I Am Canadian … Eh?


A few days ago I made a bit of a gaff, which I hoped nobody had noticed. But since someone did, and wanted to comment on what went missing, I’ll make an attempt at putting it back up. And I won’t go back with the intention of doing a tiny bit of deliberate editing, resulting in a major amount of accidental deleting. Oy!

What went missing was a paragraph or two about Canadian English vs. American English, inspired by my chat with the Texas police officer the other day. I wouldn’t have said no to the chat anyway, probably, but he got on my good side immediately by saying that he knew that I wasn’t American from my accent. Oh you lovely man! Not that I have anything against American accents, but the assumption that I’m American, when I’m not, tends to provoke a slight huff. Rather like Richard being accused of being Australian, just because he throws “mate” around quite liberally. Which is definitely red rag to a bull time. Not because he has any bones to pick with Australians, except when they crow about beating England at cricket, but he’s an Englishman, end of story.

North Americans, especially, should be able to tell the difference between a Canadian and an American when they speak. Sure, there are different Canadian accents, just as there are different American accents, but no Canadian speaks like an American, even if we don’t throw the dead giveaway clues into a conversation. Like zed, rather than zee, for instance. Oh, and just for the record, Canadians do NOT pronounce “out and about” as “oot and aboot”. I don’t know who came up with that notion, but it’s utter nonsense. Sure, our version is much more clipped than the American version, but it’s still out and about. Just not owwwt and abowwwt.

While I’m on the subject, I could also do a little clarification about the pronunciation of my name. Actually, I’ve done this before, and probably shouldn’t do it again, but I’ll repeat it just this once for those who missed it the first time. Of course I realize that nobody means any harm when they pronounce Eleanor as El-i-nor’, with heavy emphasis on the “or” bit. That’s the American way, and it has probably crept into Canadian usage to some degree. But it still sets my teeth on edge ever so slightly, as it’s not my name. The Canadian pronunciation is El’-a-ner. Like Ella, with a “ner” stuck on the end. But I’ll also answer to El’-ner, as those from my old stomping ground tend to drop the middle syllable. I prefer the three-syllable version, but I’ll make an exception for people from that particular part of south-western Manitoba.

At one time I would answer to Ellie, too, but not anymore. Well, I’ll answer to it, but generally with a glare. Only my mom and her family used that nickname, as my dad hated it, and it totally lost favour when Mom used to holler it up the stairs when boyfriends called for me, much to their amusement. My first husband also used it, knowing that I disliked it, which added to the hatred factor in a big way. My favourite cousin still calls me Ellie-Belle, but that’s a whole different matter. He’s the only one who uses it, and it’s a definite term of endearment, so I let him away with it. I’m probably the only person in the world who gets away with calling him Dougie, so fair’s fair.

But back to the Canadian vs. American accent bit, if you’re a serious scholar of such things and want all of the minute details, this site should be very informative. But for everyone else, just trust me, there are glaring differences, and you don‘t have to be a linguistics expert to detect them. Really. 🙂

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