In recent years, Newfoundland has become an increasingly popular tourist destination, helped in part by a great advertising campaign, a popular TV show set in St. John’s, and more recently, the cheap Canadian dollar. One of the things that tourists find interesting about Newfoundland is our unique accent and vocabulary. While most English speaking Canadians speak almost the same way (Nova Scotians’ annoying use of “somewheres” notwithstanding), Newfoundland, since it is an island and was among the first places in North America to be settled, has maintained a unique dialect.
The best example of Newfoundlanders’ unique version of English would be its continued use “ye”, the plural form of you. Anyone who has read Shakespeare knows that English, like almost all other languages, used to have a singular and plural version of the word “you”, such as tu/vous in French. For some reason this died out in most of English speaking world but has been preserved in Newfoundland. The worst example of Newfoundlanders’ unique version of English would be the phrase “fee and chee”, which some townies have started using as slang for fish and chips.
There is not a historical term that has its roots in 16th century English, it is an invention of 21st century townie hipsters with an irrepressible longing to be different just for the sake of being different. If you could go back in time to the 1890s and asked someone for “fee and chee” you would starve to death before anyone figured out what you were asking for. Same goes for the 1990s for that matter. The expression has no roots in Newfoundland culture or history. It was probably invented by some guy in Southlands five years ago and somehow has spread faster than the Zika virus.
Just to be clear, I actually like the invention of new words and phrases. Google should be considered a verb because it is useful and makes sense. “Fee and Chee” is not useful and makes no sense. It has the same number of syllables as fish and chips, so why would you create a slang phrase that is no shorter than what it is replacing? The only valid reason for anyone to use the phrase “fee and chee” is if you forgot to wear your hemp necklace and want to make sure people know that you are a hipster.