The roots of the English Language Research Centre (ELRC) lie in research into Newfoundland English that was begun in the 1950s.
After E.R. Seary, a founder of the Canadian Linguistic Association, was appointed to the English department of Memorial University, he and G.M. Story projected a comprehensive enterprise involving regional dialect, folklore, place-names and surnames, a dictionary of Newfoundland biography, edited texts, and proverbs. The Centre’s present Director, W.J. Kirwin, joined the department, and these research efforts, in 1959.
The Dictionary Room, located in the Arts Building, became the centre for the writing of the glossary or dictionary of the regional lexicon, and the repository of many collections. It was formally established in 1986 as the ELRC.
The Centre’s mandate is to encourage and facilitate the investigation of the English language in Newfoundland and Labrador, and to continue research in languages, place-names, and family names.
Besides providing workspace for researchers and students, the Centre houses a reference library, along with extensive collections of primary research materials.
In conjunction with Memorial University’s Digital Archive Initiative (DAI), the Centre is digitizing its large collection of primary lexical files, a portion of which was used in the compilation of the Dictionary of Newfoundland English.