar. Its lexical (“words”) component documents responses to a 566-item questionnaire from 126 traditional speakers in twenty representative communities, in both the island and Labrador portions of the province. […]

One of the very few online dialect atlases in the English-speaking world, the Atlas is designed to appeal not simply to scholars, educators and students, but also to the public at large. An important component is the provision of thousands of illustrative audio clips for the Atlas’ pronunciation features, thereby enabling web users to hear the actual voices of Newfoundland speakers born as early as 1871. An “Activities” section provides site visitors with an opportunity to test their knowledge of – and increase their familiarity with – Newfoundland and Labrador English, in a dynamic and interactive environment. The Atlas also invites contributions and comments concerning current and observed usage of local features of English.

As Stan Carey, who sent it to me almost seven years ago, said: “This is a delight.” And it’s still there after all this time, so it’s no fly-by-night site. Belated thanks, Stan!


  1. On the history of the screech-in. The way I experienced it, you had to repeat some phrases in over-the-top Labrador English; if successful, would be rewarded with a shot of screech rum; if not, you kiss a cod (dead but fresh) on the lips.

    I was impressed by the experience of bidialectal speakers of Newfie or Labrador and regional Canadian English, who would switch according to their audience. I never had that experience with any other English variety.

  2. I second Y’s remark on Newfoundlanders’ bidialectalism . When I first went to Saint-John’s, Newfoundland (for a linguistics colloquium) I was staying at a bed-and-breakfast, run by a retired couple: one a former supermarket manager, one a former high school teacher. They were very sociable and chatted a great deal with me and the other guest (who was also a linguistics student from outside Newfoundland, there for the colloquium), speaking a very standard Canadian English (leaving aside suprasegmentals and the realization of some vowels).

    Neither of quite realized how far removed from their ordinary speech the English they were using with us outsiders was until one fine evening a young woman -a friend of the couple’s daughter- dropped by, and for the next twenty minutes or so I and the other non-Newfoundlander simply listened to a VERY lively conversation in Newfoundland dialect. I know it is a bit embarrassing for a linguist to admit this, but…to this day I haven’t the foggiest notion as to what the topic(s) of the conversation was/were.

  3. I had the same experience. A bunch of us from the US and a bunch of Labrador guys, who would switch between conversing among themselves and with us. None of us could pick out a single word, except for the requisite “eh” at the end of each turn of speech.

  4. Wow, that’s really remarkable.

  5. While teaching at a small college in the Appalachian region of Virginia, I had an undergraduate assistant – she and I spoke to each other in an unremarkable slightly Southern accent – along the lines of what I’d heard while going to high school south of Richmond, Virginia. Once I was talking to her on the phone while she was home, and her mother spoke to her – she excused herself briefly and spoke back to her mother in a strong mountain twang. I could understand her, but I was nevertheless very surprised – I wondered how many of my other students had “school accents”.

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