It’s not exactly an international incident, but the use of the term “Newfie” in a tweet promoting Anthony Bourdain's visit to Newfoundland and Labrador on Sunday's episode of Parts Unknown has generated a lively discussion about the meaning of the term and its use. The tweet, since deleted, came from the Parts Unknown account, which shared an article and said, "Embrace the Newfies as they are." The show apologized after several readers weighed in that the term is considered a slur; the show also made clear Bourdain wasn't involved in the tweet and said it would "stick to Newfoundlanders going forward." James Baker, a sociologist at Ontario's McMaster University, discussed the word's origins with the CBC last year.
He said it may have been born during WWII when the US was building a naval base on Newfoundland’s Avalon Peninsula and a lieutenant used the word derisively to describe locals who had quit the project. Others have run afoul of the term. Walmart, for example, was criticized when it sold T-shirts with "Newfie" on them and at least one politician has gotten into trouble for using the term. Baker notes that Newfoundlanders are more likely to take offense when the word is used by outsiders and on social media. But acceptance of the word is growing and younger Newfoundlanders are even using it as a term of endearment. Linguistics professor Paul De Decker of Memorial University of Newfoundland tells GlobalNews, "It would be great if we're now at the time, and maybe this is one episode ... where the term can take on what we call amelioration—it takes on a positive aspect." (Read more Anthony Bourdain stories.)