The Tocque Formula and Newfoundland English


  • Susanne Wagner University of Oxford


Summer settlements had been established on the island of Newfoundland since at least the 17th century. A dominion of the British Crown, Newfoundland entered Confederation as the tenth Canadian province (Newfoundland and Labrador) in 1949. Two main groups of settlers dominated: the English from Southwest England, who arrived first, followed by a large influx of Irish from Southeast Ireland who began arriving in large numbers in the 19th century.

In the late 19th century, Philip Tocque formulated the following statement concerning a link between religion and regional origin of the inhabitants of Newfoundland: "The Roman Catholics are Irish and the descendants of Irish; the Episcopalians, Methodists and Congregationalists are English and the descendants of English and Jersey: the Presbyterians are principally Scotch and their descendants" (Philip Tocque, 1878, Newfoundland as it was and it is in ]877, Toronto: no publisher, p. 366; cited in Handcock 1989: 145). For many parts of Newfoundland, particularly the smaller settlements, this holds true to the present day. As intermingling between the two religious groups rarely occurred in the early days, the Irish settlements (mainly on the Avalon Peninsula) and Southwest English settlements (mainly main island outports and bays) remained separated as well. This socio-cultural separation was at the same time a linguistic separation; features traditionally associated with Irish English (IrE) did not spread outside the Jrish communities, and the same
is true for Southwest English (SWE) features.

Author Biography

Susanne Wagner, University of Oxford

Departmental Lecturer, Language and Linguistics




How to Cite

Wagner, S. (2014). The Tocque Formula and Newfoundland English. Linguistica Atlantica, 27, 141–146. Retrieved from