|demon moose aren't the only odd thing|
gradually, tiny settlements began to dot the coast of the island. many were the aforementioned english, but there were also families from france [a little further to the west, in what would become the province of quebec, but the borders were hazy at the time] and quite a number from the channel islands, especially jersey. some of the place names show that there were others mixed in there too: spaniard's bay, portugal cove, port aux basques, harbour breton, etc. plus there were still native tribes with whom the europeans sometimes interacted.
the thing is, the people who lived there were all uneducated and mostly illiterate. they spoke a variety of mother tongues and while english quickly came to dominate, people tended to pronounce things a bit strangely because they were often repeating what they had heard that was originally something in a different language and they had no idea what it meant or how to spell it. this persisted for hundreds of years. it wasn't common for people in the remote villages of newfoundland to receive a standard education until well into the twentieth century.
the legacy of those times is that newfoundland has an astounding number of truly awesome place names. as i've sought out information on my family history, i've come across many of them, although sadly my family seems to have settled in the comparatively normal ones.
most people will never hear about newfoundland place names on their own, so i've decided to list as many of them as i can here. enjoy.
heart's delight [which is just south of heart's desire. i picture the two towns fighting for supremacy.]
little heart's ease [more modest folk]
conception bay [these last two are further apart than you might expect]
point enragée [yup, that means "enraged point"]
françois [someone didn't understand when he was told to "name the village"]
muddy hole [wouldn't want to work in tourism for them]
isle aux morts ["island of the dead"]
harbour le cou ["neck harbour"]
mainland [which doesn't sound that odd until you consider that it's on an island just off the coast of a larger island]
joe batt's arm
change islands [i think that was originally meant as an instruction, but someone got confused]
indian burying place [succinct, although disturbingly vague]
there's also one that i particularly love as a bilingual person: baie d'espoir.
that isn't an odd name on the face of things. it translates as "bay of hope". but through time, it's been filtered through all the people who've lived there and through the modern-day, highly distinctive newfoundland accent, so that the people there now pronounce it as "bay despair".
and finally, no list of this sort would be complete without the place name that no one believes is real but which totally exists:
never change, newfoundland. you are awesome.