20 October 2010

Moose Jaw Minute #10: The "ehs" and "oots" of Moose Jaw

Okay...I vowed...VOWED...that I was not going to write about accents.  Enough has been written in other places, the subtle differences in cadence noted, the slight lilt of, oh, something, that makes the U.S. neighbors to the north speak just a smidge differently. 

But...is it remiss NOT to mention it?  Is it wrong to avoid the topic?  It IS a difference and IS something I've noticed since arriving in Saskatchewan.  I'm no stranger to accents.  I grew up an Army brat and as we made our way from New Jersey to Massachusetts, from Texas to Germany, I became bound and determined that I would NOT adopt an accent of any kind.  I would live my life accent-less and free from the trappings of having others identifiy me as coming from... well, SOMEWHERE, just by the way my voice sounds.

And yet, here I sit, a mere month and a half from my arrival in country, with "eh's" and "oots" emerging from my mouth. 

Case in point...Dave and I went grocery shopping the other evening and as we were grabbing our recyclable bags out of the trunk, I stated something along the lines of "What a crazy day, eh?"

Dave smiled.
I looked at him wondering what he was smiling about.
And then...BOOM!  It hit me.

Eh?  Eh?!?!  I noted that it had been creeping in more and more often, but he was there to offer lovely anti-accent support in phrases like, "You don't have an accent...don't worry about it...other people are just super-sensitive to it."  Sure.  I just found out from my sister that she and her husband, John, laugh about my newfound inflections every time they log off of Skype post-chat (payback for making fun of her southern accent since she moved to her beloved Georgia) and acknowledge that friends of mine at work like to gently joke with me about it when we are on calls from Moose Jaw to Chicago.  Don't get me wrong, I don't mind the accent, but after thirty-one years of having avoided one and being quite smug about said avoidance, I am beginning to wonder what is happening to my imaginary language barrier defense shield.  Dave and I have taken to coaching one another about "out" versus "oot," "yeah?" versus "eh?" and other fun approaches to saying various words.  It's not just about the accent, however, some other subtle differences I've semi-adopted since coming here include: 
  • Tuque (or touque) for a wooley winter hat.
  • Loonie for the dollar coin.
  • Toonie for the two-dollar coin.
  • Zed for "Z"
  • "Bunny hug" for a hoodie/sweatshirt
I should note that all of this being stated with the complete and utter understanding that while different regions of the U.S. have their accents, so does Canada (you can find out more about Canadian English here).  I do not claim to be an expert in all things Canada...least of all the accent!

So, I didn't want to talk about it, I didn't want to mention it, I didn't want to give the differences any mind...until I was standing the parking lot of the grocery.

I guess it was time to come to terms with it is and what it is becoming, eh?


*Photo via http://badluckcity.files.wordpress.com/2008/07/eh_quest.jpg

1 comment:

Melissa said...

ok, so here's another one for you, heather...

Today I was driving in the van with my mother-in-law and my three kids through winding roads in north Georgia. The roads wove in and out of beautiful scenery of changing autumn colors and rich farmland. Jonathan calls out from the far back of the van and says..."Mom, I'm fixin' to throw up!"

In case you didn't catch that, he said "fixin' to". I have VOWED to never say that, and here is my tiny, impressionable, southern-grown 5 year old son saying, "fixin' to". *sigh*