Speaking Newfanese

Posted: June 19, 2013 in Assorted Silliness, Newfoundland, RV, Tourism, Travel
Tags: , , ,

DSC_0023ARNewfie Graffiti

The Newfoundland dialect is a constant source of amusement for us as we make our way around this intriguing province.  It apparently differs slightly from town to town and locals in any given area can spot outsiders or pinpoint one’s lineage in some way that will forever remain a mystery to us Mainlanders.

Newfies generally greet each other thusly:  “Howya gettin’ on?” If a male Newfie is greeting another male, it amends slightly to “Howya gettin’ on, by?”  (As near as I can figure, “by” is just “boy” without the “o” and not a reference to either sexuality or mental health issues.)

Aside from local dialects, there are certain constants which distinguish Newfie speech from, well, everyone else’s:

All common uses for the letter H have been abolished in Newfoundland.  For example, if you wanted to say something like, “I’ll take the other half of that,” you’d have to say “Oil take de udder affa dat” if you wanted to pass for a Newf.

You’ll notice I said “oil” there instead of “I’ll.”  This incredibly graceful segue brings us to another rule of Newfie speech:  Words containing a long “i” sound (such as “eye spy with my little eye”) are replaced by “oy” (not to be confused with the Jewish version, which is its own word).  For example, “What time is it?” becomes “Whut toyme ya got, by?” to which you might reply, “It’s tree minutes ta noyne.”

Newfie’s tend to femalize inanimate objects.  Things are referred to as her or she.  Because of the no-h rule, “her” becomes “er.”  “She,” however, has been granted amnesty under some sort of rule exception clause and remains “she.”  I have no other explanation for this.

The reason for my desire to attempt to decipher this Newfie code-talking business came on the heels of my having overheard a guy talking on his cellphone (amazing in itself considering how exquisitely rare cell signals are on The Rock).  The gist of the conversation was that Buddy A was lending something to Buddy B.  Here’s what I heard:

“Howya gettin’ on, by?”

“Yeah, gettin’ on good too.”

“No, no, just callin’ ta tellya she’s round back by da fence.”



“Yeah, picker up an’ gwan widder.”

That’s when I lost it.  From that moment on I am resolved to somehow find a way to use “picker up an’ gwan widder” in conversation.

Please feel free to use these linguistic guidelines yourself should you ever find yourself in conversation widda Newf.


  1. glb21 says:

    this post made me chuckle, being a Newfoundlander myself. You got the lingo down pretty good:) I’m sure there are readers who cannot figure still what ” gwan wider” means. haha

  2. You really do need to tag your posts as “humor.” Great stuff.



    • nomaddness says:

      I guess I just assume that that which amuses me, might be just the result of some sort of intercranial malfunction and maybe not to everyone’s taste. 🙂

  3. littlebird says:

    I can hear the accent in my head as I read your post. You have a quite a talent for writing. 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

  4. tkmorin says:

    So funny! I’ve heard about your accent, but have yet to actually hear it. You’ve certainly created a post that almost makes me believe I have! Thank you again! 🙂

  5. tkmorin says:

    Reblogged this on Bite Size Canada and commented:
    This post made me laugh quite a bit! And I so recommend you read the other posts there. Take my word for it — you won’t regret it, plus you’ll find yourselves smiling a bit more too! — tk

  6. Joanne says:

    I was smiling out loud your entire post. We’ve only been living in Canada for two years now and still occasionally confuse the North American accents with exception to the Newfies – we can always pick those ones – thank you so much for sharing!

  7. Kate Sparkes says:

    (Mainlander living in Newfoundland, here, which makes me a CFA) Don’t forget the tendency in many areas to not only drop all H’s when they should appear in a word, but also to add an H at the beginning of many words beginning with a vowel. I love Easter around here, because of all the people who ask, “So, did ye ‘ave an ‘appy Heaster?”

    (I love the accent an the dialects. It makes me very happy to go to the post “hoffice” and hear “yis, dis one’s for Kat’leen!)

    Great post!

  8. Thanks for this one. It was funny as well as informative for an American like me.

  9. Nice one, b’y. 🙂 I grew up in Newfoundland so it’s good to hear decent talk again. The funny thing is that not only do they (we) take off the “h” on words, but also in some areas, they stick it onto any word starting with a vowel.
    A woman was talking to my sister, Anna, when she was small and said, “Hanna, that’s such a pretty name. Why did you mother call you Hanna?” My sister, about 3, replied, “She didn’t. She called me Anna.”

    • nomaddness says:

      My mom was born ‘n’ raised in Quebec and although she was an Anglo, she would add those frontal h’s too! I’m still laughing – thanks for the flashback!

  10. gadusgirl says:

    Love this one! I recently bought my daughter a book of Newfoundland ABC’s and it’s awesome (though sometimes I get a little lost in the lingo).

  11. DouglasMB says:

    I think the best part for me because I have spent so much time with you… when I read your blogs I “hear” your voice… and your amused bewilderment in the things and people around you 🙂 It’s awesome !!

  12. Judy says:

    This is funny. I had to show my Newfie hubby. Imagine our household. He speaks Newfanese while I speak Chinglish. Our poor children… Lol

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