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Orianna2000
12-04-2011, 07:26 AM
The MC of my novel is from Canada, albeit 700 years in the future, so I'm trying to give him some Canadian things to say. I've heard that, in some parts of Canada, they refer to "Providence" instead of "God". Is this common throughout Canada? He's from a fictional city near the Great Lakes. Is that someplace that might use "Providence"?

Are there any rules to dictate when it would be used? I mean, can I simply do a search/replace to exchange "God" for "Providence", or would it only be used in certain ways? If he says, "For God's sake, be fast!" could that be, "For Providence's sake, be fast!"? Or would it only be used when actually referring to God, like saying, "I don't think Providence is responsible for that."

Are there any other uniquely Canadian phrases I might have him use? I don't want to stereotype him, just give him a little local flavor, so to speak.

Thanks in advance!

Drachen Jager
12-04-2011, 08:17 AM
First off, providence is short for 'divine providence'. It does not mean 'god' rather it means god's interaction with the world. So yes, you're using it wrong.

Secondly, by and large, Canadians do not believe God intervenes in any way in the day to day affairs on this ball of mud. That is an Americanism. Canadians, those of us who ARE religious (and that number is shrinking rapidly, so 700 years from now it would be pretty much nobody) take a very different view to the American idea of God as the guy who guided your hands so you could catch that winning touchdown, or gave you the right numbers so you could win the lottery.

So, when we do day things like 'diving providence' it is generally meant sarcastically.

"Why is this beer cold?"="Divine Providence"

"Why did the Flames win?"="Well Iginla pulled an awesome move, deked the defenseman and whipped one past Khabiboulin before he knew what was happening."

Lady MacBeth
12-04-2011, 08:27 AM
I'm Canadian and I've never heard anyone use "Providence." If your MC is from a fictional city near the Great Lakes, chances are he will have some American terms in his speech. Also, we have a lot of French influence.

There are numerous Canadian stereotypes, most of which were pointed out in the closing ceremonies at the Vancouver Olympics. There was a Molson beer commercial that kind of hit the mark too. You'll find it on YouTube. "I Am Canadian."

You could try checking out some television shows like Corner Gas or Flashpoint. They might help.

Good luck!

jennontheisland
12-04-2011, 08:35 AM
Watch "Kids in the Hall" to get an idea of our humour.

Never heard the Providence thing either, but I've heard people from the Maritimes say "lord t'underin jesus" (the "th" comes out as a "t" rather than "th")

Lady MacBeth
12-04-2011, 08:37 AM
So, when we do day things like 'diving providence' it is generally meant sarcastically.

"Why is this beer cold?"="Divine Providence"

"Why did the Flames win?"="Well Iginla pulled an awesome move, deked the defenseman and whipped one past Khabiboulin before he knew what was happening."


That too. Sarcasm rules up here.

KTC
12-04-2011, 09:12 AM
Nobody uses providence...if we did, we wouldn't use it incorrectly. God is dying in the North...thank God!!!

Phrases that people say are uniquely Canadian usually make me laugh.

I have to wonder if you heard that stupid providence thing on an embarrassing Canadian TV show, like Road To Avonlea or something like it.

jennontheisland
12-04-2011, 09:22 AM
I have to wonder if you heard that stupid providence thing on an embarrassing Canadian TV show, like Road To Avonlea or something like it.
Sarah Polley has always rubbed me the wrong way and I'm pretty sure it has to do with that horrible show.

Also, check out Royal Canadian Air Farce and This Hour has 22 Minutes to see how we treat our politicians.

Kathleen42
12-04-2011, 09:22 AM
The only times I have ever heard people say "Providence" have been in Anne of Green Gables and Road to Avonlea.

I'm from the East Coast, though.

blacbird
12-04-2011, 09:37 AM
Don't be a hoser, eh?

caw

LJD
12-04-2011, 10:05 AM
Agree with Drachen Jager re: providence and God



There are certain words that are used in Canada that aren't used much elsewhere (eg. toque)

there are also certain words that have slightly different meanings in Canada (eg. college)

Canadians use some words which are common in the UK but not in the US. However, generally Canadian English vocab is more similar to American English. The wikipedia entry is not bad.

The only phrase I can think of, if it can even be called that, is "eh." I have met some people who do use it quite a bit.

Xelebes
12-04-2011, 10:23 AM
A good exploratory discussion on the differences of culture and language in Canada between each region. (http://forum.skyscraperpage.com/showthread.php?t=195164)

I personally haven't been to the Great Lake region, so I don't know specific slang. But what I can say is that in 700 years, the language of the Great Lakes will be changing, so there will be greater use of Chinese and Indian words within the next hundred years and from there we cannot project.

Xelebes
12-04-2011, 10:24 AM
Don't be a hoser, eh?

caw

You tellin' us that in your bunnyhug?

Orianna2000
12-04-2011, 05:06 PM
First off, providence is short for 'divine providence'. It does not mean 'god' rather it means god's interaction with the world. So yes, you're using it wrong.

Good to know, thanks!


Secondly, by and large, Canadians do not believe God intervenes in any way in the day to day affairs on this ball of mud. That is an Americanism. Canadians, those of us who ARE religious (and that number is shrinking rapidly, so 700 years from now it would be pretty much nobody) take a very different view to the American idea of God as the guy who guided your hands so you could catch that winning touchdown, or gave you the right numbers so you could win the lottery. This may be more of a particular religious thing than an American thing. I'm pretty religious and I live in the USA, but I don't believe that God gives out lottery numbers, or helps teams win football games, or anything like that.


That too. Sarcasm rules up here.
Interesting. I have a character in a different book that uses a lot of sarcasm, so I probably won't make that part of this MC's personality, but it's good to know. Maybe I can incorporate it into some of the minor characters.


I have to wonder if you heard that stupid providence thing on an embarrassing Canadian TV show, like Road To Avonlea or something like it.
Anne of Green Gables, actually. Close enough. But I think I've seen it elsewhere, too. I've had the impression for years that it was a common Canadian expression.


The only phrase I can think of, if it can even be called that, is "eh." I have met some people who do use it quite a bit.
Maybe I'll use that a couple of times, then. I was afraid it would seem like a stereotype, but I guess not?


A good exploratory discussion on the differences of culture and language in Canada between each region. (http://forum.skyscraperpage.com/showthread.php?t=195164)

I personally haven't been to the Great Lake region, so I don't know specific slang. But what I can say is that in 700 years, the language of the Great Lakes will be changing, so there will be greater use of Chinese and Indian words within the next hundred years and from there we cannot project.
Thanks for the link. And you're right, in 700 or 800 years, the language and slang will have evolved quite a bit. That's why I'm trying not to sweat over it too much. I mean, I could go and invent a whole new culture and language for 28th century Canada, but that would be a lot of work for what amounts to maybe three chapters out of the whole novel. I don't think anyone will be disturbed by the fact that future-Canada is rather modern, as far as speech goes. Otherwise, it would probably be indecipherable.

Thanks to everyone who replied. I won't be using Providence after all. :)

Domoviye
12-04-2011, 07:00 PM
I'm from the Great Lakes area, the northern part. Generally people in that area speak like people in the Northern US. There's a slight rolling of the vowels, but not as pronounced as other parts of Canada.
And of course we'll use terms like toque, pop (soda), highway (instead of freeway), two-four (a 24 case of beer), hydro (electricity, often used in conjunction with a curse due to high prices), Newfie (Newfoundlander, similar to calling someone a hillbilly), and suck (a weak person, "You're a suck").

Snick
12-04-2011, 07:32 PM
Since you are going 700 years into the future, you can have them spaek however you like. While the English language may stagnate, it is just as likely that it will continue to change, as it has in the past. That would suggest that it might be as different then as Modern English is from Middle English.

strandedhero
12-04-2011, 11:21 PM
I've never heard anyone use the word providence the way you're describing and I've lived all over Canada.

In Quebec we have a lot of slang that's got a french influence, like "dep" for a corner store, and "sec 1" instead of grade 7, but if you're 700 years in the future then you can probably make it sound however you want, trying too hard to make it "Canadian" will probably end up sounding phony anyway.

LJD
12-05-2011, 02:58 AM
Maybe I'll use that a couple of times, then. I was afraid it would seem like a stereotype, but I guess not?


"Eh" is Canadian stereotype, and I've met only a few people who use it an awful lot, but many people do use it on occasion. When I use it, it is almost always in the following sentence: "It's good, eh?" when referring to food that both myself and my dinner companion are eating. (I know, that's awful specific, but it's not an uncommon situation.) Here, the "eh?" could be replaced with "isn't it?". Portrayals of Canadians on TV sometimes make it seem like "eh" is something that is thrown into the conversation regularly almost at random. So, make sure you don't do that. (I realize this is for comic effect...but I suspect that as a result, a lot of people outside Canada don't know when it would actually be used)

When my boyfriend and I were in California for holidays this summer and someone said, "Have a good day," to us, my boyfriend would invariably reply with , "You too, eh" and I was waiting for someone to comment on it, but no one ever did.


If it were me writing a book set 700 years in the future, I would just have fun making up new Canadianisms...

Orianna2000
12-05-2011, 06:03 AM
I'll keep "eh" to a minimum.

It is possible that the language would have stagnated somewhat, given the circumstances of my Canada's history. But it's just as likely that language would have evolved even further. I've read books that use unique "future" slang and it can be done well, but it can also be absolutely terrible. If anything, I might add a few unusual phrases to give it more of a futuristic feel, but I'll keep it subtle.

MeretSeger
12-05-2011, 07:40 AM
Let me throw out a verb issue I've heard from the Torontonian hubby:

-He writes exams, he doesn't take tests
-He also writes the bills, rather than pays them.

He never 'eh's or 'aboots', but he is always 'sow-ry', not 'sah-ry' ...and the 'a's are always flat, even in 'pasta'...

Since it would be really hard to express the likely evolution of the vowels (and Toronto vowels are distinctive!), verb use might be something to work with. I'm sure there are more, that 'write' thing I just catch all the time.

jennontheisland
12-05-2011, 08:00 AM
I pay bills. But I do it with cheques. (not really, but thought I'd use that as a means to point out the spelling difference)

Chumplet
12-05-2011, 08:15 AM
Yeah, from Toronto here and never heard the Providence thing. I've lived all over the eastern part of Canada and the lingo changes considerably from region to region. For instance, in northern Ontario, people will say, "I seen" instead of "I saw."

frimble3
12-05-2011, 11:23 AM
Been in British Columbia all my life, and don't recall hearing the 'Providence' thing. When I hear 'Providence', I think 'Rhode Isand'.
It sounds both old-fashioned and American. Or at least Eastern.

KTC
12-05-2011, 05:02 PM
Let me throw out a verb issue I've heard from the Torontonian hubby:

-He writes exams, he doesn't take tests
-He also writes the bills, rather than pays them.



I am from Toronto. I have NEVER in my life heard of ANYONE 'writing the bills'. I PAY mine. I don't 'write exams' either. I 'take tests'. Is your husband from an English family who lived in Toronto??

LJD
12-05-2011, 10:27 PM
I am from Toronto. I have NEVER in my life heard of ANYONE 'writing the bills'. I PAY mine. I don't 'write exams' either. I 'take tests'.

'writing the bills' sounds pretty strange to me too, and I have lived in Toronto nearly my entire life. I do, however, say 'write exams'.

MeretSeger
12-05-2011, 11:43 PM
I am from Toronto. I have NEVER in my life heard of ANYONE 'writing the bills'. I PAY mine. I don't 'write exams' either. I 'take tests'. Is your husband from an English family who lived in Toronto??

No, his family has been there forever...but now that you mention it, his grandmother who lived with them WAS from England. Neighbors up there said 'write', too, so I assumed it was universal. Any chance there are dialect differences around the metro area?

Nualláin
12-05-2011, 11:45 PM
I definitely don't write bills, but when I was a student I did write exams. (Well, actually I stumbled in in a drunken stupor and drew anatomically incorrect pictures of stick-men in compromising situations, then went out for a pee and didn't come back, but I still called it writing exams.)

Commonly held stereotypes about "Canadian English" tend to be based on very, very small groups of people, and often on those small groups being caricatured in the media somehow. On the page, there isn't a whole lot that would quite markedly set the speech of someone from southern Ontario apart from the speech of your average New Englander.

Have you considered using the "u" in "colour" and calling it a day?

Orianna2000
12-06-2011, 07:35 AM
Commonly held stereotypes about "Canadian English" tend to be based on very, very small groups of people, and often on those small groups being caricatured in the media somehow. On the page, there isn't a whole lot that would quite markedly set the speech of someone from southern Ontario apart from the speech of your average New Englander.

Have you considered using the "u" in "colour" and calling it a day?
About 3/4 of the novel takes place in London, so I'm already dealing with nappies and torches and other British terms. I'm keeping the spellings American, however, since the narrator is from Boston. I might need to look for a beta-reader from New England to catch things like "soda" vs. "pop".

Snick
12-06-2011, 08:02 AM
About 3/4 of the novel takes place in London, so I'm already dealing with nappies and torches and other British terms. I'm keeping the spellings American, however, since the narrator is from Boston. I might need to look for a beta-reader from New England to catch things like "soda" vs. "pop".

I think that you meant "tonic". Where are you from? Worcester?

.

Orianna2000
12-06-2011, 08:31 AM
I think that you meant "tonic". Where are you from? Worcester?

Me? I'm not from the Boston area. My female MC is from a village south of Boston, 700 years in the future, but I live elsewhere. I've never heard of "tonic" except as snake oil remedies and hair creams. Is that what Bostonians call soda?

Nualláin
12-06-2011, 11:32 PM
About 3/4 of the novel takes place in London, so I'm already dealing with nappies and torches and other British terms. I'm keeping the spellings American, however, since the narrator is from Boston. I might need to look for a beta-reader from New England to catch things like "soda" vs. "pop".

Pop is definitely an instant identifier. I actually recall being introduced to a friend of a friend years ago, can't remember where he was from, but in his lexicon "Having a pop" meant punching someone in the face.

We had to be very careful ordering soft drinks around him...

mirandashell
12-06-2011, 11:36 PM
Tonic is made from quinine and goes with gin or vodka. Or both if you want to. But not in the same glass.

Nualláin
12-06-2011, 11:38 PM
Tonic is made from quinine and goes with gin or vodka. Or both if you want to. But not in the same glass.

One glass in each hand, however, is perfectly acceptable.

mirandashell
12-06-2011, 11:40 PM
Oh absolutely.

CaroGirl
12-06-2011, 11:46 PM
There are lots of expressions and words that are specifically (though not necessarily uniquely) Canadian. Many of them have already been said, like toque (pronounced with long oooo sound; not like toke) and pop instead of soda. We also say grade 7 instead of using the ordinal: seventh grade. We use the metric system. That might be a good way to illustrate the Canadian-ness of your story. Have all the highway signs in kilometres instead of miles.

I'll come back if I think of anything else.

profen4
12-06-2011, 11:52 PM
Poutine. Ahhhh.... in the future I assure you, there will be poutine!


ETA: I second the grade seven, grade eight ... thing. It feels weird to say seventh grade, or eighth grade. and I have no clue what sophomore, junior, freshman, or any other such term means.

ETA2: I will say "chesterfield" from time to time.
quan ao thoi trang dep (http://doxinh.com/danh-muc/quan-ao-thoi-trang/) ao chip (http://doxinh.com.vn/danh-muc/do-lot-nu/ao-lot-nu/) do so sinh loai khac cho be (http://doxinh.vn/danh-muc/do-so-sinh-cho-be/do-so-sinh-khac/) thoi trang cong so nu (http://trangbanbuon.com/danh-muc/thoi-trang-cong-so/) thoi trang cong so nu (http://trangbanbuon.vn/danh-muc/thoi-trang-cong-so/) trang phuc cuoi (http://roses.vn/studio/cho-thue-trang-phuc/trang-phuc-cuoi/)
ETA3: A washroom is a place you use a toilet. A laundry room is where you wash clothes. I've gotten looks when I've asked someone south of the border if I could use their washroom.

ETA4: I still hear "serviette" quite often, though I seldom use it.

mirandashell
12-06-2011, 11:55 PM
What's poutine?

CaroGirl
12-06-2011, 11:57 PM
What's poutine?

Poutine is manna of the gods. It's actually French fries (English chips) covered with cheese curds and smothered in hot gravy. It tastes better than it sounds.

CaroGirl
12-06-2011, 11:59 PM
I have no clue what sophomore, junior, freshman, or any other such term means.
I second that. I never know what that means either.

mirandashell
12-06-2011, 11:59 PM
Oh good lord! That's heartburn on a plate!

CaroGirl
12-07-2011, 12:00 AM
Oh good lord! That's heartburn on a plate!

Yeah. A little bit. ;)

profen4
12-07-2011, 12:09 AM
I want to sit on my chesterfield, eating poutine, with a stack of serviettes nearby :)
quan ao thoi trang han quoc (http://doxinh.com/danh-muc/quan-ao-thoi-trang/) ao lot nu (http://doxinh.com.vn/danh-muc/do-lot-nu/ao-lot-nu/) do so sinh khac (http://doxinh.vn/danh-muc/do-so-sinh-cho-be/do-so-sinh-khac/) thoi trang cong so gia re (http://trangbanbuon.com/danh-muc/thoi-trang-cong-so/) thoi trang cong so gia re (http://trangbanbuon.vn/danh-muc/thoi-trang-cong-so/) trang phuc co dien (http://roses.vn/studio/cho-thue-trang-phuc/trang-phuc-co-trang/)
Oh - and we don't wear our bloody shoes in the house!!!

Charles Farley
12-07-2011, 12:10 AM
Oh good lord! That's heartburn on a plate!


Some like to add Ketchup, mayo or vinegar ..

mirandashell
12-07-2011, 12:14 AM
Some like to add Ketchup, mayo or vinegar ..


:Wha::e2faint:

CaroGirl
12-07-2011, 12:19 AM
Some like to add Ketchup, mayo or vinegar ..

Uh, but most don't. You wouldn't see that around here or anywhere in Quebec where it originated. Must be one of them big city Tranna things.

Bushrat
12-07-2011, 01:03 AM
700 years in the future?
You can make up whatever you like. It will no resemblance to today's Canada.

jennontheisland
12-07-2011, 01:32 AM
Christmas crackers. We have them.

Charles Farley
12-07-2011, 02:05 AM
Uh, but most don't. You wouldn't see that around here or anywhere in Quebec where it originated. Must be one of them big city Tranna things.

Yeah . . We just can't leave well enough alone . . ;)

Orianna2000
12-07-2011, 02:23 AM
Thanks for all the tips! I've changed bathroom to washroom--when the male MC is speaking, at least. And I've changed miles to kilometers while they're in Canada.

Any similar tips for New England? I'd hate for the female MC to be calling it a bathroom when folks in Boston call it something else, for example.

Someone really ought to write a guide book about these kinds of things. Or a series of guide books: "A Local's Guide to Slang in Canada" or "A Local's Guide to Slang in New England". It'd be very useful for writers who have characters from different places.

dragonangel517
12-07-2011, 03:07 AM
www.aboutlanguageschools.com/slang/boston-slang.asp

Orianna2000
12-07-2011, 03:08 AM
www.aboutlanguageschools.com/slang/boston-slang.asp
Oh, awesome! Thanks. :)

Nualláin
12-07-2011, 05:38 AM
Someone really ought to write a guide book about these kinds of things. Or a series of guide books: "A Local's Guide to Slang in Canada" or "A Local's Guide to Slang in New England". It'd be very useful for writers who have characters from different places.

"What Do They Call The Loo Here? A Traveller's Guide to the Pause That Relieves"

I would so buy that book.

Mark G
12-09-2011, 12:55 AM
FYI:
Freshman = first year (year 1 in Canadian)
Sophomore = year 2
Junior = year 3
Senior = year 4

Hope that helps :)

jennontheisland
12-09-2011, 01:04 AM
I've never understood why the years are named. Not everyone completes a degree in 4 years. My program is 5; what will I be in my last year of school? And high school... number of "grades" in high school varies. When I was in AB, 10, 11, and 12 were "high school." In some parts of small town BC, 8-12 are "high school."

The whole "sophomore" thing makes no sense in those contexts. Probably why we don't use it. There's enough nonsense up here as it is.

Ken
12-09-2011, 01:25 AM
... with lingo in general, the further north you go the less people speak. Up in Canada a few words suffice for convo. "Got any tobacco, Bob." "Sure thing, Sam." And that's about it when two pals get together to shoot the breeze. Down in the lower 48 things are different. People chatter continually and take it as a personal affront if a conversation they're having has a moment of silence in it. Sad state of affairs if you ask me. Soon as I'm able I'm gonna head up to Yellowknife and settle down. So if you want my advice you'll include only a few words of dialogue in your novel, along with some respectable grunts and growls, which might suffice for slang.