Books full of facts
What do “Traditional Newfy Talk” by R. A. Bragg (Nimbus, $12.95) and “Saint John: Facts and Folklore” by David Goss (Nimbus $14.95) have in common?
Their purpose, that’s what — supplying careful, detailed information to the general public.
If you visit or read about a Newfoundland outport, Bragg’s book will probably be a help; if you go to Saint John or read about it, David Goss’ book will also help and interest you.
Both of these books are compact and easy to carry around. Goss’ book is full of black-andwhite photographs and cute little drawings, while Bragg’s is full of illustrative sentences: for example “quick loike” is exemplified in this sentence: “E ducked een d’shop real quick loike”. These examples are each followed by a translation into Standard English e.g. “He quickly stepped into the store.”Bragg’s book also has a list for further reading and interesting endnotes.
Goss’ book has neither. This is one of the signs that “Traditional Newfy Talk” while useful for anyone, is aimed more particularly towards those who love language for its own sake and not just a particular language. In a short introduction entitled Newfy Talking, Bragg writes several things that are worthwhile knowing. One is that Newfoundland orthography and pronunciation would resemble those of the English West Country — Devon, Somerset, and Dorset — but for the over-riding influence of standard English. Others are a pronunciation key, abbreviations for sources such as London cant “street English of the 1600s” and WCE “West Country English”.
Some basic grammar, chiefly various pronouns is included, as well as a list of other pronouns and prepositions. This is a great little book, and invaluable for the lover of any language, especially “Newfy”, claimed to be “The First English Language of North America.
Goss’ “Saint John: Facts and Folklore” is an addictive book; once opened, you cannot (hardly) put it down, with stories such as Heated Sidewalks, subtitled A good idea that went bad; Trafalgar Day; Prince Philippe Buried in Saint John?...; Ode to Dulse; and A Steer and a Saloon. Many or the stories are funny, a few are tragic and there are some ghost stories. There is one monster, Ug Wug, which is said to live in a cave at the bottom of the Reversing Falls. Its legend goes far back into Aboriginal times.