Tuesday, August 3, 2010

How to spot a Canadian

Of course, there's the love for Hockey and then there's the beer, but the main way to determine a person's "Canadianess" is their usage of the word "eh." In general, "eh" usually means "do you agree?" For example, a Canadian would say "It's pretty nice today, eh?" But, like all iconic slang, the Canadian "eh" has many meanings.

For example, a Canadian might say "That's really far, eh?" In that case the Canadian isn't asking if a person agrees, they are using the word to emphasize what they just said. The common Canadian response to "That's really far, eh?" is usually "I know, eh?" Again, it's used more for emphasis in this case.

Canadians have managed to include the word "eh" into pretty much every sentence. It's quite common for a converstation like the one above to degenerate into a series of "ehs" that become increasingly meaningless but still important.

"That's really far, eh?"
"I know, eh?"
"You should leave now, eh?"
"I guess I should, eh?"
"I've been there before, eh?"
"Yeah. It's really nice there, eh?"
"Maybe I should take a camera, eh?"
"You should, eh."
"It's a nice day, eh?"
"We've had a nice week, eh?"
"I said 'we've had a nice week, eh?'"
"Oh yeah."

A non-Canadian looking at the exchange above would consider the usage of "eh" ridiculous and unnecessary. A Canadian would wonder why there weren't a couple more "ehs" in there.

Fact: 98% of Canadians admit that "eh" was their first word. The other 2% state that "eh" was their second word, after "Mama."

"Mama, eh?" is a popular sentence among Canadian babies.


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