Thanks to the ELRC’s research assistant Maudie Whelan for the suggestion for this month’s topic, politics in the DNE. Politics are always a hot topic; everywhere you go, everyone has an opinion. This month, in particular, the Provincial Government has been at the forefront of the news media, social media, water cooler chats, dinner parties … one really cannot get away from the raging debates. Whatever side you’re on, even if you’re neutral, you may want to throw some local political terms into the conversation. If you use terms not listed here, please leave a comment below or send us an email!
Most will be familiar with Confederation, the political union of Newfoundland and Canada. Confederate and anti-confederate, also anti and con, described the two sides. By clicking on the hyperlinked text, you can read all the entries for these terms in the DNE. The presentation of citations from the editors is interesting and perhaps makes one wonder why they might have chosen the citations listed over others given that there was certainly a large body of evidence to draw from.
The word government itself has a number of linked compounds including government bull which can refer to an actual bull or can be a derogatory name for a government representative. There are only three word-files for this compound.
Devilskin has been used to describe a certain politician in the DNE, though the editors thoughtfully removed the name before publication.
Some of you may have heard the expression “there’s whigs in that”. A whig, in this sense, describes a supporter of the British political party who was opposed the Tories. The local expression is used to indicate that there is something suspicious going on. Fairity is a noun that means ‘fairness’. One speaker from Kelligrews in 1975 indicated that they believe in fairity, meaning recognizing when the opponent in a political discussion has fared well.
There are a multitude of words available to describe the acts of the government or a particular party or politician, but sometimes you might want a little local flavor. Sleeveen, when used as a noun, may be fairly familiar; it was one of the words Vik Adhopia picked out for a piece on the National last year (take a look by clicking here). You might be surprised to know that sleeveen can also be used as a verb or as a verbal noun. The word-file below, from the Newfoundland Herald, is the only example in the collection of this use.
Another term that has been used to describe certain politicians is cracky as can be seen in the word-file below.
Jack-easy is a term meaning ‘lazy’ that did not make it into the DNE. In one of the two word-files for the term, it is used to describe the attitude of a government. From the queried files, there is the term lively to describe the manner in which a Government official was working. A word-file was queried when it was not clear if the usage was Newfoundland specific or not.
An amusing excerpt from an interview participant reflects on the 1932 Commission Government using the Irish omadhaun to express his sentiments towards said Government.
From the withdrawn files comes an enjoyable anecdote about whether people hark or heed the government and its representatives. This file was withdrawn since this sense of hark is not particular to Newfoundland.
When someone misspeaks, people may say they put their foot in their mouth. In Newfoundland, the boot, or logan, is said to get caught in one’s throat. You could say, “S/he’s got more tongue than a logan” for someone who talks a lot.
Hopefully that will give you a start on your local vocabulary to describe the recent political tumults!