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Social Science General

Dictionary of Cape Breton English

by (author) William John Davey & Richard P. MacKinnon

University of Toronto Press
Initial publish date
Sep 2016
General, General, General, Canadian
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2016
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2016
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Oct 2016
    List Price

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Biff and whiff, baker’s fog and lu’sknikn, pie social and milling frolic these are just a few examples of the distinctive language of Cape Breton Island, where a puck is a forceful blow and a Cape Breton pork pie is filled with dates, not pork.

The first regional dictionary devoted to the island’s linguistic and cultural history, the Dictionary of Cape Breton English is a fascinating record of the island’s rich vocabulary. Dictionary entries include supporting quotations culled from the editors’ extensive interviews with Cape Bretoners and considerable study of regional variation, as well as definitions, selected pronunciations, parts of speech, variant forms, related words, sources, and notes, giving the reader in-depth information on every aspect of Cape Breton culture.

A substantial and long-awaited work of linguistic research that captures Cape Breton’s social, economic, and cultural life through the island’s language, the Dictionary of Cape Breton English can be read with interest by Backlanders, Bay byes, and those from away alike.

About the authors

William J. Davey is a senior scholar in the Department of Languages and Letters at Cape Breton University.

William John Davey's profile page

Richard MacKinnon is a professor of Folklore and director of the Centre for Cape Breton Studies at Cape Breton University.

Richard P. MacKinnon's profile page


  • Winner, Choice Outstanding Academic Titles, 2017

Editorial Reviews

‘Highly recommended. All readership levels.’

Choice Magazine vol 54:08:2017

"It may seem odd to suggest a dictionary is a fun read, but the Dictionary of Cape Breton English (DCBE) by academics William J. Davey and Richard MacKinnon is just such a book…. This should appeal to word lovers, writers, social historians and the curious. It would also be a great gift for Scrabble players anywhere. "

Atlantic Books Today, October 27, 2016