Origins of Sayings

B'y (Newfie)

The word b'y, pronounced 'bye' and meaning 'boy'. Commonly heard in the expression Yis b'y (Yes boy), meaning good job, it is also used in standard sentences: What're the b'ys at?

An alternative, though speculative, interpretation links the word with the traditional economy of the island, the fishery. Newfoundland's fishery has gone through multiple stages distinguished by the status of the owners of fishing equipment and the residential status of the fisher. The interpretation conflicts with accepted wisdom and is difficult to historically test given the social characteristics of the island at the relevant time.

The residential fishery solidified as the dominant form of fishery by 1815. It was immediately preceded by the byeboat fishery, an arrangement where a year-long resident fished using equipment owned by a resident of Britain. Simultaneously, migrant fishers (those who returned to England after the close of the season) were present.

The early byeboat fishermen could have been referred to as "b'ys" by the migrant fisherman. Example: "Who is that man?" - "He's one of the b'ys."

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