New­fie — in­sult­ing then, in­sult­ing now

The Telegram (St. John’s) - - OPINION - Vic­tor R. Pittman Shoal Har­bour

I must re­spect­fully dis­agree with Richard Mease’s char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of the term New­fie as some­thing to be proud of (“New­fie is a unique iden­ti­fier,” The Telegram, June 27).

As a 90-year-old New­found­lan­der I hold an en­tirely dif­fer­ent opin­ion. I be­lieve the word be­longs in the dust­bin of dis­carded lan­guage along with other deroga­tory and racist terms. As I re­call, the word New­fie orig­i­nated dur­ing the Sec­ond World War shortly af­ter Amer­i­can and Cana­dian troops ar­rived in this coun­try (as it was then). I think there is some un­cer­tainty as to which group orig­i­nated it but my money is on the Amer­i­cans since there were more of them and they were brasher and more boast­ful than the Cana­di­ans.

It was a short­en­ing of the term “Goofy New­fie,” a dis­parag­ing and in­sult­ing ref­er­ence to us be­nighted yokels who spoke a queer dialect, drove on the wrong side of the road (we drove on the left un­til Jan. 2,1947) and used funny money (Cana­dian bills and as­sorted coinage).

And nei­ther do I be­lieve our troops were re­ferred to as New­fies in ei­ther the First or Sec­ond World Wars.

My father was in the First and my brother was over­seas for six years and my next door neigh­bour for even longer in the Sec­ond and I never heard ei­ther of them, or any other re­turn­ing ser­vice­man, men­tion or use the term.

But I cer­tainly heard it when I joined the Royal Cana­dian Air Force in 1949 and went to the main­land and it wasn’t a com­pli­ment.

As far as I am con­cerned, the word was an insult when it was first coined and it is an insult now.

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