Books Completed: 20
Completion Date: January 20, 2009
Publication Date: March 15, 2007
Reason for Reading: I live in Canada and I was curious! New Author Challenge. 2nd Canadian Challenge.
Ask any Canadian about a distinctly Canadian form of English, and most will offer an enthusiastic Bob-and-Doug-McKenzie 'eh' in response. A passionate few might also bring up the colour vs. color debate or our pronunciations of 'out' and 'about'. And some may point to the ubiquitous Canadian toque as evidence of a language that is all our own. If this is your idea of Canadian English, then it might surprise you that Katherine Barber, Editor-in-Chief of the best-selling Canadian Oxford Dictionary and author of the best-selling Six Words You Never Knew Had Something to Do With Pigs, has written a new book filled with nothing but made-in-Canada vocabulary. Only in Canada You Say highlights more than 1,200 words and phrases that are unique to our neck of the woods. Did you know, for example, that every time you ask for Gravol at the drug store, you're using a word that is unknown anywhere else? That those tasty butter tarts your mother used to make don't exist beyond our borders? Or that there are three distinctly Canadian sex words? And jokes about living in the Great White North aside, it is still pretty interesting to discover that there are 17 Canadian words for ice! Organized thematically, Only in Canada You Say covers Canadian English from coast to coast to coast, with sections dedicated to the things we love to do, where we live, how we get around, and what we wear. The entertaining and informative introductions to each section provide a fresh, often eye-opening, perspective on the reality of Canadian English from Canada's own 'Word Lady', Katherine Barber. Only in Canada You Say maybe 'eh' is just the beginning of this story! 'I always love a good book about Canada, so when I saw this reviewed somewhere I added it to my wish list. It just happened to be on the page that I chose for my library browsing, and the library had it, so I was very happy to finally get around to reading it! Canadian language is an entertaing thing, apparently. I highly enjoyed this book, and I would actually like to own my own copy! I was really surprised about the words that I hear or say all the time that are mostly only said in Canada. They are just common wording for me. I mean, I have always been proud of the fact that I am a Bluenoser (live in Nova Scotia) and that I am a Canuck (I think this one people know). Now, I know some of the words that I use that others might not.
The way this book works is it is broken into large sections and then those large sections are broken into related smaller sections. At the beginning of each large section, the author talks about some of the words that are going to be included in this topic. The intros are actually pretty funny because she says things that I would never even think about. Canadianisms are just common to me, so I never considered what it would sound like for people that are not Canadian to hear them. This goes beyond 'eh', of course. I know that is the most common word associated with Canada, and I have to say, I live in Canada and I hardly ever say 'eh'. It is more common in Central Canada, I think, but I could be wrong!
The first section in the book is called "Canadians Say the Darndest Things". This was probably my favourite section because I found myself trying to remember if I have ever said them before or heard them before. Some are of a historical notion, like 'fuddle duddle', which is claimed to be what Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau said in Parliament one day instead of a profanity. Not a phrase I have used before, but one that I have heard. One of my favourite, and one that I might have uttered before, is 'holy jumpin'. I was also surprised about some of the ones that come from Atlantic Canada. She says that 'sook/sookey baby' is from my neck of the woods. I just assumed everyone says that! Oh, and I said that quite often when I was younger. I am not sure if I have had much reason for it in later years. Then, there is phrases like: 'done like dinner' or 'go to the washroom'. I have used both of those before.
Then, she moves on to Geography, which includes things like the weather. I was really surprised that the phrase 'spring break-up' is largely Canadian. I am looking forward to the 'spring break-up' right about now! The food and drink topic was another favourite. I was both surprised, and not, by food that is Canadian. I know that 'rappie pie' was largely Canadian, but I didn't think about 'butter tarts' or 'blueberry grunt' being only from around here. (Butter tarts are no big loss, but blueberry grunt is awesome! Unless, well, I cook it... It didn't turn out so well.) Drinks was the same. I know that 'double-double' is from Tim Hortons fame, but I was surprised it was Canadian to say 'two-four'. (Believe me, I have heard two-four my entire life! It was particularly common during my university years.)
I learned a lot from this book. I took special note about words and phrases that are supposed to be from my neck of the woods. There were a lot I have never heard before, so no idea who says them! Then, there is the obvious ones like the 'loonie' and the 'toonie'. I know when I was little, I was in the U.S. and my sister asked at a store for a 'loonie'. The man working had no idea what she was talking about! So, if you want to know more about crazy Canadians, this is a great book to see just how different we really are! For those that live in Canada, though, it is just as interesting. I am very glad I took the time to read it, and I probably will have to add a copy to my household in the future.