Having lived in Canada for so many years, I think that I have a pretty good grasp on not only who Canadians are, but how they communicate with each other!
Canada has an interesting history which is evidenced by many of our place names.
For example. If you rearrange the letters spelling the name of the City I first worked in, you would logically have an anagram. If you rearranged them yet again, and into the correct sequence, you could be forgiven for still thinking that you have an anagram!
Canada has two official languages, neither of which has any connection with the original residents here. However, although Canada really does have two official languages, being English and French, the realities are rather different and we all need to determine the “language of choice” for any given part of Canada if we are going to communicate effectively. As an example, many of the French contingent avoid speaking English, and the English speaking contingent are trying hard to forget French.
Newfoundland’s bilingualism is simply something that vaguely resembles English… and Noof. Other Maritime Provinces use similar English to Newfoundland with a rather creative and puzzling variation on French as the alternate language.
The Province of Quebec claims first prize for French but, sadly, it is not easily understood in France. Try talking Shakespearean English in London (England) and you will get an understanding of France’s position.
The other Provinces are discreet enough to mask their obvious preference to what is generally known as English. “Generally known as” is an appropriate term because it does gets a little more complicated.
Someone once described England and the US as two countries separated by a common language and, when one considers what the US has done to the English language, the comment makes perfect sense. Due to the size and location of the US, they have clearly, and inevitably, influenced the language in Canada which has resulted in much confusion.
For example. Every kitchen in England has a cooker. When the English use their cooker, they are (no surprise) cooking!. In Canada (thank you US) every kitchen has a stove, and yet never have I heard of anybody stoving! Of course it could be argued that “hoods and trunks” make more sense than “bonnets and boots” but hey……. it’s a really old language and is therefore entitled to some quirks eh!
The variations of our two official languages that are spoken between our three coast lines really is remarkable. We are proud of our multi-cultural population and their willingness to integrate while maintaining their own languages, and so the end result is a potential smorgasbord of sounds as you walk around (e.g.) Toronto (aka Tronna or TO [tee-o]).
So what does “two official languages mean”?
It means that wherever we go, we are likely to be confronted with signage in both languages. It means that business mail intended for wide distribution will have the English on one side, and the French on the other side. It means that products marketed in Canada must show both languages in all associated texts. It means that I often ponder over just how much of my taxes are going to the various levels of government in order to not only support our bilingualism both in signage and documentation, but also in enforcement.
I have recently heard “confused” and “Canadian” used in the same sentence as an attempt to describe us!
Given that our most common language spoken is US English; that early French is also confronting us on a regular basis; that on any given day around here, I can hear conversations in Portuguese, Italian, Chinese & Korean, interspersed with smatterings of Slavic languages and perhaps the odd Dutch and German contributions; that we have significant East Indian and West Indian residents and, in my first job in Canada, my first contact was with a Japanese gentleman; that not only do we hear numerous variations on English based on where they originally came from in England, but we also have a S. African contingent with their own unique presentation of the English Language….. confused?????
Of course we are and, in my best English, …. “Damn proud of it eh!”
Footnote: In this “melting pot of cultures” that we call Canada, there are so many nationalities that I did not mention. My apologies to them, but readers should know that they are all a valuable part of the Canada that we love!