Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Canadian Words....

I am told that when I came south I had a "cute" but fairly thick eastern Ontario speech pattern ...so says my spouse anyway. I hesitate to identify what I had as an accent....as far as I am concerned I had no accent then and I still don't, but others around me seem to disagree with that, sometimes vehemently. However, there is no doubt I use differing pronunciations and inflections than folks do down here. In some cases, I use different words to describe the same item or situation than would be normal in the south.

A (totally made up) example of this, " I sat down on the chesterfield to pull on my toque and mukluks before braving the trip across the frozen muskeg. Eh, while you're up, can you bring me a double double ?"

In spite of my sentence, I'm (mostly) a pretty easy guy to understand. About the only word that HAS led me astray way down here in Dixie is, "hydro". In Ontario, the provincial electricity provider before deregulation (ie. for most of my life) was Ontario Hydro. Given this bit of background, it's a fairly easy leap to understanding why over the last hundred years or so everyone in my part of Ontario uses "hydro" in place of "electric" (ie. hydro bill, hydro pole, hydro line, and, all by itself "hydro" or "the hydro").

Hydro is a versatile kind of word, and it continues to slip into my everyday usage without any thought on my part. If you add swear words to it, it becomes even more versatile ! :) The problem is that without the bit of background I gave, nobody down here has the faintest idea what I'm talking about when I use it in conversation which can lead to some interesting impasses during lulls. At various times, I've been asked whether hydro meant pole dancing (?), operating a space ship (??), losing control of one's car on water (at least this makes some sense...ie. hydroplaning...though why I'd leave planing out is beyond me) or poling a canoe through a dam (???). Some folks at a party even thought I was referring to myself when I said that the hydro had been out ! :/

At any rate, one word seldom matters all that much, unless it's referring to something I got up to in my youth with someones daughter when her father burst into the room, and then it matters a very great deal, but that, my friends, is another story. :)


Funder said...

LOL, I once knew a redneck horse named Hydro. As in, hydroponically grown marijuana. So pot is the first thing that comes to my mind when someone says hydro!

Laura said...

That is quite the sentence you used at the beginning :-) Makes we want to stop by Timmy's on the way home. The weather is heading in tuque direction too, so your timing is good!

Don't forget about loonie and toonie...those have garnered a few laughs south of the border for me.

Jason said...

Funder....that's one I never thought about !


I'd KILL for a double double right now. The nearest Timmies is in Middletown, Ohio; halfway between Cincinatti and Dayton....three hundred and fifty miles away !

Funder said...

Of course not - you're a sheltered Canadian! ;)

Funder said...

Oh, and what are yall talking about? Something from Tim Hortons, I assume. Out here "double double" means a double-patty double-cheese burger from In-N-Out, which is a glorious regional burger chain. All this talk about your double-doubles is making me want a burger!

Jason said...

Funder...you forgot "special" ! :)

Double double is Tim Horton's coffee with 2 cream and 2 sugar.

Mmmmmmm !