This is How Canada Talks

ottawa-rideau

Spread across a vast landmass, Canada’s roughly 30 million anglophones speak something called Canadian English. The stereotype often goes that Canadian English is a lot like American English in terms of both vocabulary and pronunciation, with significant influence from the British Isles, resulting in words like zed and spellings like colour and centre. A subtle Canadian accent that affects the vowels in words like about and write, and a collection of characteristic Canadian vocabulary like chesterfield, toque, poutine and bunnyhug, add to its uniqueness.

Wait, bunnyhug? Yes, bunnyhug is a very Canadian word (for a hooded sweatshirt), but you’ve probably never heard of it if you live outside of Saskatchewan. It turns out that there is a surprising amount of diversity within Canada when it comes to how we talk and the words we use. Of course, everyone knows about the characteristic English of Newfoundland, and regions like Cape Breton, Lunenberg and the Ottawa Valley also have unique ways of speaking. But even in other places that have no obvious reason to talk differently, Canadians have developed strong regionalisms.

“Convenience

Charles Boberg, an Associate Professor of Linguistics at McGill University, suggests that in addition to the influence of French as well as historical settlement patterns, much of our country’s language regionalism is due to “simple isolation.” While we can now easily communicate and interact with Canadians from all corners of the country, that was obviously not always the case. “[With] a relatively small population spread out over 5000 km … local cultures, which include unique vocabulary, have a chance to develop in each region, even over the relatively short time span of one or two centuries, without diffusing to other regions.” This isolation has given rise to some fascinating linguistic trends.

The Survey

To understand the different ways that Canadians speak, we conducted an online survey of English-speaking Canadians, asking 35 questions about everything from what you call a carbonated, sugary beverage (pop vs soda vs soft drink) to the preferred term for an evening meal (the great supper vs dinner debate). We then mapped the results, revealing some stark and surprising linguistic patterns across the country. In the maps that follow, each colour represents a term or pronunciation being most dominant in that region, and the intensity of the colour corresponds to its level of dominance there. If a region has a white or very light colour, then there is no particularly dominant term in that place.

We collected over 9500 responses from across the country, including from every province and territory, as well as a significant number from interesting linguistic subregions like Cape Breton, Labrador and the Avalon Peninsula in Newfoundland. We also collected a significant number of responses from some of Canada’s most populous provinces, allowing us to study the differences between densely populated urban areas (like the Greater Toronto Area and southwestern BC) and more sparsely populated, rural areas (like Northern Ontario and the BC Interior). The maps show only Canadians who both grew up and currently reside in the same province or territory, which helps to isolate regional influences in language.

Canadianisms

Canada is known for some of its unique vocabulary, like chesterfield, toque, Kraft Dinner and even garburator. But how prevalent are these terms in reality, and what regions of the country embrace them most fully? Pop vs. Soft Drink


Toque vs. Hat


Pencil Crayons vs. Coloured Pencils vs. Leads


Garburator vs. Garbage Disposal


Kraft Dinner vs. Macaroni and Cheese


“Pylons


Popularity of Chesterfield

Strong regionalisms

It can be easy to forget how diverse Canada is in terms of culture, politics, and of course, language. In these survey questions, we learned that there are striking regional differences in the words we use to describe some of the simplest ideas. “Supper


Runners vs. Running Shoes vs. Sneakers


“Cabin


Hoodie vs. Bunnyhug


“Cranky


Kickball vs. Soccer Baseball


Poster Board vs. Bristol Board

How we pronounce

The Canadian accent is sometimes stereotypically boiled down to a single word: “aboot”. But there is of course so much more to it than that, and an incredible amount of regional diversity. We examined a few such terms in our survey, including the pronunciation of words like caramel, decal and even the city of Toronto. CARE-A-MEL vs. CAR-MEL


Deckle vs. Dee-cal


Toronto - Final

Some surprising differences

Moving past some of the most obvious differences in the way Canadians speak, we learned that there continue to be some fascinating but subtle regional trend that govern the way we call everything from our monthly utility bill to our dinner table tools. Cutlery vs. Utensils vs. Silverware


Grades vs. Marks


Electric Pill vs. Hydro Bill


Rain Gutters vs. Eavestroughs


“Rubber

Methodology and Discussion

We are grateful for Professor Charles Boberg’s help and guidance in reviewing our survey and providing insight and historical context into the patterns that we observed. Our study is of course not the first to examine the different ways that Canadians speak. But it is to our knowledge the largest recent national-level survey of Canadian English, covering Canada’s vast geographical scope and diversity, reaching a significant number of respondents from every province and territory, as well as important linguistic subregions in the country.

Our online survey was conducted primarily via social media over a month in June 2017, gathering over 9500 responses. In our mapping, we restricted only to respondents who both grew up and currently live in the same province. For provinces with subdivided regions like Ontario or Nova Scotia, we mapped according to the region where the respondent grew up. We had at least 25 respondents in every province and subregion, but had many hundreds of responses in almost all areas except the Territories.

While our survey method provided an efficient means of getting many responses, our survey respondents are not representative of all Canadians in the standard statistical sense. Respondents to our survey provided their age and education level, and in aggregate they tended to skew younger and more educated than the overall population. As a result, some questions may display certain kinds of biases; for instance, the term chesterfield is known to be more common among older Canadians, so our data likely underestimates the prevalence of this term as compared to couch or sofa.

Nevertheless, as our analysis primarily focuses on geographic distributions, we are confident that the observed trends are real and meaningful. Indeed, our survey results for some well-studied variables in the linguistics community, like the name of a lakeside summer home (cabin/cottage/camp), the name of the evening meal, and others, closely match previous results. Consequently, Boberg notes that this “… suggest[s] that they represent real patterns and not chance findings influenced by [our] particular method.”

Some questions for our survey were adapted from previously studied language variables in past studies and surveys – including Boberg’s influential North American Regional Vocabulary Survey – while others were drawn from our own research and observations. The most interesting results were presented in this article.

We began with a set of mapping divisions used in the North American Regional Vocabulary Survey; that is, each province is treated as a single linguistic unit, while also subdividing British Columbia into two regions — the southwest urban Vancouver/Victoria region, and the rest — and Ontario into four regions — southwestern Ontario, the Greater Toronto Area, eastern Ontario, and northern Ontario. We then added the three territories, as we had sufficient data for each, as well as several interesting linguistic regions that to our knowledge had not been fully studied in a pan-Canadian survey such as this: Cape Breton in Nova Scotia, Labrador, and the Avalon Peninsula in Newfoundland.

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  • Tommy James

    How come the phrase, “It doesn’t take a rocket appliance” isn’t included here?

    • cinematiks

      That’s because this isn’t the worst case ontario

    • NaviNaviNavi

      Who are you supposed to be? Indianapolis Jones?

    • Willie Beamen keep em screamin

      Atodaso

  • Jay

    This was very interesting. I’m glad I participated

  • Trevor Cory

    …except that “about” isn’t generally pronounced “aboot.” The only people who render it that way are foreigners who can’t properly render the subtle difference. It is pronounced more like a-bout (as in a “bout of something”) rather than the American a-bow-t (as in “bow down”).

    And peewee is a hockey division of pre-teens, not little kids. I don’t think you mean to refer to them in reference to the pylons.

    And where is the phrase “to get two birds stoned at once”?

    • The 10 and 3

      Hi! Regarding “aboot,” that’s why we said it’s a stereotype of the Canadian accent. Of course it’s not how people actual pronounce about. Regarding peewee, we’re not sure what you mean. Most hockey players, from mites to peewees, juniors and pros tend to use pylons on the ice, right?

      • BCer originally from the US here, and I’m here to tell you, it definitely sounds like ‘aboot’ to me, especially out of the mouths of people from Ontario.

        • Tim Locke

          It’s because you didn’t grow up hearing it and your ear isn’t attuned to the difference.

        • Carol Merten

          Seriously? Interesting. How about that!

          • My partner is from Alberta, so when he says it, it’s a little closer to “abowt” but there are slight shades of “aboot” there for sure.

      • Teresa Janelle

        They’re definitely pylons when used in sports! It’s a bit fuzzier on the road…pylons if they’re cone-shaped, otherwise “bollards” (for the ones screwed into the asphalt and shaped like sticks), or “traffic cones/markers” (ironically not required to be cone-shaped)

        • Sk0ly

          And what they are actually called which is delineators.

    • Sk0ly

      Have you ever noticed the one commonality among all the american accents is the way they say “and”? It sounds like “eeand” lol. Seriously, listen for it, they all do it.

      • kentvincent

        ha. I heard a Chinese American in Dallas really squeeze that “eeand” as you call it. Interesting that she picked up on that down there rather than y’all or “have a hort” (heart). Also to our US ears, Canadians tend to say “dolors” for dollars (as though they were painful), and they tend to hear us say “dal-ears.” Both are exaggerations of slight differences that somehow jar the senses.

        • Sk0ly

          Totally. I find it odd that this is probably the one commonality between all of the large variety of the american accents. Whereas y’all or have a hort are largely relegated to the south.

        • coply davviz

          tho theyre not exaggerations because theyre real documented differences ie: the cot-caught merger. and the difference is not limited to canadians. the west coast, parts of new england and pittsburg area accents also say ‘dollars’ with an ‘awe’ sound instead of an ‘ah’ sound

      • Angèle Liane Morgan

        Yes! Someone else hears it. I keep asking people why Americans have decided “and” is a two-syllable word. Not so much from people who have been taught diction (like actors or newscasters) but the prevalence of reality TV really caused me to notice it. “I went to the store EY-AND I bought some cheese EY-AND I made a sandwich EY-AND it was delicious.”
        …like nails on a chalkboard…

      • coply davviz

        its called prenasal /æ/ tensing, and americans do do it much stronger than canadians, especially the people around the great lakes. whats more fascinating is that there are canadians who dont do it at all, making the difference very noticeable. but there are a few speakers here who dont do it either, mostly confined to a small portion of latin americans.

    • Jordan DeLine

      “And where is the phrase “to get two birds stoned at once”?”

      *looks back at poster’s name*

      LOL

    • zach

      the two examples you cited (“bout” vs. “bow-t” (as in bow down)) are the exact same sound to americans. to my american ears the canadian pronunciation is closer to a slightly clipped “a-boat”

      • BillyT92679

        Yep, as an American, the biggest Canadian thing is to us a hyper-pronunciation of things (and you guys would say we underpronounce).

        Against is pronounced uhGHENST in the US but as uhGAINST in Canada, same with Again (uhGHEN vs uhGAIN). PRAHCESS vs PROCESS, PRAHGRESS vs PROGRESS.

        You guys pronounce words much more phonetically, which is more correct but kind of striking to our ears.

        I guess it’s because you guys are much more English and British Isles and Americans are more of a hodge-podge of things, outside of like New England or Anglo-Irish Appalachia or the refined MidAtlantic FDR/William F. Buckley/George Plimpton accent.

        The Francophone influence is there too of course, but your white population is more uniform outside of say Ukrainians in Winnipeg or other ethnic populations in large cities (though even in places like Toronto, it’s still very English to go along with Scottish) Plus you are a commonwealth nation, so that’s got to have its influence as well that we simply do not have. We took Noah Webster to heart, perhaps way too much so.

        I live in Western NY and it is amazing to hear the dialect and pronunciation differences that occur immediately as soon as I cross the border.

        We have a greater admixture of rhotic and non-rhotic accents to go along with dialetic differences in English. Of course we are not officially bi-lingual like you guys, but our Hispanophone population is larger than the entire population of Canada.

        • kentvincent

          As an American turning my ear fondly to the land north of the border whenever I can, I get a kick out of phonetic subtleties such as those involving the letter “o”. We both have a “long” o as in the word note (though often rounder in Canada and Minnesota), but Canadians have three “short” o’s instead of two like we have here. Americans have the sound in “lock” and “boss”; Canadians have those two, but also a third short o for the words “concert”, “Congress”, and “hockey”. It is somewhere in between the other two and takes practice for an American to vocalize. Also even when accents and patois are dropped and “out” and “about” gets tamped down while living south of the border, a Canadian is still a dead give away when they say rezour’ses instead of ‘resources” (soft s). Oh, yeah, and how many of you up there have gotten a “needle” from the doctor lately instead of a shot, inoculation, or vaccination? I heard that in the Maritimes, but it may be more widespread.

          • Elaine Becker

            With regard to pronouncing the letter S as Z, what drives me nuts is how Canadians call him Doctor Zeuss instead of Seuss.

        • smithington

          that’s exactly it. When I went to Korea to teach English people would often say to me “Often? what’s that? I don’t know the word”. I would write down “often” and they would go “Oh….offen”. Until that point they’d only had teachers from the US.

        • Carol Merten

          That’s interesting to hear . Of course it doesn’t sound like that to us so that is why we are often saying “no we pronounce it about, the same as everyone else!”

        • Grace Frank

          Interesting. As a Canadian, I’ve never heard “white population” used to distinguish the differences among its speakers. Referring to one’s pre-immigration geographic origin, yes, but only if there are vestigial traces among the generations who follow. Indigenous Canadians may speak English with an accent, or not. One’s skin pigmentation is as relavent in determining one’s accent as one’s height. Canadians of, say, south-Asian origin, have the same accent as those from Africa or Europe.

          • BillyT92679

            You’re reading way too much into that.

        • Dominion_Lad

          I live just a couple of km (miles), right across the border from you, and every time I go “over the river”, I cannot get over the “twang” in the Upstate NY accent. The way you pronounce “dollar” sounds like “daller” to my ears. Your grocery chain “Tops” sounds like “Taps”.

      • Teresa Janelle

        “bout” and “bow-t” sound identical to this Prairie Canadian too!

    • Eleanor Abernathy

      Totally agree, although I’m from SK and with a little distance from my home province, whenever I hear a Saskatchewanian say “about” it is almost always pronounced “aboat”. But you’re right — it’s really never “aboot”.

      • Rick Mccready

        I don’t hear anyone saying “aboot”. I lived in Ontario 5 years and the rest of my life in Nova Scotia and most people in both places say “aboat”. I do think more people are starting to say “abowt” as we become more Americanized. As for calling pop “soda”, I never used to hear that but now a lot of people are saying “soda”. Again, it is a sign of creeping Americanization.

        • Bonzai

          My husband (a Brit) says the *only* Canadian he’s ever met who actually says it like “aboot” is my sister. He’s been here 20 years, so he’s heard lots of Canadians say it.

    • About is the one word I can called out for in the USA. Roof is close but otherwise it’s not used as often.

  • Fascinating online survey, never heard of a Bunnyhug before. Bunnyhug makes sense when you think about it.

    • Emelio Estevez

      No it doesn’t. Do not give Sask the satisfaction.

      • WarOnMugs

        Saskifaction?

        • JeromeGiraffe

          We walk among you……

    • louel53

      As someone from Saskatchewan, it is my theory, that if the whole world called them bunnyhugs (I’ll even give you the kangaroo jacket as acceptable, although we NEVER called them any such thing) then no one would ever be afraid of anyone wearing one with the hood up. How could you be afraid or suspicious of anyone wearing a “bunnyhug”? It would save lives in the USA!!

  • JillyJoad

    The correct spelling for the kind of hat you are referring to is, “Tuque.” “Toque” is a kind of hat most people have never worn – unless they are a chef or something.

    • Marlyn Beebe

      I’ve always seen it spelled “touque”.

      • JillyJoad

        This is the most common (but incorrect) spelling I agree. I assume it is people combining the two spellings.

        • Tim Locke

          It looks French.

    • The 10 and 3

      Canadian Oxford Dictionary suggests “toque” is the primary spelling, for what it’s worth. Though in this map, the word choice is more important than the exact spelling.

      • vivyanne c

        But the spelling is important for the word choice. Im from QC and we all say tuque , i would never say toque because it sounds different and means something completely different, so yea the spelling is important
        also i have never heard anyone in qc call it soccer baseball. most people, even when speaking french, call it kickball
        but regardless, its an interesting survey

      • JillyJoad

        “The word choice is more important than the exact spelling” LOL Ummmm the spelling IS the word… Spell it differently and it is a different word.

        The Oxford says that Toque is the spelling for “A woman’s small hat having a narrow, closely turned up brim.”

        Their definition of Tuque is “A close-fitting knitted stocking cap.” This is also the same for M Webster and Gage Canadian.

        • Tim Locke

          > the spelling IS the word

          This is English we’re talking about here. There are exceptions to every spelling rule.

        • Mark Richards

          Spoken language is more primal than spelling. There are lots of words with multiple accepted spellings (color, colour, for example) that nobody would argue are different words. Some languages don’t even have written forms! So toque/tuque/touque are all different variations on spelling the same word and some people will disagree about which ones are acceptable.

        • Roto13

          Linguistic prescriptivists are the worst kind of pedants.

        • Gregory Bryce

          I think you are failing to distinguish between the Oxford English Dictionary (published in the U.K.) and the Canadian Oxford Dictionary, published in Canada.

          Here is something I wrote about toque in 2014. It rhymes with kook.

          “[Toque is] virtually unknown to Americans, who may refer to a toque as a beanie, or, in the South, as a toboggan hat or just a toboggan. Really.

          “Toque, less commonly spelled tuque in Canadian English, is the 19th-century Canadian French word tuque that meant a knitted, stocking-shaped hat that hung down the back.

          “French-speaking colonists appear to have added that meaning to a dialect word for a type of peak or hill.

          “One early writer, though, figured it was the other way around, contending the Quebec
          town of La Tuque, which sits at the base of such a hill, was named for the hat!

          “So where did we English-speakers get the O-spelling?

          “In fact, English adopted toque more than 500 years ago from French spoken in France.
          It referred then to a small, round, brimless hat, often velvet.

          “Some dictionaries list a third meaning for toque, a tall white hat worn by chefs. In these last two senses, which I suspect very few of us know, it’s pronounced toke in English and tock in
          French.

          “Toque, the knitted hat with a pom-pom, is one of almost 2,000 Canadianisms in the Canadian
          Oxford Dictionary. Those are words or phrases used exclusively or primarily by speakers of Canadian English.

          “Many are ordinary English words given a particular meaning in this country, while others are invented.”

        • The 10 and 3

          For more context on the history of the spelling of the word toque, check out the dictionary of Canadianisms: http://www.dchp.ca/dchp2/Entries/view/toque. “Tuque” was indeed an early spelling of the term, but more recently the “o” has come to replace the “u” in common usage.

    • Carol Merten

      toque
      tōk/
      noun
      a close-fitting knitted hat, often with a tassel or pom-pom on the crown.
      Toque
      From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
      For the modern headwear known as a “tuque”, see Knit cap. For other uses, see Toque (disambiguation).
      King Philip II of Spain, wearing the Spanish Tocado, late 1500s. Painting by Sofonisba Anguissola.

      A toque (/ˈtoʊk/[1] or /ˈtɒk/) is a type of hat with a narrow brim or no brim at all.[2]

      Toques were popular from the 13th to the 16th century in Europe, especially France. The mode was revived in the 1930s.Now it is primarily known as the traditional headgear for professional cooks, except in Canada where the term is primarily used for knit caps.[2]

    • Eleanor Abernathy

      I’ve always seen it spelled “toque” but pronounced “tooque” for the wooly hat, “toke” for the chef’s hat.

    • Teresa Janelle

      I’ve always spelled it differently than EITHER of those…I would spell it “touque”!! 😀 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toque

      “Toques were popular from the 13th to the 16th century in Europe, especially France. The mode was revived in the 1930s.Now it is primarily known as the traditional headgear for professional cooks, except in Canada where the term is primarily used for knit caps.[2]…..
      In Canada, tuque /ˈtuːk/ is the common name for a knitted winter hat, or watch cap (sometimes called a beanie in other parts of the world); the spelling “touque”, although not recognized by the Canadian Oxford Dictionary, is also sometimes seen in written English.[6] The Canadian-English term was assimilated from Canadian-French tuque. Toque first appeared in writing around 1870.[7][8][9]”

      So apparently Toque and Tuque BOTH refer to a chef’s hat, but in Canada refer to a knit hat worn in winter.

  • AlexisRT

    Just FYI, Americans are sharply divided on the pop vs. soda question, such that there’s a whole website devoted to it! (in the South, it’s all Coke.)

    • BillyT92679

      The dividing line is in upstate NY, between Syracuse and Rochester… though more Rochesterians now say soda, and even Buffalonians are saying it more and more. Pre 1980 Syracuse said pop.

      • Dominion_Lad

        Tops Markets (a Buffalo-based Western NY grocery chain) uses “pop” on their aisle signs.

    • Tim Pendergast

      Hereabouts is Central New England you quite often hear it called “tonic.”

      • j.snoogans

        Tim, that is SUPER Mainer!!

        • Tim Pendergast

          Big in the Merrimack Valley NH/MA as well. For a long time DeMoulas/Market Basket, the dominant supermarket in the area, labelled the soda aisle as tonic. 😉

  • David Hughes

    There are some for PEI that are not right. And some PEI has no colour at all not sure what that means, no reply on the survey? I’ve never heard of kickball, we say traffic cone, light bill for power, coloured pencil I’ve never heard anyone say pencil crayon.

    • The 10 and 3

      We surveyed many of your fellow Islanders to get these results. Note that these are aggregate results, there is not 100% agreement. Folks in PEI don’t say kickball, in fact, they say soccer baseball; about 70% say pencil crayon; another 70% say pylon as opposed to traffic cone.

      If there is no colour or a light colour, that means that there was no dominant term for that question.

      There could be numerous factors why your own experience is different than these results. It could be generational, for instance. Note also that if 70% say pencil crayon, that’s still a whole lot of people who say coloured pencil.

    • BillyT92679

      You’ve never heard of kickball?

      • I have never heard of kickball and I played soccer for 20 years in Vancouver.

      • bosrell

        no never

      • Dominion_Lad

        How long has the game been played? I never heard of it (under either name) before this article.

    • Jessica Fediw

      We use pencil crayon in Ontario. And Hydro bill. It’s funny how it’s so different from province to province, with provinces never having heard other provinces terms for different things. But someone said it above, small population spread out over a huge landscape. I’m really enjoying the comment section! I love hearing how Canadians say thing in different regions :)

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  • Matt Gillard

    Here’s one for you. I’m from Cape Breton and have been all across Canada and the difference that gets me all the time is our booze. Ask for a mickey (shooter), point (pint or maybe flask), quart (litre), 40 ounces, 60 ounces, or Texas mickey and you’ll get different terms everywhere. Also a two four for a 24 pack of beer vs a flat.

    • NaviNaviNavi

      And Newfoundlanders call a 12 pack a case. So many times I thought someone wanted to get pretty drunk when they said to go to the store and pick up a half case (when they actually only meant 6 beers – a half case in Newfoundland)

      • Dale Ann Molloy

        I am Newfie born and breed …heres how most of us on the south coast refer generally to liquor ….6pk (1/2 case).8pk, 12pk (case),18pk(case&1/2), 24pk(2-4)……..mickey, pup.flask,26er,40,60…then its texas mickey……

    • Bonnie Howells

      I’m from the lower Ottawa Valley – a mickey is a small flat bottle of booze, a big bottle is a 40 pounder, a Texas mickey is the gigantic bottle. 24 beers is of course a two-four, and back when you could buy 12 beers that was called a suitcase. I don’t think we have a name for 6 beers – which tells you a lot about our drinking habits.

      • marshlc

        Six beers were a half sack in Alberta.

      • Sk0ly

        Pretty close in bc. We have 6packs, 8 packs, cases (12), 15 pack, flat or 24 (there is also a cube) (interchangeable).

        For booze it’s shot for a one ounce, Mickey for a small bottle, 26’s, 40’s, 60’s, and a Texas Mickey.

      • Dominion_Lad

        I grew up calling 12 beers a “half case”. A “suitcase” was what people in Buffalo, NY (across/over the river) called 12 beers, which were usually cans.

  • rich1299

    It was an interesting questionaire that got me thinking about the words I use and how I pronounce them. I personally found my word use varied a lot depending on the specific situation and who I was talking to.

  • Murray Naish

    Speaking as an interested foreigner, marks and grades are different things, at least in the UK. Is this not the case elsewhere? One might receive, for example, 90 marks out of 100 on an exam paper. But any mark from 85-100 will be graded an ‘A’. That’s how school exams work over here.

    • Bryan Smith

      Typically we Americans don’t say “marks” at all. Your “test score” of 90 would get you a “grade” of A. Interestingly though, the school year is divided up into “marking periods”. (At least that’s the way it is here in southern New Jersey.)

      • KD

        n Ontario, most of our schools are semestered, so students talk about first and second semester, but not the two marking periods in each semester. Only teachers tend to use that term.

        • Dominion_Lad

          I’m 62 and in my “old Ontario”, schools were divided into terms, including my years in university.

      • Margie Finnity

        I’m from Western NY and always said pop, marks and supper. My grandkids always say grades and soda. When I say supper, they say “what’s supper?” because they know it as dinner.

    • Taylor MacGillivray

      From my experience, when people say marks, they are almost referring to the teacher ‘marking’ on the page (like writing on it). So if a paper was out of 100 points we would convert that to a percent, the same applies to anything judged on a numerical value. The letter grade system is pretty well the same as yours, however, in public schools in my area, elementary and middle school are graded on a letter system which then gets changed to percentages in high school, then back to letters for university. This could potentially explain why we use a blanket term for all forms of grades or marks. Hope that cleared something up!

    • KD

      In Ontario, schools tend to grade with letters for the younger grades. They use percentages instead of letter grades for older grades (starting in grade 7 if I remember correctly).

      My university used percentages instead of letter grades.

      Maybe this is why we usually said marks instead of grades.

  • doug earl

    We grew up in southern Ontario calling hoodies “kangaroo jackets”, I guess because of the pouch pockets at the front.

    • jayme

      I’m from southern ontario and I’ve never heard this, but I wish we had!

      • Bob

        You must be too young! That’s a good thing, I can tell you!!

        • Bonnie Howells

          I’d forgotten about that term until you mentioned it – you’re right, we called it a kangaroo jacket too! (lower Ottawa Valley)

    • Bob

      I remember that term as well. Is it our age , I’m 60 ? And grew up in Mississauga in the 1960s

      • doug earl

        Yeah maybe! I’m 60 also. Maybe that’s just how they were marketed back then?

      • Carol Merten

        63 and yes Kangaroo jacket then.

        • Dominion_Lad

          62 and I knew it as a kangaroo top. It has to be the pullover type, with the hand-warming pouch.

    • Gail

      I’m a baby boomer and grew up in the Vancouver area. It was always a kangaroo jacket back then. Living beside a military base makes me interested in how terminology gets moved around the country. Those kids moved every few years and took the terminology with them. The other noticeable vocabulary leaking into local vernacular is the expression “no worries.” I catch myself saying it now too. All those Aussies working at the ski hills have brought their language with them. Just neat how the language spreads around the country.

      • Sk0ly

        Vancouver here too. No worries has always been around. I’ve never called it or heard anyone call a hoodie a kangaroo jacket, is a hoodie.

  • Toby_W

    Is there a link for the data?

  • If you say “soccer football,” you’re the feds.

  • Kevin Knox

    I have a theory that one of the few national colloquialisms is “buddy”. Everyone (with perhaps the exception of Quebec) refers to that guy at the party as “buddy”. It can be positive (“…and then buddy shows up with another flat of beer!”), negative (“Someone needs to tell buddy over there to settle down”), or purposely enigmatic (“We gotta go see buddy – back in 20”).

    • Norman Young

      I live in Oromocto, NB (about 20 mins out of Fredericton) and it is rare to hear buddy used that way very often. I am originally from Miramichi, NB were the term lad is commonly used that way. Another turn of phrase that I think is specific to the Miramichi area is “young lads” which is a generic term for kids and sometimes teenagers regardless of sex.

      • ryan pickard

        My father’s also from New Brunswick (near the village of Bath, on the Maine border), and he often referred to children as “gaffers”, as in “when I was a wee little gaffer” and I have never heard anyone besides him and his family use that word.

        • Norman Young

          That’s a new one on me, but sometimes it’s a generational thing.

        • Jessica Fediw

          S.Ontario here and my family used gaffer and ankle biter for small children. Could be an age thing. I will occasionally call little ones ankle biters, especially when they are acting up.

      • stephanieprice

        Parents grew up along the Miramichi River so I heard the term lad many times! Also “over home” and “over north” used to refer to where they were from.

      • Dominion_Lad

        “Lad” is common in the Ottawa Valley as well, especially amongst the older generation.

    • marshlc

      Albertan here, and never heard “buddy” used that way until a whole bunch of easterners moved here, in the late seventies. We would say “this guy”.

      • Dominion_Lad

        Agreed as to “this guy”. I never heard “buddy” until I heard it from Maritimes work colleagues.

    • Sk0ly

      Vancouver here. We totally do that ALL THE TIME. Interior of BC moreso

      • Robert

        I’ve never heard anyone in Victoria/Vancouver refer to someone as “buddy”. I can’t speak for the interior but I suspect that’s where you’re hearing it (or amongst people from the interior).

        • Sk0ly

          What is your generation Robert? In the older generations I can see it but between say 16-35 or even 40, it is super common.

          Example:

          “So here I am minding my own business and buddy cuts me off”

          The context makes no sense but it is used a lot in that way.

          • Dominion_Lad

            I’ve always known the term as “guy”, rather than “buddy” (usually with “this” or “that” before the noun – this guy/that guy). The current universal usage by the term “dude” by the younger folk drives me crazy. I’m nobody’s “dude”. :))

    • Chadhulhu

      “Buddy” in the context of “some unknown individual” is a Newfoundland term. “Buddy cut me off in the intersection.” The first time I’d ever heard it was from a Newfoundlander.

    • Robert

      You never hear this in BC.

      • Kevin Knox

        I live in BC, & I hear it all the time – and I’d originally thought it was an Albertan thing.

  • billy boy, noted jackass

    “We were pre-gaming for Scott’s social, and buddy was up on the roof with a mickey and a 24, just fuckin givin’ ‘er. I’m standing down there getting a booter, and he yells out “fuckin rights” and starts hucking his empties at me. I was just, like: buddy. What’s next, fuckin bumpershining? I’m going to get some dainties.” – beautiful Manitoba English

    Some people in Vancouver pronounce “about” like Americans (excepting northern Minnesotans, who pronounce it right). People from London, Ontario use a weird dipthong that starts on an “eh” sound and ends in an “oo”.

    One Ph.D, please.

  • smithington

    By your own research it’s a bit misleading to call “bunny hug” a canadian word. Just because someone in Canada says it somewhere, doesn’t make it a “canadian” word. It’s a very specific regionalism much like the US has very specific regionalisms as well. We don’t refer to those terms as “american” words. We rightly identify them by the region they come from.

    it might have been nice if you did a survey on the usage of “dart” and if anyone actually uses that outside of “trying to sound canadian” in youtube videos.

    • The 10 and 3

      It is Canadian in the sense that it is only used in Canada. We understand your point, but by this logic there is virtually no “Canadian” word at all: as we found in the survey, no word that we typically think of as Canadian is really dominant in all places in Canada.

      We think most folks understand what we’re getting at here.

      • smithington

        Since your focus is on English words, pop is pretty much a canadian word. Getting English results from Quebec from the few there is pretty pointless. Same with pylons. But you’re also trying to make the point that a single area like newfoundland (which has a lot of unique words) not calling toque hat should disqualify it, when I’m saying that a single place calling something by a unique name doesn’t make a “canadian” word. No matter where you go, not everyone will use those terms. even where they are ubiquitous. You do need to set a threshold though, and I think a word that is used by at least 60-70% of the population can probably be considered a canadian word, even if there may be some small regional hold outs. I don’t think that a word used only in one place remotely qualifies though.

    • marshlc

      “dart” You mean that pointy thing people throw, at the bar? Or what you’re always worried little kids will do, into traffic? I’ve never thought of this as a particularly Canadian word.

      • explodet

        I’d assume he means using dart as a slang term for cigarette. Because otherwise, darts are just darts.

        • marshlc

          OK, yeah, now you mention it I have heard that. Never heard any actual living person say it, though.

          • Ward3

            I’ve heard a number of folks use that, including my son!

  • Alison McRae

    Born on Vancouver island. Moved to US when I was seven didn’t notice the accent I was accused of having till I was in my twenties.

    • Jessica Fediw

      Alison, I lived in Switzerland for 2 years and upon my arrival back in Canada, THAT was the only time I noticed the Canadian accent. Lol. No one in Switzerland (except Americans) noticed my Canadian accent. But I still don’t think I pronounce it “aboot”. Ask my husband about the way we pronounce bagel though(he’s British) he thinks I say it funny.

  • Dylan Bélanger

    The reason why QC and surroundings call it Hydro Bill is because Hydro Quebec has a monopoly over electricity providing in QC and provides to surrounding areas even northern USA, and its because its not a nuclear power plant or coal powered, we use hydroelectricity due to our abundance of waterways.

    • Sk0ly

      Likewise with BC Hydro

    • bosrell

      Plus Niagara Falls hydro has been around a lot longer from the Sir Adam Beck generating station. S. Ont. was always hydro and I still use that term although I’m now in Ottawa (and buy my power through Bullfrog so it’s still partly hydro as well as wind and solar).

  • Spud McKenzie

    BC boy, moved overseas at about 35. That’s when I discovered I had an accent (I strongly denied having a Canadian accent at a party, insisting we were just halfway between Brits and Yanks. A colleague challenged me to pronounce “about” and “the name of the thing you row on the water.” I had to admit I couldn’t hear a difference … even after the gales of laughter died out).

    I loved this article. Overwhelmingly accurate compared to most regional / accent comparisons I see. I had forgotten pencil crayons in the intervening decades, but yes, that’s what we called them. Beer came in cases and half-cases when I started drinking (late 1970s). Two-fours were an American thing, along with tall necks and skinny-walled beer cans (Canadian frat boys would see John Belushi crushing beer cans against his forehead and practically concuss themselves with an empty Old Style).

    Kudos to @doug_earl:disqus for reminding me of kangaroo jackets. Like pencil crayons, it’s been a long time … still not sure if my sister is my boys’ awnt or ant, but at least it’s the same word.

    For Edmonton TV weatherman Bill Matheson, winter storms were “dreaded Siberian highs.” Those same storms on Vermont Public Radio are “Alberta clippers.”

    One other word … a skiff, meaning a light snow (or a small boat). Not in New England, where it’s just a boat. I put it in a headline once … much to the hilarity of my co-workers.

  • Bj Rodgers

    corner stores in Sk are often referred to as ‘confectionaries’

    • Eric S. Smith

      There are definitely convenience stores in Ottawa that say “confectionary” on their signs, but I don’t know that I’ve ever heard someone actually call them that.

    • I suspect that’s starting to become archaic given the spread of 7/11 and Macs stores over the last 40 odd years.

  • Cheryl Semrau

    No matter where you live in Canada, we all speak Canadian!

  • Chris

    In my experience most people in Southern BC (Island & the interior) say “Hydro” when referring to the bill, or even to electricity in general. Probably because we’re all on B.C. Hydro?

  • Terry Zawalski

    In Edmontn I grew up calling hoodies Kangaroos. Ones with a zipper were kangaroo jackets.

    • Dominion_Lad

      I’m 62 and they were called kangaroo tops when I was a kid.

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  • William Derrick

    I’m from BC but one thing I have heard people from Ontario say is “ung-yun” when saying onion (un-yun to me).

  • Alison Reid

    Just curious. When you say “thank you” to a person, how do they respond? In my experience Canadians often say “You’re welcome” while Americans will say “Uh-huh.”

    • This drives my wife absolutely crazy when she shops in the U.S.

    • Tasha

      I’m a Newfoundlander and generally, most say “No sweat”. Depending on the situation, I’ll say “You’re welcome”, “No problem” or “No sweat”.

      • Sk0ly

        BC we generally say no problem

        • FrankeeD

          More so with the younger generation. I’m 62 and prefer “You’re welcome.” When a server says “no problem” after I’ve thanked them for a menu, I’m thinking, “Why would doing your job be a problem?” (^_^)

  • explodet

    As someone who used to work at The Beer Store, the only people who use the term “suitcase” are hardcore alcoholics.

  • Phu-My Nguyen Gep

    I write exams, do you take exams?

    But now in the digital age, no one writes anymore. But I will then “take” an exam?

  • Phu-My Nguyen Gep

    My father in-law called a six pack emergency beer, I thought it was an original saying for him!

  • louel53

    And we haven’t even gotten into Nanimo bars, dainties or squares, butter tarts, and vico!!

  • kerry

    I’m in BC and still say Chesterfield,but also Sofa and Couch.I say both Kraft Dinner and Mac and Cheese,rubberband,the gutters, my hydro bill,Crabby over Cranky,Knives and Forks over Cutlery,pop and elastic band.Also just The Store…

  • Tawny Tawny

    Grades vs Marks is curious. I’ve always used them to mean different things (I grew up in Toronto). Marks are what you get on a test, essay, or paper, Grades are what you get on the report card.

    • Ward3

      We used Marks for both of those. Grew up in northern Ontario.

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  • Cari G.

    Napkins and serviettes?

    • smithington

      No one under 100 says Serviettes, unless they’re french.

      • Cari G.

        You haven’t been to the U.S. lately?

      • DaveBOTN

        Not true, all my aunts say serviette.

      • FrankeeD

        I grew up in the 1960s in BC and my family used the term “serviettes.” Then we started to distinguish between cloth serviettes and paper napkins. However, I never use now it because no one uses cloth serviettes anymore.

      • Dominion_Lad

        Speak for yourself. This person in his early 60s learned as a kid that serviettes were paper, and napkins were linen and were used only for formal meals.

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  • Sean William Wallace Morison

    I say eavestrough, all my family does, but the rest are accurate and interesting

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  • Reading the article I have to disagree about pylon versus traffic cone. I’ve lived in Saskatchewan my entire life, and I call those things a traffic cone.

    Kickball? That’s one I’ve never heard of, but perhaps that’s because I was of the age to play it in the ’70s, and don’t have any kids.

    I probably use cutlery more than utensil, but use both. And I probably use the proper names for whatever it is I’m eating with as much or more.

    I use hydro bill occasionally, but probably use power bill more than electric bill.

    • Dominion_Lad

      I grew up in the Niagara peninsula in the late 50s/early 60s, and cutlery was for everyday use. Silverware was the fancy stuff that came out for special meals, along with the “good china”.

  • MarkoP

    I’m from Alberta I swear I remember Kickball being referred to as “Chinese Soccer”. I’m not sure where that comes from.

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  • Topaz

    As a native Canadian from Torono studying in England (yes the one in Europe), I am eternally confused by the use of “tea” to refer to the last meal of the day by (some) British. I personally prefer dinner, but that can mean lunch here. It also bugs me that the Brits refer to the States and Canada as the “Americas” but don’t include a whole slew of countries also part of the continent in this reference. The number of times I’ve explained to them it’s like calling an Englishman Scottish…

  • FrankeeD

    I grew up in the BC interior in the 1960s and used to go to summer camp in Washington state. We spent a lot of time doing the kids’ version of linguistic analysis. The one that really amused the American kids was “chesterfield” because there it was a type of cigarette. Mac and cheese was what Mom made and Kraft Dinner was always the bought stuff, which we rarely had. As a teacher I usually distinguished between marking, which was for individual assignments and grading, which was the final calculation of the letter grade.

  • ThunderingEarl

    okay, the rubbery flavoured candy… ju-jubes… how is it pronounced? is it jewjewbs or jewjewbees?

  • Karen Lawson

    I grew up in “Tronnah” and Saskatchewan and listened to my mother’s Ottawa Valley accent. I had to make the switch to runners, bunny hugs, and dinner when I started Grade 4 in SK. And learn what a Confectionery store was. And if u go to the USA and ask for a serviette more silverware or where the washroom is you will have to explain. I can always identify a Maritime resident by the way they say “car”. It’s a hard caaar sound. And if you say Saskatchewan with emphasis on the Sask you aren’t from here. It’s SaskATchewan. Ditto for the wan part. It’s more wen than wahn.

  • sbs138

    “Hey” vs “Eh” in Alberta.
    I moved to Alberta and thought this was the strangest thing. Still do.