Canadopers. Is the signature Newfoundland accent dying out?

I watched a news report from Canuckistan the other day and there were kids in St. John’s being interviewed. They all had the ‘standard’ Canadian accent. Is the old accent dying out or dead?

I was in St John’s just about a year ago. I assure you, the classic “Newfie” accent is still plenty strong, at least with the folks I was speaking to.

I think it’s just the difference between “city folks” and “country folks”… the ones who grew up in St John’s proper had much less noticeable accents than the ones who’d grown up in smaller communities (one had such a thick accent that I could barely understand him).

I bet you if you asked any of the kids on that news report to say “three” it would’ve still come out sounding like “t’ree”. :slight_smile:

Judging from the accent of a co-worker who came from Cape Breton last year, I would have to say not any time soon.

It’s people in the outlying towns, mostly, that have the stronger accents. Also, (in my experience) people with higher education tend to have less of an accent.

Pssst… Cape Breton is in Nova Scotia.

(though the two accents are admittedly quite similar, given that Newfies and Cape Bretoners have a similar melange of Scots/Irish ancestry)

Well mine sure did. I only lived there until I was six, though, and that was more years ago than I care to think about. Also, I was actually born in NB, so it wasn’t really in the blood :D.

My sister has a couple of friends from the Rock who have noticable accents, and I have a few colleagues who are clearly Newfs when you hear them, so it’s still there. I expect that it’s gradually falling prey to the general smoothing out of regional accents driven by television and mass media, which dilute the effect of daily local reinforcement of language differences. I would guess that the dialect differences in grammar, vocabulary and phrasing go first, before the actual accent - the different sounding out of words.

Yeah, I know - my point was that maritime accents aren’t disappearing, not just the Newfie accent.

My mother is a Newfie and her accent is very American (she has lived here since the '50s though). I remember my grandfather had an accent that reminded me of my other side of the family who are from New England. However, I met a cousin from there a few years ago and was suprised at her accent which sounded Irish to me. Since my Canadian relatives are from Devon and Dorset, I did not expect that. My mom always joked about a Newfie saying,“Aye’s the bye” (meaning I’m the boy) which didn’t sound like any other accent that I was familiar with.


Hi. I was born and lived in St. John’s my entire life until a couple years ago when I moved away for school. I am often told I have no accent and people (in Ontario) are confused as to why. I always tell them I grew up “in town”, the local parlance for living in St. John’s.

St. John’s has its own accent as well, especially in my parent’s generation (I’m 24), depending on what part of the city you grew up in. It’s not as distinctive as what you’d think of as the Newfoundland accent.

To answer your question, the younger generation in general is moving out of the outports and into the city, or out of the province. You get a much stronger accent in older generations and from those who grew up in smaller communities. Like any other part of the world, we’re generally much less isolated than kids would have been 50 years ago growing up, even if you’re living in a small community.

It’s not true that if you asked any of those kids to say “3”, they would all, to a person, say “t’ree”. Many people don’t have the accent; many do, regardless of their age. Some people will let it come out more in some situations and curb it where they feel it’s appropriate. I tend to let a few things slip out sometimes, especially if I’ve had a few drinks, and people around here give me a funny look and are sure to say “what?”. That is, I’ll say a phrase or word that my Ontario friends don’t understand, because it’s a local phrase with a particular meaning, not because I’ve pronounced it in a funny way. (There is a Dictionary of Newfoundland English, for those who are unfamiliar with the scope of the local dialect, available online at I consider it a crucial part of who I am to be a Newfoundlander and I’m always happy to explain what I meant to anyone who asks.

I hope percussion sees this thread to add his thoughts as well.

Sweeteviljesus, you’re referring to “I’se the b’y”, or “I is [am] the boy”. It’s the title of a fairly famous folk song.

Not in the Newfoundlanders that I’ve met. As others have noted, it varies, but it is there. And to me it is most reminiscent of a west Irish accent.

My neighbor’s a Newf’ and it goes in cycles - she goes home yearly, for the primary purpose of refreshing her accent. (Visiting her sister and Mom is secondary :smiley: ) So it’s definitely still there.

Southeast, of what I’ve heard. The Irish elements IIRC comes from counties Waterford and Wexford for the most part. Also the West of Ireland has several distinct accents depending on what county you’re talking about.