Thursday, April 19

Coo roo coo coo coo roo coo coo

Ah the Great White North.  If you never had the pleasure of seeing SCTV or Bob & Doug McKenzie (Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas) the subject line won't make sense.  I put a short clip and introduction at the bottom that will remedy that.

After looking into the pyjama/pajama situation, I've ended up following other paths regarding language.  A few words have been listed as Canadian slang and I didn't think they were exclusively Canadian words (or usage of words).  Now a lot listed are names for cities, like Hogtown for Toronto, Cowtown for Calgary, the Peg for Winnipeg.  Or nick names for alcohol based on the sizes available and the way they sell them in various provinces.  I go to the liquor store or The Beer Store, in Manitoba I'd go to the LC or a beer vendor (often prefaced by the street/intersection to say which one - the 24th street vendor).  Some words are really regional, like Tanit-Isis and her bunny hugs or socials, buck & does, stag & does and shags are all the same thing depending on where you are.  I once heard Tom Power (of the CBC and Dardanelles) introduce the band in a thick Newfoundland accent using as many expressions as he could and I didn't understand a damn thing he said (which was the point as humour). 

But are these really Canadian?  I guess you don't know when other people aren't using the same words until you ask.  So do you use these?
  • Slack/slacker - being lazy.  I use this all the time.  Frankly I'm slacking just by reading that list.  They say it's used for low quality, and I might say someone slacked off making something but I wouldn't say something is slack (unless there was extra rope where it should be taught)
  • Deke - as in to psyche out someone, to deke them out.  I wouldn't use this in conversation, feels more like a hockey term to me or something I would have said as a kid and outgrown.
  • Pencil crayon - seriously?  No one else calls them pencil crayons?  Coloured pencils just sounds... backwards to me.
  • Flippin/friggin - hmm, I actually like freaking I suppose, but again, didn't think it was a Canadian substitution and I don't know that I'd write it all that often, very much a verbal substitution.
  • Giv'n'r - I associate this with my brother in law.  I just thought it was a boy thing, not a Canadian thing.
  • Housecoat -  I guess I might say bathrobe, nah, it's a housecoat.
  • Randy - As in frisky or horny.  I once chatted (I had a huge problem with chatting at one point) with someone named Randy.  His last name was Cummings.  I thought he was kidding.  He may have been, it was only online, but man I giggled at that mix of first and last names.  Wouldn't you?
  • Rippers = Strippers.  Mr. Lina uses that term more often than not, me less so.  Or he will say "the ballet" or "the dancing ladies" if he wants to be fake-sneaky. 
  • Had the biscuit - I can hear my mom saying bit the biscuit to say it's dead.
And Mr. Lina is sending me more pictures of lambs and sheep.  Sigh.  You'd be surprised how many pictures of lambs there are out there.  I know I am.  Of course, it's also augmented with the fact that about every 4th picture of lambs is actually a baby with something lamb or sheep related around it.

To preface the clip, SCTV was a Canadian sketch comedy show, produced by the CBC.  The US had two extra minutes of commercials, so the CBC asked them to create some Canadian content (generally referred to as Can-con here) to fill the gap.  The writers at SCTV thought this was silly.  It was being filmed in Canada, the vast majority of the writers and actors were Canadian, everything they did was Canadian.  They created a sarcastic skit pulling out every Canadian stereotype going.  This throw away skit (unscripted, just the two of them improving with a single camera man) ended up gaining enough popularity for a movie, Strange Brew.


  1. I had no idea that that's how Bob and Doug got started. Amazing! I don't think those slang words are Canadian at all. Except, maybe, for pencil crayon.

    1. It's amazing looking at the cast for SCTV, just how much talent they had in one room. Entertainment is so scattered now with so many touch points, I'm not sure how feasible it is for that to happen again.
      Pencil crayons was the one that really stood out to me.

  2. Pencil crayon is just wrong. At least when you say colored pencils nobody can argue about the pronunciation of "crayon." :-)
    I also have never heard "had the biscuit." However, being from Georgia, I shouldn't start in on anybody's figures of speech.

    1. I am so baffled that pencil crayon is not a common term. As I said, you don't know that no one else is using them until you ask.

    2. Wait, there's multiple ways to pronounce crayon?

  3. Actually, when you say "pencil crayon," I think of those thin crayons that have plastic twist-up dispensers. Like mechanical pencils, but they're crayons. Some teachers here really like them because the kids are less likely to grip too hard and break them. So entirely different product to me (I think Crayola calls them Twistables, if you wanna Google).

    I use slack/slacker, various versions of frig, frak, etc, and housecoat. However, bathrobe and housecoat are not interchangeable to me. A bathrobe is a wrap and tie garment, used for interim wear between bath and dressing or for adding extra warmth to pajamas. A housecoat has a closure in front (usually zip, sometimes buttons) and is worn for cleaning/cooking/lounging when you don't want to get your clothing messy. My grandmother wore housecoats and I associate them with that generation, although stores and some patterns still carry them. Hmm, now I think I could use a housecoat....

    Randy is still around in the U.S., although it's use in that sense is archaic and people my age or younger really don't talk that way.

    I have never seen SCTV but the comedy sketch shows always had so much talent. I loved In Living Color as a kid, and that's where Jim Carrey among others got his start. We don't really have anything like that now.

    1. How strange. I really didn't know that pencil crayon was Canadian. My Aussie friend sees the distinction of housecoat vs bath robe like you, he pointed to Sherlock Holmes books he's been reading as the source.

      I can't say I would use the word randy either, but I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one who knows of it.

      In addition to Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas, SCTV had Eugene Levy, Martin Short, John Candy, Katherine O'Hara and Andrea Martin (and others). It's just crazy. Don't forget that fly girl J-Lo, she was on In Living Color too. ;)

  4. I didn't know pencil crayon was a Canjun thing. Don't forget about poutine, butter tarts, jam busters (in Winnipeg), and here's a strange one, chesterfield and I think serviette. All Canadian terms as well.

    I think there is also some differences with the east and west coast, deke, giv'n'r, rippers, had the biscuit, are all terms I have never heard used here on the left side of the country.

    1. Apparently pencil crayon is a Canadian thing with two Americans utterly baffled, I asked an Aussie friend last night and he didn't know it either. I learned of jam busters marrying a Manitoban. What is a world without butter tarts and Nanaimo bars (although apparently Starbucks has spread this one around) like? I can see serviette being a borrowed French word.
      Mr. Lina and my Aussie friend knew deke but think of it soley for hockey, apparently the "Triple Deke" is a move used in the Mighty Ducks movie.

  5. I am completely lost. None of those words sound somewhat familiar? Haw I been living on the wrong planet my entire life?

    1. Oh I think it's us not you. I really didn't know that those weren't words known elsewhere, it's been enlightening.

  6. Pencil crayon's a Canadianism? Weird. "Coloured pencil" sounds so cumbersome and formal. I'd never heard "deke" or "rippers" (but then Saskatchewan hasn't got strippers, or rather the LB won't licence strip joints and all the non-licensed ones go out of business within six months, so it never came up much)

    Have you ever seen a book called "Canajan, Eh?"? It's a "Canadian" dictionary (I saw it in the early nineties, suspect it came out in the 80s). A lot of the terms were fairly eastern-specific, though. Like "Tranna" for Toronto.

    Love the hosers. :)

    1. There are a ton of words that I know are just regional things, like your bunnyhug or jam busters or products like Coffee Crisp and Smarties.

      Wha? No strippers? How did I miss this? I mean, I know some weird alcohol laws across Canada as they relate to outdoor advertising, but I didn't know there were not strippers. Or like Manitoba requires beer vendors to have rooms available to rent in case you manage to get hammered buying a case of beer. This is all bizarre to me.

      No, I haven't, I'll have to track it down. I felt like some of the words on that web site were a tad dated too.

      This is going back a few years, but Mondo Canuck (2002, should be used copies around) is a great book on Canadian pop culture by Geoff Pevere and Greig Diamond. Geoff actually came to my Canadian Studies class, really great speaker.


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