Slang dic­tionary de­fines lo­cal lingo Ex­pres­sions like ‘a fart in a mit­ten’ de­fined

South Shore Breaker - - Health& Wellness - AL­LI­SON LAWLOR THE CHRON­I­CLE HER­ALD

If you ask Vernon Oickle whether he had a “bed lunch” last night, likes “Solomon gundy” with crack­ers or bread or thinks it’s “mild­ing up out­side,” he’ll know ex­actly what you mean.

For years, the pro­lific Nova Sco­tian author has been trav­el­ling the prov­ince and lis­ten­ing keenly to the way peo­ple speak dif­fer­ently, not only from the rest of the coun­try, but from town to town closer to home. He started jot­ting down the lingo he found unique to the place and even­tu­ally com­piled them in a funny lit­tle book called Bluenosers’ Book of Slang: How to Talk Nova Sco­tian.

“I tend to con­sider my­self a col­lec­tor. I pay at­ten­tion to what peo­ple are say­ing and do­ing,” he said re­cently in an in­ter­view. “We of­ten say a phrase that will make you chuckle.”

Nova Sco­tia, like ev­ery re­gion in the world, has its own dis­tinct lin­guis­tic short­hand. These words and phrases be­come mean­ing­ful over time and help to not only in­form the peo­ple who speak them about them­selves, but bind them to­gether.

“Nova Sco­tia is blessed with a rich lan­guage. It is lit­tered with words and ex­pres­sions that vary from county to county and from fish­ing com­mu­nity to farm town,” Oickle writes in his book’s in­tro­duc­tion.

Whether it’s some­one on the South Shore ask­ing, “Are you comin’ with?” or a Cape Bre­toner declaring, “Right some good, you,” Oickle’s book, which is or­ga­nized like a dic­tionary with words and mean­ings grouped in al­pha­bet­i­cal or­der, is filled with ex­pres­sions that might leave you won­der­ing what you’ve just read.

“It is not de­fin­i­tive,” he said. “This is kind of a fun at­tempt to shed light on some of the things we say.”

The book’s cover in­cludes a light-hearted warn­ing, such as reader dis­cre­tion is ad­vised be­cause some words and phrases, like “Whoof your cookies” or “Wouldn’t say shit for a shovel full,” may be con­sid­ered of­fen­sive.

Born and raised in Liver­pool, Oickle still calls the South Shore town home. A writer and free­lance jour­nal­ist for 40 years, he fo­cuses much of his writ­ing on the prov­ince’s rich his­tory and cul­ture. Some of his best-known books are about Nova Sco­tian folk­lore, superstitions and ghost sto­ries. Words and slang are an­other part of the prov­ince’s cul­ture, he said.

“I’m fas­ci­nated by our her­itage and his­tory.”

Read­ers have al­ready let him know about words he should in­clude in a fu­ture edi­tion of Bluenoser’s Book of Slang. He wel­comes sug­ges­tions ( peo­ple can mes­sage him through Face­book).

Aside from the words, phrases and ex­pres­sions he col­lected him­self over the years, he also put out a call on so­cial me­dia while com­pil­ing the book. Peo­ple from across the prov­ince sent him ideas, which he added to his list.

The book even in­cludes a sec­tion on lob­ster jar­gon with def­i­ni­tions on ev­ery­thing from a gaff (a long, straight wooden pole with a metal hook on the end used to hook the buoys at­tached to the lob­ster traps) to roe (a fe­male lob­ster’s egg sac, which is con­sid­ered a del­i­cacy).

“I hope the book sheds a lit­tle light on who we are as Nova Sco­tians,” he said. “How we speak is who we are.”

Ac­cord­ing to Oickle, you know you’re speak­ing Nova Sco­tian when ...

• You just made a hodge­podge (a tra­di­tional, sum­mer­time meal con­sist­ing of new gar­den veg­eta­bles boiled and bathed in cream).

• You caught your toe on the car­pet and went arse over ket­tle (slipped and fell).

• You say you’ve got a right nice car.

• You in­vite your friends over on Satur­day night for a feed of lob­ster.

• Your kid is act­ing like a fart in a mit­ten (lots of en­ergy).

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