In Britain, the footwear are trainers, but in Canada they might be runners, running shoes or sneakers, except in Quebec French where they are espadrilles, whereas in France they are *basket*

In Britain, the footwear shown are trainers, but in Canada they might be runners, running shoes or sneakers depending on the region of the country, except in Quebec French where they are espadrilles, whereas in France they are *basket*
Photo Credit: Josiah Mackenzie/Flickr cc

Translating Canadian English, into Canadian English

It seems that depending on which part of this very big country Canadians live in, we have developed different names for the same thing.

For example in one part of the country the popular term for sports footwear might be “running shoes”, where in another part they’re called “sneakers.

A website called “The Ten and Three” has created a survey of sorts looking at what words are popular and whereabouts in the country.

Arik Motskin is co-editor and co-founder of the site

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ARik Motskin, co-founder, co-editor, The 10 and 3
Arik Motskin, co-founder, co-editor, The 10 and 3 © supplied

You’re from one area of the country travel to another and want to buy say, cigarettes.

You ask a stranger where the corner store is, and they give you a quizzical look…you explain want you want to buy, and they say oh…a convenience store…

Canada has developed a number of regionalisms, different words to describe the same thing.

The 10 and 3 website, which is an online publication dedicated to a variety of interesting and sometimes quirky Canadian data recently did a fairly comprehensive study of these regional differences, aided by a linguistic expert from Montreal’s McGill University.

The small store that sells milk, brread, pop, candy, some tinned and boxed foods, magazines.. in some places its a corner store, others its a convenience store, and in Quebec a depanneur or *dep*.
The small store that sells milk, bread, pop, candy, cigarettes, some tinned and boxed foods, magazines.. in some places its a corner store, others its a convenience store, and in Quebec a depanneur or *dep*. © Min Dhariwal/CBC)

They polled more than 9,500 Canadians in an online survey in June about “regional” words, but made sure to only use responses from those who grew up in that region and were still living there.

Interestingly, Quebec is a mainly French speaking province, but with an almost equally long English presence. Quebec English is perhaps even more unique as they have completely adopted some French words.

The colour intensity indicates the degree to which the term is most commonly used © The 10 and 3

The corner/convenience store is a depanneur or dep  (Interestingly, a “depanneuse” in France is a tow-truck).

areas where certain tems for the same thing are common
areas where certain tems for the same thing are common. The darker the colour, the more common the usage of that word © The 10 and 3

While there are quite a few differences for summer vacation property such as cottage or cabin, in Quebec French the word cottage is common, but it has nothing to do with a vacation house, which in both English and French in Quebec is known as a chalet.

A (usually summer season) vacation property is called a cottage in southern Ontario, camp in northern Ontario, chalet in Quebec, cabin in the west, and bungalow in Cape Breton.
A (usually summer season) vacation property is called a cottage in southern Ontario, camp in northern Ontario, chalet in Quebec, cabin in the west, and bungalow in Cape Breton. © Royal lePage- Gurr real estate

The 10 and 3 survey covers a number of different expressions and shows in several maps where those expressions are most common across the country.

Cottage a vendre: In Quebec French a *cottage* is a two story detached house, not a vacation property at all. This one is for sale in Montreal for $2.779,000.
“Cottage a vendre”: In Quebec French the English word *cottage* is common in real estate but it means a two story detached house, not a vacation property at all. This one is for sale in Montreal for $2.779,000. © Re/max

Canada sure is interesting, eh?

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One comment on “Translating Canadian English, into Canadian English
  1. Peter Ashcroft says:

    Fascinating article