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Letter: Newfie — insulting then, insulting now

Letter to the Editor
Letter to the Editor

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.

Victor R. Pittman

Shoal Harbour

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