I've been browsing lists of Canadianisms. I'm always amazed when I do that - a mixture of "you mean other people don't say that?" and "but that's just another case where we use the British term, not the American". So it's all in the perspective. I'd like to see a list of Canadianisms complied by someone from the UK - I bet it would be entirely unlike he ones I'm seeing here, which are generally written by or for Americans. Mind you, the British just tend to think we talk like Americans. Which we don't, of course. Not at all. Absolutely not!
This is what got me started: An American's Guide to Canada: Canadianisms
Don't Americans have Kraft Dinner? What do they call it?
A lot of these lists say "pop" is our term for "soft drinks", and I've heard that word used, though I'd never use it. I thought that was an Americanism. What do Americans say? Soda pop?
I knew Americans didn't have Smarties, but don't they have Coffee Crisp? That's downright sad. I think I should send care packages to all my American friends now. (Or maybe just go and get a Coffee Crisp for myself...)
I don't use "coriander" and "cilantro" to mean the same thing - I tend to use "coriander" when it's dried in a bottle, "cilantro" when it's fresh. Maybe it's because we get our bottles of coriander from the States?
The Wikipedia article
has interesting notes about the "low-back merger and the Canadian Shift" in words like "cot" and "caught". I never figured that one out - can't even hear it. I assume it's the same as "dawn" and "don", which I have been known to get American friends to repeat over and over so I can hear the difference. It baffles me. Similarly, I can't hear a difference between my pronunciation of "out and about" and the average American's way of saying it.
They also say, "Some older speakers still maintain a distinction between whale and wail, and do and dew." Well, of course - doesn't everyone? I'll have to listen carefully to these words now. They sound quite different to me.
I already knew "eavestrough" was a Canadianism, but I didn't know about cooking onions, keener, knapsack, laneway, deke, fire hall, whitener
- common words - and do other people really not say Jesus Murphy
? This site
makes "eavestrough" two words, which is wrong. An American Guide to Canadianisms
has corner store
: a phrase so common I've probably used it elsewhere about thinking about it. Don't Americans get in a lineup when they are waiting for something? (I struggled with that one when I lived in England.)
I don't personally say "housecoat", I say "dressing gown". When I hear "housecoat" I tend to think of a loose garment, perhaps with buttons or a zipper, that you'd wear casually around the house - not just when you're on the way to the shower. A "dressing gown" has no fastener but a belt to tie it closed. To illustrate:
- Dressing gown - and the one in this picture just happens to be identical to the one I wear every day.
A Nanaimo Bar doesn't, to my mind, resemble a Brownie - it doesn't involve cake. I like Nanaimo Bars, and strongly dislike Brownies. Butter tarts are the best dessert ever. (Well... maybe not quite as good as crème brulée, but close.) Do Americans not have sugar pie? It's a sort of Quebec specialty, but I thought they had it in the North-East US. "Chip truck" strikes me as an odd inclusions - surely they have these in the States, too? And in England? What do they call them? "Fries truck"? "Chip van"? I think, but can't prove it, that the British are more likely to differentiate between trucks and vans (or, rather, vans and lorries) than we are.This site of Funny Canadian Sayings
made me laugh. Canadian humour. I don't believe they're all really sayings, though - just expressive jokes. Mind you, I've heard people say a number of them.
Most of these lists omit a few things I'd put on my list:
- First Nations
- "grade one" instead of "first grade". I messed this one up in the first fanfic story I ever put online - an X-Files story - and that mistake was the first thing the Americans commented on. Usually the only thing.
- Multiculturalism, which is used somewhat differently here than in the rest of the world.
- Bank machine - an ATM. Once in Ireland I wanted to ask where to find one, and couldn't think of an alternate word. The poor girl I was trying to ask had no idea what I was talking about.
- Wicket. I'm not sure what the US word for this is. It's where you get service at a window, as in a bank or box office.
- Enumeration lists
- Electric kettles
- Humidex and wind chill factor
- "Thank you kindly." I'm not even sure it's a Canadianism, though it's certainly a phrase I hear. I had the impression it was an Irish phrase brought over to Canada (or the US?) by early immigrants.
- HST - simply meaning that the websites listing GST only haven't been updated.
Can you think of other things you'd include? Someone told me recently that glasses like the ones I just bought - which I called "multifocal glasses" - were called "progressives" in the States, but I couldn't find documentation on that. Looking up multifocals got me a bunch of Australian sites - an example of the Australians and Canadians thinking alike?