Canajun, Eh?

29 04 2010

Whatcha think

That’s right, I’m Canadian, or ‘Canajun’ as Mark M. Orkin says in his book “Canajun, Eh?” This book is a lark, a spoof reference that pretends to be a dictionary of Canadian english. In actuality, it is a comprehensive list of the shibboleths that give us away in international company, complete with phonetic spelling.

A book by any other name would be another book

A selection of excerpts from this definitive collection would include, but by no means be limited to:
ASBESTOS : To the extent of your ability. As in: “You’ll haveta make do asbestos you can.”
PAUL TISHUN: A practitioner of paul ticks,q.v.
PINE EAR: A person who first enters or settles a region.
LITTER CHOOR: Books and writings, either of a general or specific place or period. As in “Our classes taken Canajun litter choor necks term.”

Don’t harsh my mellow, man
In this book, most of the definitions are between one and four lines long. The definition of the simple monosyllable “eh”, however, is just shy of four pages. As Canadians we are sometimes ridiculed for the presence of this word in our vocabulary, and that brings me down.

How to cope
I’ve given it some thought recently, brought to bear the old Taylor McKinlay Cerebral Contemplator. I’ve come to this conclusion; envy is the driving force behind this campaign of abuse from the world. We have something they do not. Oh, sure, the Americans have their “huh” and the Brits have a new quirky thing every other day, but we have taken one sound, two letters, and invested it with so much meaning that entire conversations can be had using “eh” as fifty percent of the word count. Some conversations, brief ones, can be made up of nothing more than this word and some punctuation.

A few of the meanings of eh, as suggested by Orkin, are: “what?”, “really?”, “you know?”, “like this, see?”, “I’m not fooling.”, and “I’d like to know since you’re so smart.”

Are you ready to accept responsibility?
As a signature of Canadian vocabulary, I feel “eh” has become an important part of our heritage, an irreplaceable Canadianism that should be put in the Canadian Hall Of Fame. (if anyone wants to start a Canadian Hall Of Fame) It should hold a place of high standing right alongside hockey, curling, cut out handles in the ends of beer boxes, insulin, Salk vaccine, interac cards and ATM’s, Canola, the walkie talkie, the pager, the hydrofoil, the snowmobile, the snowblower, sonar, basketball, goalies masks, five pin bowling, Pablum, the garbage bag, the candy bar, plexiglas, the paint roller and the Robertson screwdriver.

You have the right to take pride in your country and its heritage. Remember that anyone who makes fun of your language is probably only doing so to make themselves feel less conscious of their own language’s inadequacies. And if you can’t remember the above abbreviated list of our accomplishments to recite to people who are belittling our vocabulary, just look whoever the culprit is right in the eye and say “Sorry, I can’t unner stanja, ya musbe forn, eh?”

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