A new Canadian dictionary
May 29, 2010 3:15 PM   Subscribe

Now that the Canadian Oxford Dictionary hasn't published an edition since the 2nd in 2004, there's a challenger to the much-desired title of standard dictionary of Canadian English: ladies and gentlemen, the 1st edition of the Collins Canadian Dictionary. There's even a short-story contest to promote it: in your 1,000 words you have to include at least 10 from the dictionary.
posted by anothermug (44 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
And, of course, it starts with the obvious... A?
posted by hal9k at 3:24 PM on May 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

beaver fever n Canad an infectious disease caused by drinking water that has been contaminated by wildlife

That does it, my short story is going in a decidedly porny direction.
posted by axiom at 3:27 PM on May 29, 2010

I'll bet you can work butter tart in there too.

Note to HarperCollins: ice wine is not a Canadian term; it is used wherever lovers of sweet wines gather speaking English (unless, of course, they're pretentious enough to use Eiswein instead).
posted by languagehat at 3:43 PM on May 29, 2010

Dear Canadian Penthouse,

Last Canada Day I found myself stormstayed in my local hockey rink by a silver thaw. I was alone but for a handful of rink rats and one Ms. Alice Moodie, great-great-great-great-great-granddaughter of Susanna Moodie, who your readers I'm sure know is the author of Roughing It in the Bush.

Alice and I shared a dinner of poutine and flipper pie purloined from the chip wagon followed by a butter tart and a twenty-sixer of ice wine. I was feeling a bit warm, probably from beaver fever. Perhaps she was impaired by the ice wine, but you'll never believe what happened next...
posted by axiom at 3:51 PM on May 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

True, but it is (in theory) a Canadian invention -- quite close to where I live in Quebec. So if Canadians developed the process, it's (arguably) a Canadian term.

My poutine and Nanaimo bar slash fiction is finally taking flight!
posted by Shepherd at 3:56 PM on May 29, 2010

Canadian... English? Am I reading that right? Canadians speak English? Then who speaks Canadianese?
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:59 PM on May 29, 2010

Neat, but a bit lightweight. For really compelling Canadian dictionary reading, what you really want is the Dictionary of Newfoundland English. Allow me to compare:

Collins Canadian Dictionary:
tuckamore n Canad, esp. Newfoundland 1 a small stunted evergreen tree or bush with gnarled creeping roots 2 low dense scrub formed by such trees or bushes word origin from archaic sense of tuck tug + Middle English more: tree root

Dictionary of Newfoundland English:
tuckamore n also tuckamil, tucken-more, tuckermel, tuckermill, tuckermore DC ~ Nfld (1895-). For tucken-more, see TUCKING BUSH and MORE n. See also TUCK2. (a) Small stunted evergreen tree with gnarled spreading roots, forming closely matted ground-cover on the barrens; also attrib; (b) collectively, low stunted vegetation; scrub. 1863 MORETON 31 Tucken-mores. Small low-grown shrubs and creeping plants. 1866 WILSON 37 In the hollows are the tuckermore bushes, which is a dwarf juniper, with strong branches at right angles to the stem, and closely interlacing each other: the tops of these bushes are level, as if they had been clipped. To walk upon these tuckermores, or penetrate their branches, is equally impracticable. 1868 HOWLEY MS Reminiscences 9 The country is nearly level with scarcely any woods except occasional patches of tucking bushes (Tuckamores). 1891 PACKARD 84 Half-way down, as [the vale] widens out, [it becomes] choked with a stunted spruce and fir growth, or what the people call 'tucking,' or 'tuckermel-bush.' 1895 J A Folklore viii, 39 ~ , in some places tuckamil, a clump of spruce, growing almost flat on the ground and matted together, found on the barrens and bleak, exposed places. Ibid viii, 288 I drawed down to the tuckamores aside the pond and got twict thirty and varty yards from un. I lets drive and the loo' dove. 1919 GRENFELL2 229 He had gone through his snow racquets and actually lost the bows later, smashing them all up as he repeatedly fell through between logs and tree-trunks and 'tuckamore.' 1927 RULE 70 Travelling alongshore between Bonne Bay and Cow Head, I sometimes used the sloping surface of tuckermill as a couch to rest upon. 1970 Evening Telegram 21 May, p. 3 We proceeded as usual to the Witless Bay Line ... and from thence some 13 miles on foot in over the tuckamores. C 70-12 Tuckamore is a sort of low bush which grows in the marshes and in the small valleys. It is in the tuckamore that the path of a rabbit is most likely to be found. 1971 NOSEWORTHY 258 Tuckamoors or tuckamoor trees [are] low bushes on the barrens, about knee-high. 1981 Evening Telegram 17 Oct, p. 8 A good (and bad) cross-section of ptarmigan habitat (i.e. prostrate balsam, tuckamores, high plant or shrub cover, open tundra, rock exposures, marshes, etc).
posted by oulipian at 4:00 PM on May 29, 2010 [5 favorites]

There's even a short-story contest to promote it: in your 1,000 words you have to include at least 10 from the dictionary.

I should hope so! It seems to me it would be more of a contest if your words weren't in the dictionary.
posted by fairmettle at 4:02 PM on May 29, 2010

Metafilter: tuckamil, tucken-more, tuckermel, tuckermill, tuckermore
posted by HuronBob at 4:04 PM on May 29, 2010

I'm getting a Runtime error on the "1st edition" link.

Plus I feel surprised that impaired and humidex count as Canadian. Really?
posted by Lemurrhea at 4:10 PM on May 29, 2010

axiom: [Beaver fever?] That does it, my short story is going in a decidedly porny direction

Giardia is the new GaGa.
posted by Decimask at 4:27 PM on May 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

I've never heard the term beaver fever before, must be a rural thing. Interesting note: My father grew up in rural Canada before moving to Toronto in the 70s for Uni. When Bob & Doug Mackenzie's show came on he didn't get it at first because that was how he talked. Apparently that was the time that people stopped started talking like that, possibly due to the show. No idea if this is true, just what he passed on.

I've got to try some ice wine though, it sounds tasty. The only wine I've ever had (due to cost) is made in Hamilton. Taste the steel mills!
posted by Canageek at 4:49 PM on May 29, 2010

I was surprised by "impaired" too, and checked out a few dictionaries. The only interesting finding was in the Oxford English Dictionary, which had two definitions:

1. Rendered worse; injured in amount, quality, or value; deteriorated, weakened, damaged.

- 1611 Speed Hist. Gt. Brit. ix. viii.
- (1632) 563 He repaired with large diet his impayred lims and sinewes.
- 1719 Bolingbroke in Swift's Lett.
- (1766) II. 4 Those fancy'd ills, so dreadful to the great, A lost election, or impair'd estate.
- 1845 Stocqueler Handbk. Brit. India
- (1854) 170 Hamilton+was necessitated by an impaired constitution to return to England.

... and then the more specific:

2. Of a driver or his driving: adversely affected by the influence of alcohol or narcotics. Canad.
- 1951 Act (Canada) 15 Geo. VI c. 47 §14 Driving while ability to drive is impaired.
- 1957 (title) Report on impaired driving tests (Crime Detection Laboratories of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police).
- 1967 W. S. Avis et al. Dict. Canad. Eng., Senior Dict. 573/2 Impaired driver, one whose driving ability has been impaired by alcohol or narcotics.
- 1970 Toronto Daily Star 24 Sept. 37/1 Ange Gardien+was charged with impaired driving.
- 1972 Evening Telegram (St. John's, Newfoundland) 24 June 1/1 A police spokesman said the car received only slight damage. The driver was arrested and charged with impaired driving.
- 1973 Kingston (Ontario) Whig-Standard 18 Apr. 15/2 Another motorist+was fined $175 and prohibited from driving for four months on a charge of impaired driving.
- 1973 Daily Colonist (Victoria, B.C.) 26 Apr. 41/3 Georg Edward Haines+was fined $350 following his plea of guilty to a charge of being impaired early Wednesday in Victoria while in care or control of a vehicle. Ibid., Edward Weiland+pleaded guilty to a two-count Victoria charge of impaired driving and refusing to take a breath-analysis test.
- 1974 Kingston (Ontario) Whig-Standard 16 Jan. 5/4 A snowmobile operator was one of five persons assessed penalties ranging from $175 to $200 each in county court Tuesday on impaired driving charges.

Weird! (The OED had no entry for ice wine or humidex.)
posted by skwt at 5:07 PM on May 29, 2010

and Canageek: The only wine I've ever had (due to cost) is made in Hamilton.

What???? The only sense I can make of this is that you only drink home-made wine? Or are you telling me that all that $5 box wine in the LCBO is actually from Hamilton?
posted by skwt at 5:16 PM on May 29, 2010

I think he's telling us he has a death wish. C$5 wine? Sorry, buddy, that winter windshield washer fluid you're looking at!
posted by five fresh fish at 5:27 PM on May 29, 2010

Canageek, I can definitely confirm it was a standard term in west-coast Newfoundland in the 80's & 90's [Corner Brook - not really rural, but sort of].

Also, you should try some ice cider as well. I had a fantastic one in Montreal a few years ago.
posted by Lemurrhea at 5:36 PM on May 29, 2010

So, I remember a time. Back in Winnipeg. We were playing road hockey, right? My ass was hurtin' because I was wearing long gitch that needed a wash, but I was embarrassed to give'em to mom because I had, let's say, pulled my goalie without wearin' a doube. Anyway, I'm standin' there, and Dougie fuckin hucks the puck right at me! I said what's yer fucking problem, DougLASS?. Fuckin goof. Anyways, what I say, if someone asks me, as GIV'ER! That's all you gotta know.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 6:18 PM on May 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

I learned Giardia as "beaver fever" when hiking the Adirondacks as a youth. So it is a term in upstate New York.
posted by meinvt at 6:25 PM on May 29, 2010

I've never heard of any vineyards in Hamilton, although honestly all those steel mills' smoke blows right over Niagara Region so I guess the icewine might as well be Hamiltonian.

once lived three blocks from Stelco, am not dead yet
posted by tivalasvegas at 6:37 PM on May 29, 2010

Hey dammit, I'm from Hamilton. There's no wine here. If there were wine here and it was five bucks I'd know about it.
posted by the dief at 6:59 PM on May 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Two more words my girlfriend just had me guess:
Nipigon Nylons - Calf-length heavy wool socks, particularly with red & white striped pattern at the cuff.
Canadian Tuxedo - Double Denim, pairing blue jeans with a jean jacket
posted by anthill at 7:17 PM on May 29, 2010

How long is the entry for "eh"?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:17 PM on May 29, 2010

Like I tried reading some Farley once, ya know, but the book fell and knocked my beer over, eh? And that was on Dominion day too. So that's for hosers.
posted by Twang at 7:24 PM on May 29, 2010

It's odd that their definition for Bloody Caesar contains the trademark Tabasco, but substitutes "juice made from clams and tomatoes" for Clamato.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:32 PM on May 29, 2010

Apparently that was the time that people stopped started talking like that

I still hear that accent from people living/working outside the golden horseshoe. It ain't dead yet, eh.
posted by saucysault at 7:32 PM on May 29, 2010

PS: Nanaimo bar, anyone?
posted by Sys Rq at 7:33 PM on May 29, 2010

Yeah, I've definitely worked with some Bobs & Dougs up in Grey/Bruce in recent years. That shit won't die.

There is one aspect of the classic Canadian accent that is fading away, though: "Garbeedge." Whenever I'm listening to old Cheech & Chong, and Tommy throws an "-eedge" in there, I'm suddenly reminded that he's one of us.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:41 PM on May 29, 2010

There are people who claim "eh" isn't really said by Canadians, but I swear it is; you just have to be alert to it. Goldfish probably aren't aware of water.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:42 PM on May 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

I think this post is a Double Double
posted by Flashman at 7:46 PM on May 29, 2010 [3 favorites]

Needs more bunnyhug. "Hoodies" suck!
posted by Decimask at 7:56 PM on May 29, 2010

Do you know what the "Canadian Ballet" is? It's a strip club in a Canadian border town. If you go to college in Western New York, you say that you are going to the Canadian Ballet when you are going to drive across the border with your 19-year-old friends to drink lager and see boobies. It deserves to be in that dictionary even though actual Canadians probably don't use it.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:02 PM on May 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Do you know what the "Canadian Ballet" is?

posted by Sys Rq at 8:13 PM on May 29, 2010

I just so do not "get" Tim Hortons. It has revoltingly vile coffee, awful customer service, and nasty donuts. Whatever it once was, it is no longer. That so many Canadians support it — town of ~40K here and we have at least 4 Tim Horton's OMGWTFBBS — is pretty. fucking. depressing.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:14 PM on May 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

The term I'm familiar with, MC, is "peelers."

There are a ton of East Coast expressions that are absolutely unknown to those of us on the West Coast. And probably vice-versa. A natural consequence of being a very, very wide country.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:16 PM on May 29, 2010

Tims is good for all night driving and them who needs ta be at work at 6 or even 5, ya know. If tha's not you, tha's okay then but then ya don't should be down on what ain't for ya.
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:38 PM on May 29, 2010

Funny, in Ontario it isn't 'peelers', it's 'rippers.'
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 7:03 AM on May 30, 2010

Almost everybody in this small Northern Ontario mill town will refer to a utility knife as a "broke knife". At first I thought that this was because some of those knives allow you to break a section of the blade off to get a fresh edge, and people had just mangled the phrase.

Not true, though - broke knives are used for cutting broke, which is the term used to describe waste paper (i.e. ends of rolls etc) generated in the paper manufacturing process.

So many people in this town worked at or were connected to the mill that it just became common usage.
posted by davey_darling at 7:14 AM on May 30, 2010

davey_darling, as I read that I wondered which northern Ontario town you referred to, because I'm in another not-so-northern city, and I've never heard that! But, Sudbury's a nickel town, not a paper town, so that might explain why I've not heard "broke knife" before.
posted by Richat at 7:49 AM on May 30, 2010

At a conference in southern Ontario, when elections for the board of directors were taking place, I was surprised to hear "tell" being used as a noun for the result of a vote: "Is there a tell yet?" It was also used as a verb in the same context: "What are you telling for vice-president?" (asked of the teller). I was familiar with the term "teller" (official vote counter/recorder) used in other parts of Canada but found the other two usages new. Maybe they were just specific to the elections chair. Has anybody else come across these two forms, whether in Ontario or other places?
posted by drogien at 9:14 AM on May 30, 2010

Richat, I'm in Dryden - I suppose I should have said Northwestern Ontario to be precise.
posted by davey_darling at 11:54 AM on May 30, 2010

I saw the full-page ad in the Globe yesterday. As many of you will know, I wrote an E-book about Canadian spelling, Organizing Our Marvellous Neighbours, in 2008 (now in ePub for 2010). I also have a degree in linguistics.

I did actually a great deal of research to determine if canonical Canadian spelling actually is being followed. (It is.) In the process I encountered the utter travesty that is the Collins Canadian Dictionary (early paperback version). It listed a dozen editors, was obviously edited from the U.K., and was totally full of shit, to the point of “authorising” spellings like that one. I’m making these statements from memory; I went out of my way not to buy a copy, merely borrowing it from the library, so I don’t have it here to triple-check. The fact remains it was completely unreliable as a Canadian English resource in any guise.

I have considerable fears, and I do mean considerable, that the new version won’t be remotely better. Canadian spelling is unique, and there are thousands of Canadian terms not used anywhere else. I strongly suspect that, for example, a “shovel” is something used for coal (and isn’t a verb) and a “toque” is used by apprentice French chefs in their bizarre alternate universe. I wonder how “water” is pronounced.

I’m going to try to get a review copy. Again, don’t get your hopes up. The Canadian Oxford may not include very new terms like “podcast,” but is extremely reliable.
posted by joeclark at 2:50 PM on May 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


'Ginch', if you're in Northern BC, or 'gonch'.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:34 AM on May 31, 2010 [2 favorites]

Lends itself to great folk medical terms, too... Canadian Tinea cruris can be "gitch itch"
posted by anthill at 10:11 AM on May 31, 2010

In regards to the wine: I didn't buy it, a friend did. It was a bottled red and wound up getting knocked onto my carpet. I lived in Hamilton at the time (Going to McMaster) and it was probably bought at a local LCBO. I have no idea what it cost, but it was pretty bad so we checked the label and nearly killed ourselves laughing.

saucysault: That is kind of cool, I've never actually heard a stereotypical Canadian accent myself.
Sys Req: Actually that is where my Dad grew up (Grey County)

five fresh fish: There are a lot of east coast expressions that are probably not understood by anyone not from the region. The only one I can name right now is Owly...
posted by Canageek at 7:12 PM on June 1, 2010

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