As a writer, there’s one thing that trips me up frequently as I go about my hobby, and it really annoys me.

Any guesses? No? Well, here it is: it’s the inability for software producers to recognize that there is indeed such a thing as Canadian English, as subtle a difference as it might be from American English. My beef is that even in 2017, every word processor, every iPhone, every copy of friggin’ Firefox (where I write this post) underlines Humour as an apparent non-word, while Humor is the literary heir apparent. I got news for you: North of 49, it isn’t.

Canada, being what it is, a cultural love child carrying genes from both the USA and Britain, borrows etymology (word structure origin) from both countries, and it’s been this way for awhile. So the “U” we pop into such a word — along with another example like colour — we borrow from the British; on the other hand, those rubbery donuts you roll your car on top of, well, we call those tires like most Americans (in the UK, it’d be a tyre). Like I said, it’s a blend.

I know; there’s a workaround in most computers, where you can load a Canadian keyboard layout and spell-checker to remedy this issue. The problem is that it’s an inelegant solution, lumping together all the diacritic marks for our French Canadian brethren in Québec, in all the places where you’d expect regular English punctuation to be (A diacritic, by the way, is the term for phonetic symbols above letters. There’s one in this paragraph for good measure, see if you can find it).

I guess that one of the perks for constantly threatening to separate from the rest of Canada, is getting your own keyboard layout as a consolation prize to stick it out with the anglophiles.

Want to know what’s even more annoying? In all of this, “eh” is recognized as a word, both in computer spell checks and the American psyche of surely how all Canadians speak. Yet this slang term is not nearly as commonplace as the random Canuck characters that make cameo appearances on US sitcoms would suggest (it’s also just that: a slang term, and therefore it should have the damn underline). I honestly think the whole eh thing is used as part of the denigration machine to make Americans chuckle and feel better about their drawl and lilt collection.

Forget nationalism; if you just look at us as software consumers, well then there’s 40 million pissed off customers who’d like a better solution. We have two languages: Canadian English and Canadian French. Please, just throw us a software patch already and get rid of the red squigglies below colour, centre, litre, and all the others I can’t remember right now.

Humour me.

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2 thoughts on “In Good Humour

  1. I have the SAME problem being Australian. It’s so frustrating. We use Centre and Humour, but we use tyre instead of tire – though I’m pretty sure there are some US spellings or words we favour over UK ones, can’t think of them right now. When I lived in the UK, I found Aussie culture to be a mix between the UK & US (plus our own weird idiosyncrasies). Even though the American culture does heavily influence us, I think personality wise we’re most similar to Canadians, you guys are so easy to get along with!! I went to a friend’s wedding in Canada last year and the reception was probably filled with guests that were half Aussie / half Canadian. Best party I ever went to! I also discovered fireball that night, so maybe that contributed haha. However, one thing that stood out was the ‘eh?’, for even after being there for five weeks I still couldn’t have a conversation with a Canadian without picking it up!! It cracked me up. You guys use it ALL the time. I even (quite unintentionally) started adding it to my own sentences, but with the Aussie pronunciation of ‘hey’. But on a more disturbing note, I heard a Canadian using ‘double fisted’ to explain having two drinks in their hand. We call it ‘double parked’. LOL


  2. Yeah, double fisting is definitely a Canadian thing, even if it does have some vaguely sinister other meanings haha. As for the whole ‘eh’ thing, I feel like it’s a bigger thing east of British Columbia. We say it, but not as much as next door in Alberta (and beyond). Just my opinion though.

    We love it when Australians visit! You guys are like tan Canadians. Well, you’ve got a cooler accent and you party harder, but you’re otherwise so similar haha. And usually more polite than Americans – you don’t mock us over our gun control laws or plastic dollar bills, for example 😉

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