Archaisms or Old Words Spoken in Pubnico

An “archaism” is a word or an expression no longer considered part of standard French.

The teachers and citizens of Pubnico consider it essential to speak these archaisms, which many regard as riches bequeathed by our ancestors, passed down the generations, favourably adorning the history of the village and connecting us to our past.

Pascal Poirier, the first to make a comprehensive study of Acadian archaisms, published Le parler Franco-Acadien et ses origines in 1928, a work of 339 pages (Imprimerie franciscaine missionnaire, Québec). In this book, he not only studies the archaisms themselves, but also the grammar, the pronunciation, and the expressions Acadians use in their speech.

In addition to his book, Pascal Poirier also collected five to six thousand “old words”, which appeared in five booklets, totalling 466 pages, the first of which was published in 1953 (Université Saint-Joseph, N.-B.), the four others in 1977 (Centre d’études acadiennes, Université de Moncton).

To these studies one might add an article published in Mémoire de la société royale du Canada (Série III – March 1917 – vol. X, pages 339-364) entitled “Des vocables algonquins, caraïbes, etc., qui sont entrés dans la langue”.

In 1963, after two voyages to Acadia and one to Louisiana, Miss Marguerite Massignon, of Paris, published her two-volume thesis entitled “Les parlers français d’Acadie – enquête linguistique” that she presented to obtain her doctorate. It is the most erudite study ever undertaken of Acadian speech.

Among the works on old Acadian words, let us also mention two published works, both released in 1988: that of Felix Thibodeau, Le parler de la Baie Sainte-Marie, Nouvelle-Écosse (Les éditions Lescarbot, Yarmouth, N.S.), consisting of 3000 words; and that of Enphrem Boudreau, Glossaire du vieux parler acadien – mots et expressions recueillis à la Rivière-Bourgeois, of Cape Breton (Les éditions du Fleuve, Montreal, P.Q.), consisting of nearly 1500 documented words.

The majority of these “old words” that are in use in Pubnico are found in the works of these authors. Others, however, seem to be explicit to our region. The following list is just a fraction of the Acadian vocabulary of Pubnico:

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