7 Canadian Words I Just Can’t Seem To Kick
Written by Jaillan Yehia
International linguistic differences, eh? Just how much fun are they? Lately I’ve been chatting to some Canucks on patios around Vancouver with a cold beer, discussing just how many Canadian words seem humorous to a foreigner like me. These have gotta be the top 7, right?
A certain breed of Londoner might say ‘innit’ a lot at the end of a sentence. In South Africa it’s ‘izzit’ and in Arabic the word ‘yani’ peppers sentences. In Canada it’s ‘right’. Well sometimes it is, and the rest of the time it’s definitely ‘eh!’
No other nation says ‘eh’ the way they do in Canada, eh?
It’s omnipresent, pervasive and inseparable from my memories of Canada – these two little letters define Canadian speech. Plus in terms of tourist T Shirt slogans, ‘Canada,eh?’ is right up there with ‘My friend/mum/dad/boyfriend went to London and I all I got was this lousy T Shirt’.
Until I went to Canada I didn’t actually know that Canuck was Canadian slang for, well a Canadian. The highlight of my time in the country was my Canadian friend announcing ‘Oh you’re a real Canuck now!’ I’ll take that as a compliment.
It just isn’t possible to overstate the love affair that exists between Canadians and patios. Patios in this case roughly translated as beer gardens or indeed any small patch of outside space adjoining a bar or restaurant. The ultimate goal being to facilitate the enjoyment of alcoholic refreshments during the all too brief summer in an outdoor location. So far so very British.
Patio is quite simply the word of my trip to Canada and cannot be ignored. Think of our dogged determination to go to the seaside on a scorching weekend and double it, and you have the strength of feeling that exists for finding a spot in the sun on the humble patio.
I spent some of my formative years up north, where children were bairns, people went out on the toon and fizzy drinks were known as glasses of pop, so it seemed a quaint little blast from the past for me to hear pop being offered up to me for the first time since I was a wee bairn myself.
I’m not the first to notice or single out most Canadians’ super-tuned sense manners and predilection to apologise even when it’s you that’s bumped into them. If the defining word of a trip to Canada is ‘eh’, the defining emotion is one of genuine heartfelt sorrow for having inconvenienced someone in any way, usually followed by a good 5-10 minute chat about how they are and how their day is going, just to show how sorry you really are.
I’ve googled it and I still don’t know why Canadians call Doner Kebabs ‘Donairs’. All I can say is that it makes me think of Donna Air and frankly that’s really weird as pretty blond lasses and big chunks of greasy meat aren’t two images that usually go together. I’ll be chuckling about this one for a while.
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