Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Talking to Canadians!

Today I was contemplating ordering a new dictionary or two for my much-neglected reference collection, and in my research I stumbled upon the Wikipedia article on Canadian English. Fascinating! It was clearly written by one or more people with a serious interest in linguistics, as it does consider the "eh" phenomenon but goes into considerably more depth. My favourite part:

The ending "er" is often added to the end of words:

"Gooder" means a good thing, as in "that's a gooder". "Header" means to leave, as in "we gotta header". "Giver" means to exert allot of effort, as in "to push the truck out of the ditch you'll have to really giver".

Heh. Awesome. I can't say I really use many of these colloquialisms, although I guess I have probably said the phrase "We gotta header" on occasion-- although my inclination would be to write it as "We gotta head 'er." Also I thought about editing this article to note that the present participle form of "giver" is obviously "givering." Anyway.

I don't think I say "eh," but whenever I talk to Americans I suddenly become hyper-aware of the fact that I MAY HAVE said it.

Also: when I visit my parents in Washington state, everyone I talk to sounds like me, to me. I don't notice an accent. And yet people there know I am not from 'round those parts. Also, while I was at an antique store in Monterey a couple weeks ago a guy asked me if I was from England. So clearly accent-awareness varies from one person to the next.


Candice said...

According to Molson, it's give'r. I grew up in Ontario, and I've lived in Alberta a bit, and the -'r thing seems to be more common in Ontario in general. Although, I didn't realize it WAS a thing until I came back to Canada a couple months ago. Eh seems more of an Ontario/eastern thing, too. In fact, the entire American stereotype for the "Canadian" accent is more Ontario than anything. Western and eastern accents vs. Ontario accents are quite different.

It's strange to have lived or frequently visited so many places where the accents are only so very slightly different (various parts of Ontario, Alberta, Indiana, Illinois, Nova Scotia). You become sensitized to all of the minor differences. I can pin certain people down to a VERY specific location pretty easily. It's also given me a geeky interest in amateur linguistics. Give me a beer or two and I start harassing people about the various consonant and vowel shifts (and specifically the northern cities vowel shift. And also Canadian Raising.

The whole thing with Sarah Palin and her wacko accent was of great interest, too.

So yeah, I'm a nerd. I'm glad somebody else notices this kind of thing.

alea said...

Someone, in my home state, asked me once if I was from Australia. I still have no idea why.

That said, there's definitely a Canadian accent. My linguist ears were buzzing the whole time I lived up there.