TEFL An unobjective, biased take on the English language

There is no such thing as Canadian English?[it] is a myth, fabricated to reinforce a fragile Canadian identity.


For some, the idea of the English language is a very clear- cut, inarguable point. But for those born outside of the United States, where English has been, in some minds, redefined as American; or outside of the United Kingdom, specifically England, for which the language was dubiously titled, the matter is not so simple. Though it is natural for any language to vary according to region, if that region happens to be the 51st State, as well as being the polite prodigal son of Olde Mother England, or by name, Canada, then an entirely new web of inconsistencies has spun itself. Though all strains have sprung from the same grain, according to, ?Canadian English is a mixture of American, British, and unique Canadianisms?; which, taken as a flat definition, really does nothing but assert the ?superiority? of the U.K.?s and U.S.?s predominant stamps on the language. By ?Canadianisms?, ?the two thousand words or expressions that are native to Canada, or which have a meaning peculiar to or characteristic of Canada,? must be simply implied. (Dane Jurcic, Canadian English/ For example: there are saskatoons, a plump, blue berry (Native Cree), toques (tuques) and toboggans, which are winter caps and sleds, respectively (French Canadian/Metis), and Mounties, a nickname for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, or R.C.M.P., to name just a few. Ask nearly anyone, from nearly everywhere that English is widely spoken, including Canada, and ?eh? (pronounced ay, as in day) is usually the first, and only, ?Canadianism? mentioned. Oddly enough, however, this interjection is far from being unique to this quiet nation. From France to Scotland, England to the American South, and well beyond, eh is commonly used to punctuate an interrogatory, or to emphasize a statement, or even an imperative. However, ?the frequency and context in which it occurs in Canadian speech is remarkably different than both American and British native speakers?, et al. (Jurcic) Here again reference is made to the two staunch gauges of modern English, American and British, which leads into the greatest conundrum Canadians are faced with today: how to spell colour/color. Aside from particular scholars of the bastardized ?Canadian language?, even the most learned of Canadian linguists will pause and scratch their heads before committing to paper a doubtful spelling of centre/center, defence/defense, realise/realize, and so on. Why the self-doubt (pronounced ?dah- oot?, not ?doot?, for those who wish to practice)? Without a clear, consistent delineation on which to base the spellings of such common language, Canadians are perpetually confronted by subtle, ?alternate? spellings of easy terms; which, though not necessarily condoned by, are certainly accepted by such institutions as the public school system, and 7-11 (via resumes, a.k.a. CVs), a venerable convenience store chain known for its broad range of spoken and written English languages. It is permissible, then, in Canada, to?choose your own spelling. ?Whatever [spelling] seems best, is best.? ( Though these cheerful and rather slight discrepancies may suggest Canadian English to be an inferior but versatile and adaptive dialect, it can be rather confusing to sit down at a breakfast table in a house coat/robe/dressing gown, and ask for a serviette/napkin/paper towel/, before excusing one?s self from the table to use the bathroom/toilet/washroom. So, if you do happen to accidentally land yourself in Canada (lay over in Vancouver, eh?), please take pity on the natives. They are a poor lot, and though they may not drape themselves in Red, White and Blue, or fiercely defend their right to ?take tea? at four in the afternoon, they do have their points in pride. As far as language goes you may deem them mongrelized, in a happy breeding kind of way, but Canadians will ?just go ahead and use English for literature, Scotch for sermons, and American for conversation?, while simply calling it Canadian. Eh. (Stephen Leacock /

Author: Sean Jones

Date of post: 2006-07-21