About Twig

Twig is a blog of the English Language Research Centre at Memorial University. It discusses the English language in Newfoundland and Labrador, a Canadian province on North America’s east coast. Researchers at the ELRC published the Dictionary of Newfoundland English in 1982, which they revised in 1990 to include a Supplement containing approximately 1,500 new words or expanded entries. To this day the DNE remains one of the most well-known and internationally acclaimed publications to emerge from the province. It is also the inspiration for this blog.

Alongside exploring the rich lexicon presented in the DNE and its Supplement, Twig will examine the research materials that went into the dictionary’s creation. These are the more than 100,000 index cards and paper slips that the dictionary’s editors began compiling in the 1950s and today comprise the ELRC’s DNE Collection. Each word-file contains a local word in its actual usage – whether from a printed source or an interview – or a commentary on a word by the dictionary’s editors and contributors. The word-files have not been published or made widely available to the public before now.

Twig was created by Jenny Higgins, former Manager of the English Language Research Centre. Higgins is also a freelance writer whose work has appeared on the Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage Web Site, CBC Radio, and various magazines and newspapers. She has undergraduate degrees in English and journalism, and a Master’s degree in English. Twig is now written by Suzanne Power, current Manager of the English Language Research Centre. Suzanne is a graduate student in Linguistics at Memorial University and studies Newfoundland English with a focus on Placentia.

Two senses exist for twig in the word-files: the first is ‘a small drink’ and the second is ‘to catch the meaning’. The first sense appears in the dictionary, but the second does not – the editors considered it too widespread for inclusion. Twig, however, is a fitting title for a blog that investigates not only the DNE, but its supporting word-files.

Twig: to catch the meaning

A word-file for twig from the ELRC's DNE Collection. Reproduced by permission of the English Language Research Centre, Memorial University, St. John's, NL.