Canadian Spelling & Accents

The other day I was chatting with my American buds and someone made a comment about the way I spelled a word. I can't remember which word but while they spelled it "er" I spelled it "re". As in center/centre.

I hadn't noticed for a couple of reasons. One, I read a lot. Authors from Canada, UK and America use their unique idioms, slang and spelling and you just pick it up that way. Also, we deal with American culture all the time so I don't notice the way you spell it just as I don't notice I'm spelling it the Canadian way. So, if I'm not seeing it, I'm also not making a judgement about who is spelling it correctly and who isn't. Admittedly it would be a glaring difference if you've only ever seen a word spelled one way. We're both right and I see the word as right, either way.

We also have French on our labeling, just as Americans probably have Spanish. It's illegal not to have the two languages on our labels. So I pretty much know the French version of every brand's product line with which you might be familiar.

We call this KD or Kraft Dinner

When we say "mac 'n' cheese" we are talking about the homemade version using real cheddar.

You can't help but absorb French when you see it all the time. So it's really no big thing when I break out the occasional French expression or word. We all do it up here. I suppose it might sound exotic but it really isn't. I can't speak French anymore. Probably a bit of time spent immersed in it would bring it back quickly but where and when is that going to happen? You have to use it or you lose it like anything else.

Here are some example of products you will recognize with French labeling.

Oo la la classique!

Now do you get Ogden Nash's comment from his Strawberry poem:
"...only le bon Dieu can coin a fraise"?

Beurre d'arachide (burr d'air ah SHIDE)

Examples of chip flavours you might not have. Poulet roti!!

Cornichons = pickle

Sauce au piment, fait avec du vinaigre! Mmm boy!

Also, in Canada, the generation before me uses the word "serviette" for napkin. I think it's a British thing maybe because Canada, the UK, Australia and South Africa use this word.

My parents use this word to avoid saying "napkin" because there's only one kind of napkin and that's the feminine/sanitary kind and my mother would rather die than admit such a thing exists. Serviette is the French word for napkin and it's on every package of any type of napkin anywhere in Canada.

Mon Dieu, Mother, women have periods. So what? The End.

Here is a list of words we use differently. Different spelling here.

I love accents. I love that someone might think I have one. (Sadly, I don't)

Today, I've read a lot of "how to speak Canadian" pages while researching Canadian spellings and I can assure you I don't know anyone who talks like how the writers of these web sites seem to think we talk.

For example, according to the pages out there, we are supposedly pronouncing the city of Calgary: Cal-gree.  No. No we don't. People from here pronounce it: CAL'-gur-ee and people not from here pronounce it: Cal-GARY' like a guys name. We know who the native Calgarians are based on that.

We don't say: Tooze-dee for Tuesday. Everyone one I have ever known says Tooze-day like everyone I've ever heard say it on American TV. I just asked a couple of Canadians if they have EVER heard a Canadian say: Tuesdee or Mondee and they said they have never heard that in their lives and one of them is really, really old.

I acknowledge 'abowt' or 'howse'. I say it. But, none of us say 'aboot' or 'hoose'. It's so foreign to us that when we're being spoofed, and that usually consists of someone saying "aboot" a lot, we don't get it. I sit and wonder why someone is mis-pronouncing "about" for a half second. Then I realize "Oh...that's supposed to be Canadian...".

We say "whatEVER" exactly the same as you do.

I think these web site owners are composing a list of how to speak Canadian by listening to spoofs of Americans trying to sound like Canadians. They're doing it wrong. You know how they talked in Fargo? That's what you're saying we sound like. That's not Canadian. It's...I dunno, Fargoese?

I can pick out a Maritime accent and can even narrow down which Maritime province they're probably from. Newfies (residents from Newfoundland) are most distinct and also have many idioms and slang terms that are closer to Scotland and Ireland than Canada. It's quite charming. Other than that, we all sound the same. Boringly the same.


Tonya said...

I was very sad to learn that Dexter lied to me about how you say cheese omelette in French. Apparently, omelette du fromage is incorrect. What else has Dexter's Lab lied about?

Tonya said...

Oh, and ketchup potato chips? Barf.

Frimmy said...

Oh I agree but they're very popular here. I don't even use ketchup on my fries. (which I grew up calling 'chips') I use salt and vinegar.

Re: Dexter
You should say "omelette au fromage" if you want to say it correctly BUT maybe Dexter's Lab was intentionally saying incorrectly as a nod to Steve Martin and his "omelette du fromage", taken from a skit he had where he believed he was speaking French but slaughtering it in reality.

Tonya said...

Ooo, I don't know that skit. Vinegar on french fries? How interesting.

Anonymous said...

Vinegar on fries isn't common? Who knew.

And truly Frimmy, I don't know what you are talking ABOOT.

Je ne sais pas.


Frimmy said...

Moi aussi


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