Travel adventures.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Canadianisms, Eh!

Since it's the Holidays, and I have some spare time on my hands, I thought it would be fun to make a list of some of the Canadianisms I have learned so far. Having worked in Canada before moving there, I actually learned a lot of these phrases long before I moved. Most of them are fun, but some of them still take a bit of getting used to.

Canadian Slang, Common Words, and Phrases

Eh?: You end a sentence with "Eh" to pose a question. Kind of like saying, "Don't You Think?" Americans sometimes use a term "Huh" at the end of a sentence. In parts of the northern US, people say "Don't you know?" instead. The meanings of "Eh" and "Huh" are similar but not exactly the same. "Eh" is probably one of the most common Canadianisms. You usually phrase your sentence as a statement, but the addition of the "Eh" makes it sort of a rhetorical question.

Hoser: A looser or pathetic person. The term "hoser" probably refers to an era in hockey before the ice resurfacing machine came into use. The losing team had to hose off the ice. Like the very similar term hosehead, the term may also have referred to farmers of the Canadian prairies, who would siphon gas from farming vehicles with a hose during the Great Depression of the 1930s. The expression has since been converted to the verb 'to hose' as in to trick, deceive, or steal - for example: "That card-shark sure hosed me." Hosed has an additional meaning of becoming drunk - for example: "Let's go out and get hosed." Most people outside of Canada were probably introduced to the term hoser in the 1983 film, "The Adventures of Bob & Doug McKenzie: Strange Brew", or just "Strange Brew" as it was called in the US.

Grade 6: Canadians always say their grade in school like "grade 6" and Americans say "6th grade".

Two-Four: A case of beer containing 24 bottles.

This is the official trailer from the US release version of the movie call "Strange Brew". This is a bit of an over exaggeration of the Canadian Accent and much of the stereotypical Canadian Slang. Most Canadians don't end half of their sentences with "Eh". I have never heard an actual Canadian say "Take Off, Eh", except in parody of this movie.

In this clip Bob & Doug McKenzie explain How to Get a Mouse in a Beer Bottle. Notice the use of the term 'Two-Four' to describe a case of beer. And also notice that they say Bob "flunked out of grade 6" and they "hosed" the guy at the beer store. In my opinion, they don't do a very good imitation of the way Canadians pronounce "out". Canadians pronounce it more like "oot".

Canuck: Canadians use "Canuck" as an affectionate or merely descriptive term for their nationality. Other nationalities may use the word as an affectionate, or derogatory, or merely a descriptive term.

Washroom: Americans usually refer to this as the "bathroom" or "toilet". In Canada there has to actually be a bath in the room in order to call it a "bathroom". Makes sense, Eh?

Table: This word when used as a verb means to introduce a topic in a meeting. "I would like to table our quarterly budget." In US meetings, this verb means you want to take a topic off the agenda and delay it until a later meeting.

The Bill: What Canadians ask for at the end of a meal in a restaurant. Americans often ask for the check.

Loonie: Canadian one-dollar coin.

Toonie or Twoonie: Canadian two-dollar coin (since 1996).

Elastic: This means "rubber band" in Canada.

Write (a test): Americans would say "take a test" instead.

Marking (a test): Americans call it grading a test.

Public school: Americans call it elementary school.

Supply teacher: Americans call it a substitute teacher.

College: Americans call it community college or junior college.

University: Americans tend to refer to any college or university as just "college". In Canada, it seems important to differentiate between university and college. I think it may even be important to explain that you are a university dropout instead of a college dropout.

Hydro: Although you might guess this means water, it usually means electricity. As an ignorant American, I was quite shocked to find out you have to wait for the hydro in the data centre before you could turn on the computers.

Serviette: Paper napkin

Track Pants: Americans call these sweat pants.

Runners: Americans call these tennis shoes.

Postal Code: In Canada the postal codes have six characters consisting of both letters and numbers. Usually the postal code is printed with three characters, a space, and then three more characters. For example, I live at "M5V 3V6". I believe there is a unique postal code for every building in the country. In the US they call it a "zip code" and it refers to a large area of postal delivery. Each unique address in the US has a "Zip Plus Four".

Girl Guides: This is something like the girl scouts in the US.

Housecoat: This is your robe or bathrobe.

5-pin Bowling: A sport that involves a smaller ball, and only 5 pins

Mountie: Member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. These officials are somewhat like the FBI. You may remember a Mountie from the TV series "Due North" that was aired in 1994 in the US .

Toque or Tuque: Woollen, usually pointed cap worn in the winter.

1 comment:

Melissa said...

Awesome :D

Hope you enjoyed your time in Canada!