How to speak Canadian: Tips on Canadian English slang

Canadian Spectator at London Olympic 2012
So you’re new to Canada eh?

Well welcome to the land of toques, double-doubles and snowbirds. With this handy guide to Canadian slang you will learn how to speak just like a real Canuck (that’s a person from Canada) in no time.

1.What Does “Eh” Mean?

First thing you might be wondering is what in the world does “eh” mean and why are Canadians saying it all the time.

Eh is an interjection that has a similar meaning to “Excuse me,” “Please repeat that”.

For example, if you ask someone what time it is, but you don’t hear the response (because maybe there is a noisy snow blower passing by) you might say “Eh?” The listener should then understand that you need them to repeat what they said (they may even turn off their snow blower 🙂 ). Here is an example of how it is used:
Good Wife

-Excuse me, do you know what time it is?

-Yes, it is *snow blower sounds*.

-Eh?

– I’m sorry, let me turn this snow blower off. It’s 7:30 pm.

– Thank you!

 

Eh is also used as a question tag to reinforce the listener’s interest or agreement. By adding Eh at the end of a sentence, declarative statements become questions.

For example, if we add Eh after the weather is nice out, it now means the weather is nice out, don’t you agree?
Pretty easy, Eh?

It is like a way of trying to keep the listener engaged. Once you understand the way Eh is used you are half way there to understanding Canadian English, as this is probably the most commonly used Canadian slang word.

2. What  Does “Toque” Mean?

Many other Canadian slang words can be heard during the winter months. Unlike the U.S.A., where people wear winter hats, here in Canada you may notice that people refer to these as “toques” (rhymes with dukes). Toques are our winter hats.

3. What Does “Snowbird” Mean?

Dead men tell no tales

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another word you are unlikely to hear anywhere else but Canada is snowbird.
A Snowbird is what we call a Canadian who runs away to a warmer city for the cold winter months (usually it is an older Canadian and usually they run away to Florida). Here is an example of how these words can be used:

– Hey Kevin, how come your father doesn’t have any winter clothes? No gloves, toques, or anything!
– My dad’s a snowbird, he flies to Florida in November every year!

4. Get a Double-Double for Loonies or Toonies at Timmies

Finally, if you really want to sound like a Canadian and you love coffee, it might do you some good to know how to order a double-double. This is a coffee with two packets of milk/cream and two packets of sugar. Stand inside any Timmies (that’s slang for Tim Hortons) and you are bound to hear people using this expression. If you have a couple of loonies (one dollar coins) or toonies (two dollar coins) you might even want to get one for yourself.

Joshua Mover

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