Pardon my Newfoundland

Just finished reading The Shipping News by Anne Proulx. (And just how do you pronounce ‘Proulx’, I’d like to know?)

Never have I encountered so many words I didn’t know. And I choose the word ‘encountered’ advisedly. These are not just the kinds of words that you half-recognise, or words you sort of know, or words you know you ought to know but certainly couldn’t come up with anything if put on the spot for a definition. No, I’m talking about words you have never even seen before. Ever.

Take a chapter at random – Chapter 7. Gamming. Omaloor. Gansey. Auroral. Burnoosed. I mean, seriously…

I think I did pretty well, considering, to hold it together till Chapter 34, where I finally found myself groaning ‘Oh, come onnn!’ at:

“….Quoyle and Tert Card sat at a side table littered with wadded napkins. A smoldering ashtray. Behind them two old slindgers in overcoats and pulled down Donegal caps…”

‘Slindgers?’ What in God’s name is a slindger?

The great Google (what else) took me to the answer. A page of Newfoundland vernacular- http://www.wordnik.com/lists/like-true-newfoundlanders. And there it is, along with scrunchions and dorymen, annieopsquotch and mauzy, mundle, faddle and calabogus. But still no definition. A bit more googling and I had an answer, thanks to Vikings of the Ice Being the Log of a Tenderfoot on the Great Newfoundland Seal Hunt

A slindger, it turns out, is a loafer, the kind of aging good for nothing who hangs out in a darkened bar with wadded napkins for decor. Learn something new every day…