From the National Post:
The strange tale of the man who was shot point-blank for mispronouncing ‘Newfoundland’ — in the Old West
The Webster’s had not even been thumbed through when mill worker William Atcheson, 23, threw a punch. Teamster John P. Davis recovered and, “true to his Texan breeding and education,” drew a revolver and fired point-blank into his assailant’s abdomen.
The year was 1876 and Davis and Atcheson had just drawn first blood in a dispute that has divided Newfoundlanders ever since.
“One wanted to put the accent on ‘found,’ and the other on ‘land,’ ” said the Rocky Mountain News, which reported on the unusual brawl in its March 29, 1876 edition.
While the modern “noo-fn-land” is the undisputed leader in the battle over the correct pronunciation of the word Newfoundland, it arose out of a pitched struggle of rival inflections.
“It’s a generational thing, but just exactly what the dividing line is I don’t know, but if you’re born after 1970, chances are you primarily put the stress on the first syllable,” says Philip Hiscock, a folklorist at Memorial University and an expert on the Newfoundland dialect.
“And if you’re born before 1950, your primary pronunciation would be to stress the last syllable.”
The 1939 guidelines for the Broadcasting Corporation of Newfoundland read “all three syllables are to be given equal value, but a slight stressing of the final syllable will be permissible.” In essence, early 20th century Newfoundlanders would have received their news from broadcasters who favoured the British “new found land.”
But while pockets of “new-found-land” speakers persisted into the late 20th century, by the Great Depression young Newfoundlanders already considered it outdated and wrong.
It was Joey Smallwood, the province’s influential first premier, who successfully championed “nyoo-fn-land,” antecedent to the version we know today, said Hiscock.
More at the link.