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My Canadian Vocabulary is Expanding, y’all!

First off, I’m not from Canada.

When I’m here at ICO, I’m surrounded by a lot of Canadians and lately, my vocabulary has expanded a bit. Sometimes, I accidentally slip in the word washroom when I actually just want to use the restroom and/or bathroom.

My Canadian friends give me a hard time when I say the word “restroom.” They ask me, “Do you rest in that room?” I look at them with a puzzled face. I’m not going in there to rest, but what can I say? They are right; they are ALWAYS right!

Why do we call that room a bathroom when there is no bath in there? Why do we call that a restroom when we actually don’t rest there?! I can’t even answer that question, myself. Nonetheless, all of this new terminology has taken me one step closer to understanding the Canadian way.

Here are some of my new favorite Canadian words that I hear every now and then from my peers at ICO:

Zed – When you practice doing visual acuity on Canadians, they will read any letter like I do, except the letter Z. Isn’t Zedd a DJ or something? My Canadian friend explained to me that the way we (“Americans”) pronounce “Z” and “C” sound the same. So, instead of saying “zee,” they pronounce it “zed.” Z and C don’t sound the same to me, so I have no clue what they’re hearing. Must be a Canadian thing…

Washroom – Not the restroom, apparently.

Pencil Crayon – Canadians use the words “pencil crayons” to describe colored pencils. I guess I can kind of understand where they’re coming from. Good news though- they still call crayons, “crayons!” At least we see eye-to-eye there.

Writing exams & receiving marks – Let’s just say both of these phrases threw me off, too. We’re not writing exams. We take exams. You know who writes exams? Our professors! This can be an arguable topic, but let’s make it clear that the only people that I’ve heard actually using these phrases are Canadians.

Smarties = Rockets – One time, my friends and I got free Smarties candy. You know- it’s the candy that teachers like to give in elementary school to tell us we’ll be smarter if we eat these. When my Canadian friends got ahold of the Smarties, they started calling them “Rockets.” Rockets are essentially the same type of candy as Smarties. In Canada, they just have a different name.

Toque – One day, one of my Canadian friends walked into class and saw me wearing a beanie. She said to me, “Nice toque,” and I looked at her and said, “Nice what?” According to the Internet, a toque is a “knitted hat that one would wear during the winter. Americans call it a beanie.” Now I understand what she means when she tells me I have a nice toque. It’s definitely a compliment!

It has been a fun and joyous occasion to learn all of these new vocabulary words from my Canadian peers, especially when they begin to slip into my vocabulary. I don’t get much of this back home in Texas. I look forward to hearing any other “foreign” words or phrases that don’t seem to appear in the American vocabulary bank that often.

Thanks to my Canadian friends for getting this American more Canadian-cultured!


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