Tuesday, January 25, 2011

How to speak Canadian: vol. 2

When I wrote my first volume of "How to speak Canadian," I figured it would be a while before I compiled enough terminology for a second installment. I was wrong.

We Americans are ignorant. We're so hung up on our own weird vernaculars of "y'all" and "duck, duck, gray duck" that we don't realize how unique the language is with our neighbors to the north. There's a different set of linguistic rules out here in the Maritimes that we know nothing about. And that's unacceptable. So buckle down, kids. It's time to learn.

First of all, we have a cultural food item. It's called poutine. To make it, start with a layer of french fries, then add melted cheese and gravy. It's very popular and totally grosses me out. Open-minded travelers should try new things, but I can't make myself eat this. Sorry, Canada.

Next on the list is a simple slang term. As you know, macaroni and cheese is a staple of collegiate diets everywhere, and Cape Breton is no exception. However, the denizens of the island do not say the familiar "mac-n-cheese" of the states. They say KD. Obviously, this is an acronym for Kraft Dinner, but some Americans are dweebs who need this spelled out for them. Not me, though... ahem.

Last but not least, I've picked up bits and pieces of vocabulary in class. First of all, there are no grades here. There are marks, and they are given in percentage form. This blew my sad little ABCDF mind. It also amused my tech writing classmates, who are apparently the most common witnesses to my vernacular blunders.

Another thing I've noticed is how people reference other class periods. Instead of saying "last class," or "next time we meet," my professors all say "last day," or "next day." When assigning homework, they will say, "Please read chapter four for next day," or when referring to a previous class, they will say, "Remember the exercise we did last day?" This seems minor, but it's very noticeable and a bit startling until you get used to it.

For my Canadian readers: if you feel like I'm leaving anything out, please post suggestions in the comments!

Everyone else, I hope you feel properly educated. Keep reading, and see you next day!



  1. poutin is actually not that bad.... in small portions. YOU CAN DO IT!

  2. Your missing out on the poutine!! Try it!!

  3. poutine is not made with melted cheese

    if you get real Canadian Poutine it is made with cheese curds

  4. I stumbled onto your blog doing a search for Poutine so I could send a pic to someone I talk to in Florida. She had no idea what Poutine is either.. (not sure why I'm capitalizing it... but since I started, I guess I'll be consistent!) and the thought of it.. well.. I don't think she'll be running out any time soon to make it!

    Although a friend of mine from San Diego insists on trying it when he comes to visit. Oh, and someone I chat with in Australia was intrigued enough to actually try to make it... I looked at the end result she created...umm... A for effort, but I don't think that it went over real well!

    I've bookmarked your blog and will check back in to read some more (I have read more than just this post)... What a great idea! I'm glad that you are enjoying your stay on this side of the border. I visited Cape Breton for the first time last summer, and it's an amazing place! I've always wanted to see the Cabot Trail, and wow... camped in Baddeck and (brain fart... ugh... can't think of it off the top of my head... it'll come to me.. maybe).. anyway, it's a gorgeous place!

    KD is not unique to the island... No one says "Kraft Dinner".. well.. not usually..

    One of the other things that you might have come across is the difference between "writing the test" and "taking the test"... A friend of mine in Texas was always trying to correct me.. saying that I was taking a test.. only the professor writes it.. the students take it... yeah.. no one says "taking a test" up here... :-)

    Look forward to reading more!

  5. oh man poutine is amazing an i will forever love it *o*