Nova Scotia author Vernon Oickle leaves little to be lost in translation


Vernon and Bluenosers

Give a gander to Vernon Oickle's new book and you'll see it's pritnear all you need to understand Nova Scotia's vernacular and it ain't half bad.

In his book, Bluenoser's Book of Slang: How To Talk Nova Scotian, the Liverpool author informs his readers that rappie pie is a meat or chicken casserole that goes well with molasses, and that "can't get blood from a turnip" refers to getting money from someone who's flat-out broke.

These would be some of the book's... shall we say... less colourful expressions.

"I think it reflects how the culture evolved over time and when you have a place like Nova Scotia that is a melting pot of different cultures communicating together over the last 200 years, the way we speak is a reflection of that," said Oickle. "It reflects who we are, it captures our past."

Other expressions are practically self-explanatory, such as dooryard – the yard outside one's home – and bed lunch – a snack people enjoy while tucked in bed before lights out.

Oickle's book also contains a special section that defines terms associated with lobster fishing, a reflection of Nova Scotia's heritage that many still rely upon for their livelihood.

For example, a tinker refers to the small lobsters that must be thrown back, as per fishing regulations.

Nova Scotian slang can vary between different counties and even towns.

"We're the oldest part of Canada, so it only stands to reason that we've had more time to evolve and it's a part of our character," said Oickle. "I want people to have fun with it, first of all, but my message is to embrace it and be proud of it."

His latest work is a light-hearted take on Nova Scotia's constantly changing language, but Oickle is the author of 28 books, including Red Sky at Night, Ghost Stories of Nova Scotia, the Nova Scotia Outrageous Outhouse Reader and the bestselling titles based on the saying "One Crow Sorrow..."

Oickle is also an award-winning journalist, but Maritime language, traditions superstitions and folklore remain as his enduring passion. He still resides in his birthplace of Liverpool.

Fram Dinshaw (

Published: Oct 24, Truro Daily News

See original article in the Truro Daily News

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