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reef and reif

plnelson 13 Jun 10 - 12:03 PM
BobKnight 13 Jun 10 - 12:58 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 13 Jun 10 - 01:27 PM
Les from Hull 13 Jun 10 - 02:24 PM
plnelson 13 Jun 10 - 03:00 PM
curmudgeon 13 Jun 10 - 09:05 PM
Howard Jones 14 Jun 10 - 11:03 AM
Les from Hull 14 Jun 10 - 11:41 AM
GUEST,^&* 15 Jun 10 - 03:14 AM
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Subject: reef and reif
From: plnelson
Date: 13 Jun 10 - 12:03 PM

Many written-down versions of "The Banks of Newfoundland" list the following lines

We'll scrape her and we'll scrub her
with holy stone and sand,
And we'll think of them cold nor'westers
on the Banks of Newfoundland.

So now it's reef and reif, me boys
With the Canvas frozen hard
and this mountain pass every Mother's son
on a ninety foot topsail yard


On Mudcat's own Glossary of Scottish Words "Reif" is listed as "thievery" although it's unclear how that's related to the intended meaning in the song.   Also the The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia lists "reif" as an alternate spelling for "reef" when it means scabies.

Some other sources just spell the lyrics "reef and reef"? Any ideas which is correct? Thanks in advance for any thoughts or opinions.


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Subject: RE: reef and reif
From: BobKnight
Date: 13 Jun 10 - 12:58 PM

"Reef" also means roof, in N.E. scotland, but given the context, I don't see it fitting here.


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Subject: RE: reef and reif
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 13 Jun 10 - 01:27 PM

Whose written down versions?
GEST has 8 versions, only "Up the Pond" has that line. Played at the St. Johns Regatta, it may mean nothing, just 'sounds good'. Some may have copied it.

GEST Songs of Newfoundland and Labrador


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Subject: RE: reef and reif
From: Les from Hull
Date: 13 Jun 10 - 02:24 PM

I think it should be reef and reef. Reif doesn't mean anything relevant either on or off a ship as far as I can see.


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Subject: RE: reef and reif
From: plnelson
Date: 13 Jun 10 - 03:00 PM

Whose written down versions?

When I Google "reef and reif" for "Banks of Newfoundland" I get 26 hits. But the other details of the songs often don't match, so I assume they're not simple copies.   

For instance, in one they're washing mud off the dead man's face, in another it's blood. After they do that, sometimes it's
Heave to beat the band
other times it's
and haul or you'll be damned,

In one of them Jack Lynch is from Ballynahinch, in another from Malnahinch.   

... and so forth.    Of course this is the nature of folk music.   As I mentioned recently, I'm collecting lyrics to put into the "lyrics" tags of my MP3 traditional folk music collection.   I always start by Googling to find the closest match to the words the singer is singing, to minimize the editing I have to do.   But I would say at least 90% of the time I can never find a perfect match.

Anyway, I think I'll assume "reif" is an error that got propagated because people were unsure of their nautical knowledge and were afraid to change it.   Recently I ran into another example of this where I found several (but still a minority of) instances of lyrics in a different song quoted as:

It's on we all sail wester likewise your oilskin frock

My guess is that it was supposed to be "sou'wester" but the "sail" version got propagated through the magic of the internet.


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Subject: RE: reef and reif
From: curmudgeon
Date: 13 Jun 10 - 09:05 PM

To "reef" sail is to furl and lash it to the "topsl yard" or any other yard. The crew did this while standing on a single line which they would "mount" and sometimes "pass" another shipmate to do the job.

"Paddy Doyle" was the only shanty to be used only for this task - Tom


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Subject: RE: reef and reif
From: Howard Jones
Date: 14 Jun 10 - 11:03 AM

That entire verse is gibberish - what has a "mountain pass" to do with sailing on the Grand Banks? This version makes more sense:

So now it's reef and reef, me boys
With the canvas frozen hard
And it's mount and pass every mother's son
On a ninety-foot tops'l yard

http://www.kinglaoghaire.com/site/lyrics/song_656.html

Lyrics posted on the internet are often full of misheard or misunderstood words - this is particularly the case when the words are transcribed from a recording by someone who may not be a native English speaker. Dick Gaughan has an entertaining example on his website of a song mistranscribed from Scots which makes absolutely no sense at all. Unfortunately the errors then get reproduced.


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Subject: RE: reef and reif
From: Les from Hull
Date: 14 Jun 10 - 11:41 AM

Founder plate - a triangular plate with three holes in it to allow one line to be attached to two.

'a flounder plate can also be called a "deadman's face." Stan Hugill writes about a focsle shanty with the lyric "scrub the mud off the deadman's face" which some folkies have changed to "scrub the blood off the deadman's face" which is far more dramatic if a bid nonsensical.'


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Subject: RE: reef and reif
From: GUEST,^&*
Date: 15 Jun 10 - 03:14 AM

which is far more dramatic if a bid nonsensical.'

QED!


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