12.16.2006

goal

When will I feel Canadian? We've talked about this here, and I think it's very interesting - questions of nationality, identity, how the two are the same or different.

When we were in Peru, our first time out of North America since emigrating here, people asked, "¿De qué país es usted?". What country are you from? We were so happy to say "de Canada"! And that's true, we are from Canada.

But when will I be Canadian?

Citizenship questions aside, here's my theory. I'll know I'm Canadian when I pronounce "Ottawa" and "hockey" the way people do here.

Those words are a dead giveaway. How do you guys do it?

45 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi L-girl,
I've been waiting for an opportunity to share this with you and I'm sure someone has already. This post may be my shot.

http://home7.swipnet.se/~w-72891/CanadianClub/CCsales/ad.html

It's an ad campaign for Molson Canadian beer from a few years back. It may help you determine if you are Canadian yet. I suppose it's a checklist. Oh and if you already know how to order coffee at "Tim's" then you're already Canadian.

Have a great day!
imarker

L-girl said...

Thanks, imark!

Oh yes, many people sent me this, but a long time ago, before we moved. It hasn't been in comments for a while. Thanks for bringing it back!

Sadly (or not), I don't drink coffee from Tim's, but then, I know lots of Canadians who don't either. After all, it's just a branch of Wendy's now. I prefer Second Cup - still Canadian, and I can put my milk in myself. :)

James said...

I wasn't really aware that there were any other ways to pronounce them.

Now try "Outaouais" (that's the region on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River -- same word, different translitteration)

L-girl said...

I wasn't really aware that there were any other ways to pronounce them.

I wish I could explain it. All the vowel sounds are different.

I say "Ah-tah-wah".

You guys say more like "Aw-taw-waw." But that's an exaggeration. The difference is really more subtle.

Same with hockey. I say "hah-kee". People here say something more like "haw-key". If I try to imitate it, it sounds like hee haw. :)

M@ said...

Accent, schmaccent -- once you've had someone complain to you, in a thick Chinese accent, about these damned immigrants, you'll realise that the normal signifiers don't apply. That was my clue, anyhow. (I'm happy to say that this was an employer, not family.)

I know what you mean about your pronunciation though -- not because I've heard it in your speech but because I have some cousins in upstate NY whose pronunciation is quite different from mine, and you've described it exactly.

Anyhow, I think it's far more important to pronounce "zee" as "zed" to establish yourself as a full Canadian. "Lay-Zed-Boy? The hell is that!?" It might be a pretty difficult shift though -- do you ever see Z and think "zed"?

L-girl said...

It might be a pretty difficult shift though -- do you ever see Z and think "zed"?

It's the most difficult shift. I do all (or most, anyway) of the spelling changes without thinking about it now. In fact, when I write a story for a US publisher, I have to remove the "u" from favourite during editing!

But z is still zee to me. (Sounds like a bad Gershwin tune.)

Part of my job is transcribing tapes, and when lawyers spell proper names, I'm always surprised to hear "zed".

I guess we've been saying those letters since we first learned to read, and unlearning them is hard. Or maybe impossible?

L-girl said...

Accent, schmaccent -- once you've had someone complain to you, in a thick Chinese accent, about these damned immigrants, you'll realise that the normal signifiers don't apply.

Ha! That's a universal phenomenon, though. We Were Here First -ism.

Woti-woti said...

Always have something to say about the weather. No matter how inane, mundane or self-evident, you must have a take on the weather.

James said...

How 'bout pronouncing Toronto, as in the old UofT football cheer: "Gimme a T, Gimme an R, Gimme an A, Gimme an N, Gimme an A! Go, Trana!"

Or the King's song: "Hey, Donna! Still wanna? You said to look you up when I was in Trana."

James said...

Ha! That's a universal phenomenon, though. We Were Here First -ism.

The very first time I saw Jon Stewart was him doing his stand-up routine. One of his bits was about his grandfather going through processing at Ellis Island and, once he was through the process, turning and yelling at the people behind him, "Hey, you foreigners! Get out and stop ruining my country!"

L-girl said...

Always have something to say about the weather. No matter how inane, mundane or self-evident, you must have a take on the weather.

Oy. Is that ever true. Not one of Canada's finest qualities, I'd say. People in the US talk about the weather, for sure, but it's nowhere near the obsession as it is here.

How 'bout pronouncing Toronto, as in the old UofT football cheer:

Ha, those are good.

I can barely bring myself to say "Tronto" or "Tronno" as most people here do. Most Mississaugans say "Missauga".

I sound more like Mick Jagger on the El Mocambo side of Love You Live: "I betchoo think you're the only woman in TOE RON TOE."

L-girl said...

One of his bits was about his grandfather going through processing at Ellis Island

Do you know, in response to M@'s comment, I was going to refer to my grandfather - an immigrant, of course - looking down on the immigrants who had been in the US for five minutes les. Good thing I didn't - Stewart's is much funnier!

deang said...

Hearing Canadians pronounce Ottawa was surprising to me, too. I pronounce it (still) something like AH-duh-wuh, with the first syllable slightly lengthened compared to the last two. If I heard right, Canadians tended to give it the same rhythm the word Wichita has, lengthening the final syllable, something like AH-tah-waah, without the relaxed schwas of my American pronunciation.

sister.susie said...

I've lived in Canada for 20+ yrs now and I still don't say "zed". Though, "a-to-zed" no longer sounds odd to me.

I can't say I ever had a defining moment as to when I felt Canadian, though know it was long before I legally became a Canadian. It was more a realization that I thought like a Canadian - saw the world from Canada's point of view - that is, NOT from the centre of the universe, but as just another country on this planet.

I guess the language subtleties must sneak up on a person, too. I was at a family reunion in upstate NY a couple of years ago and someone said, "You sound different. Gee -- you speak like a Canadian!"

I thought that was interesting because I never consciously tried to speak differently. It just happened over time, I guess.

Language is endlessing interesting, eh?

sister.susie said...

Re: Canadians talking endlessly about the weather...

Um, I'm guilty of that. I live in "Winter-peg" and I walk to and from work. The weather is often the first thing I think about each day. A girl need to know how many protective layers to wear, starting with the long johns... :-)

James said...

Do you know, in response to M@'s comment, I was going to refer to my grandfather - an immigrant, of course - looking down on the immigrants who had been in the US for five minutes les. Good thing I didn't - Stewart's is much funnier!

Stewart's routine was hilarious, but I hardly did it any justice at all.

And if you're talking about how Canadians pronounce things, you gotta spend some time in Newfoundland (off the Cape) or Cape Breton. ;)

L-girl said...

If I heard right, Canadians tended to give it the same rhythm the word Wichita has, lengthening the final syllable, something like AH-tah-waah, without the relaxed schwas of my American pronunciation.

Ah-ha! Yes! Dean has hit on a crucial bit of it.

It's not just that the Canadian pronounciation is more AW than AH. It's also the longer last syllable. Aw-taw-waah as opposed to my ah-duh-wa.

My pronounciation guide is Peter Mansbridge. :) For those who don't know him, Mansbridge is CBC News's chief correspondent. He anchors their big nightly news show, "The National".

When I can say Ottawa like Peter Mansbridge, I'll be Canadian. ;-)

L-girl said...

I can't say I ever had a defining moment as to when I felt Canadian, though know it was long before I legally became a Canadian.

That's cool. :)

How long did you live here before you were a citizen, if you don't mind me asking?

It was more a realization that I thought like a Canadian - saw the world from Canada's point of view - that is, NOT from the centre of the universe, but as just another country on this planet.

I find that shift a huge relief.

I was at a family reunion in upstate NY a couple of years ago and someone said, "You sound different. Gee -- you speak like a Canadian!"

That's what I'm waiting for! I'm also not consciously trying to sound different, and I expect at some point it will just happen. Allan thinks I use "eh?" on purpose, but I don't. I've just picked it up from people around me.

And I agree, language is so fascinating.

How long have you been in Canada, sister.susie?

L-girl said...

And if you're talking about how Canadians pronounce things, you gotta spend some time in Newfoundland (off the Cape) or Cape Breton. ;)

Is that the accent that sounds a lot like Maine, but kind of harder? A lot of dems and deres?

L-girl said...

Stewart's routine was hilarious, but I hardly did it any justice at all.

I am not big on stand-up comedy, but I love Jon Stewart's stand-up. I love his material and his style.

James said...

Is that the accent that sounds a lot like Maine, but kind of harder? A lot of dems and deres?

Yis. :)

Canrane said...

LOL! I saw this post and was wondering if Canada day came early this year or something ;)

Anyway, whether it takes a year or two or twenty...I've always felt that you can consider yourself Canadian (no matter what your passport may say) when you really feel that this is your home. Not your particular city, or neighbourhood. But when you feel that this entire *country* is home.

It's a funny feeling, really. To land in an airport of a city you've never been to, on the other side of the country, thousands of miles frm your home, friends and family...and still have it feel like a homecoming!

Woti-woti said...

Some tips when speaking 'conversational weather' with a Canadian:

1. Don't forget to add 'ferya' As in "Hottinuff ferya?" or "Coldinuff ferya?"

2. Be careful WHEN you say "friggin' snow, eh?" Not a good idea just before Christmas (Irving Berlin and Bing Crosby have a lot to answer for). Should be good until early April, unless it's to somebody tieing skis to a car roof rack.

Woti-woti said...

I forgot a key one: When responding to the usual comment about the current unseasonal mild spell, nod wisely and intone:

"Yeah, buttcha know were gonna pay later, eh."

This response is better than a maple leaf on your backpack.

L-girl said...

To land in an airport of a city you've never been to, on the other side of the country, thousands of miles frm your home, friends and family...and still have it feel like a homecoming!

Wow, that's cool.

I guess our experience wasn't quite as dramatic, as we had been to Canada many times and are only hundreds of miles away from our former home... but still. Packing up everything we own, driving through New York State, knowing it was a one-way trip, crossing the border - it was so emotional. And it was a homecoming.

L-girl said...

"Yeah, buttcha know were gonna pay later, eh."

This response is better than a maple leaf on your backpack.


Ha!! I must remember this. Thanks, Woti.

sister.susie said...

How long did you live here before you were a citizen, if you don't mind me asking?

I don't mind at all. I lived in Canada for 21 years before I became a citizen. (I married a Canadian and moved here in 1983.)

L-girl said...

(I married a Canadian and moved here in 1983.)

From the US? Lucky you. You missed all the fun stuff. Reagan et al.

M@ said...

I remember reading a page a few years back by an American living in Canada, with info on the differences between the US and Canadian culture. One of the things it included was "Every conversation with a Canadian includes a brief exchange about the weather."

It's so true. Until that point I had never noticed it. Now I hear it all the time. I also try to keep from doing it myself, but geez, it's in my genes or something.

I think I'd estimate the typical pronunciation of Ottawa and Toronto as Odd-ah-wah and T'ronno. The second T is simply not pronounced by most Canadians (or at least southern Ontarians), and it's the first thing that tells me someone's from out of the area.

FormerOwl said...

I swear this is true -- one time I was going through Customs at the Toronto airport, and the Customs agent asked me where I was from. I enunciated carefully, To-ron-toe -- and he said a puzzled, "What?"

I answered "Trono" and he asked no more questions.

Some years ago, there was a story that a Torontonian was lacking proper ID at the airport, but got through successfully when the agent asked what the Pizza Pizza telephone number was. The commercial for that is heard all over. The quick reply, 967-11-11 got the person in.

That proves you are a real Torontonian.

That wouldn't work now, of course.

L-girl said...

I wonder what that question would be in New York...?

L-girl said...

I think I'd estimate the typical pronunciation of Ottawa and Toronto as Odd-ah-wah and T'ronno.

It's the vowel sounds in Odd-ah-wah I can't quite get.

One day. :)

I enunciated carefully, To-ron-toe -- and he said a puzzled, "What?"

I answered "Trono" and he asked no more questions.


This is too funny!

Nigel Patel said...

When you say "Wednesday" are there two syllables or three?
When there's three, go and get your touque.

L-girl said...

When you say "Wednesday" are there two syllables or three?
When there's three, go and get your touque.


!!!

Really?? Three syllables? I'll have to listen for that.

Nigel Patel said...

When-sday VS Wed-ns-day

L-girl said...

This might be more important that Awd-aw-waaw.

impudent strumpet said...

English is my mother's second language, and while she has almost entirely assimilated linguistically (the only person who has been able to identify what remains of her accent was a linguistics prof from the same cultural background) she still speaks with ESL precision. I managed to inherit that precision, so I say Tor-on-to. Every letter is neatly and dutifully pronounced. This isn't through any particular effort, it's just how I talk. I've been called pretentious because of it. I can say T'rona, but it requires conscious effort, like faking an accent.

Sometimes my pronunciation of Toronto causes people to ask where I'm from. I say "Tor-on-to." Then they ask where I'm from originally. I name the unglamorous 905 community where I was born and raised (and where people definitely say T'rona). The next question is "But what's your heritage?" If I'm feeling merciful, I tell them my mother's foreign birthplace. If not, I cite my father's WASP, fifth-generation Canadian background (which is reflected in my name and appearance.) It's amazing how much it can flummox people that I pronounce every letter even though I have no good reason to do so.

Some years ago, there was a story that a Torontonian was lacking proper ID at the airport, but got through successfully when the agent asked what the Pizza Pizza telephone number was. The commercial for that is heard all over. The quick reply, 967-11-11 got the person in.

That proves you are a real Torontonian.


I would have flunked that test. I know the number where I grew up, but I can never remember the Toronto number. (I don't listen to commercial radio specifically because I hate radio commercials, so I've managed to avoid becoming indoctrinated.)

L-girl said...

I can say T'rona, but it requires conscious effort, like faking an accent.

Same here. I'm pretty sure it always will, too. I don't say New Yawk. I say New York.

I'll also never know the pizza numbers. I don't listen to the radio and don't get pizza delivered.

But even though I don't get coffee from Tim Horton's - and don't put cream or sugar in my coffee - I still know what a double-double is. From that there is no escape.

Expat Traveler said...

It's so funny about this question. Because I live in the northwest and have been here over 2 years, (mind you not 1 day with PR yet), I don't think I will ever get those crazy accents.

Sure some people here have a few words they say differently... Pasta (how do you pronounce it? I say pawsta! And aboot, and eh? but really not too many more words I can think of right away...

How long have you been a PR? I'm counting my time as half, so well at least I'll be waiting about 2 years or less for eligibility for being a landed immigrant.

L-girl said...

I find the Canadian pronounciation of pasta very odd. I say "pah-sta", rhymes with "rasta" (as in -farian). Same sound as the pos in positive.

People here say pass-ta, sounds like "past" or "passed".

We got our PR status in May 2005, moved here August 30, 2005.

I'm counting my time as half, so well at least I'll be waiting about 2 years or less for eligibility for being a landed immigrant.

Not sure what you mean?

SteveA said...

Hi there, having just seen Stuart Maclean's Vinyl Cafe Christmas concert at U of T's Convocation Hall, I would guess that if you were to see it next year and "got" most of the puns/inside jokes/snide references etc. then you are Canadian.

You can listen to an edited broadcast this coming Saturday on CBC radio 2 (FM 94.1) at 10 am or CBC radio 1 (FM 99.1) at noon (I think) to get a sample.

Happy Holidays!
Steve A

James said...

These days I think one of the major contribution to Canadian weather conversation is the fact that it's all messed up! I went cycling on Sunday -- in December! And it was pleasant! Cycling in December should be miserable.

'Twas the week before Christmas
And all through the city
There'd been only one snowfall
And that itty-bitty


I was up at the family farm in late November and there was no snow in Mulmur Township. That in itself should be proof of global warming.

I find the Canadian pronounciation of pasta very odd. I say "pah-sta", rhymes with "rasta" (as in -farian). Same sound as the pos in positive.

I say "pasta", rhymes with "rasta", but then I don't say "rasta" with the "positive" sound, but with the "past" sound. :)

I'll also never know the pizza numbers. I don't listen to the radio and don't get pizza delivered.

Pizzaville had one of the more memorable mnemonics for their number: "[Thick cockneyish accent] Remember, it's not 'seven-free sex-free sex-free sex', it's 'seven-free six-free six-free six'!"

L-girl said...

I would guess that if you were to see it next year and "got" most of the puns/inside jokes/snide references etc. then you are Canadian.

Well, when I watched Rick Mercer and got it all, I was pretty pleased with myself. But as we all know, I don't watch Rick Mercer anymore. :)

I'm sticking with my Awd-aw-waah theory. When I pronounce that city's name and the national sport like a Canadian, that's when...

L-girl said...

I say "pasta", rhymes with "rasta", but then I don't say "rasta" with the "positive" sound, but with the "past" sound. :)

Heh. I should have known. :)

Canrane said...

Wow, that's cool.
I guess our experience wasn't quite as dramatic, as we had been to Canada many times and are only hundreds of miles away from our former home.


Whoops! Didn't mean to make it sound so exciting. I didn't meant that's how it felt the first time we set foot here. I meant after you'd been living in Canada for a few years, you go overseas, then land on Canadian soil again. Do you feel like you're finally home? Even if the Canadian soil happens to be a place you've never been before?