speaking of differences between my old and new homes, i was amused to find this post in my early archives. i hadn't even been married for a year yet and was, at the time, shocked to find that there still were differences in the american language that i hadn't found out about yet. oh, if only i knew the discoveries that were to continue for years down the road! just the other day, while telling josh the one last thing i wanted for christmas, i mistakenly referred to it as a "housecoat". josh, who was reading the paper at the time didn't even look up from the article he was reading; he just said, " i have no idea what that is." i'm used to this happening from time to time, so i searched my brain for a translation and the only word that came to mind was "bathrobe". sure enough, that was the magic word that made sense to him. i had to clarify that i wanted a fluffy bathrobe, though. in my mind, bathrobes are those terrycloth type things you wear after a bath or at a spa. a housecoat, on the other hand, is something warm and cozy that you put on over your pajamas on christmas morning.
along with learning new words for things, i also have been corrected many times by mispronouncing certain words. the funniest ones i can remember are "jujubes" and "decal" (down here they say "dee-CAL", which always makes me giggle). then there's also "asphalt", "southern", "process", "again","shone", "diesel", and, of course the very obvious "about".
and while we're on this whole topic of differences, may i dare to address the differences in etiquette? keep in mind that i know i have a lot of american readers and i am definitely NOT trying to make it sound like canadian manners are superior. i'm generalizing here when i say "american" because i've only known this small corner of america so intimately. there may be other places in the unites states which say and act quite differently.
okay, so the first thing that i still can't quite get used to is the whole shoes in the house scenario. i don't understand the reasoning (besides laziness) for wearing one's shoes in a carpeted home, but here it is done in nearly every home without a second thought. its always fun when i have canadian visitors staying over because i get a kick out of the little row of shoes that they leave near the door.
the other one that i hope i never grow accustomed to is the use of the word "huh?" instead of "pardon me?" kids often ask "what?" if they want something repeated and i've noticed that if i say "pardon me?" to most children here, they have no clue what language i'm speaking!
the last sort of etiquette-type difference that shocks me the most is the lack of knife usage while eating! i think that people here mainly use a butter knife for buttering bread and a steak knife for cutting steak. other than that, its forks or fingers (usually both). we were invited to a neighbor's thanksgiving dinner last week and the table was set with ONLY forks! i still have no idea how to eat with only a fork, its a special feat that i have yet to accomplish. i sort of looked around to see others sawing away at their turkey with the side of their forks and scooping the last bit of mashed potatoes onto their forks with their fingers. when nobody was looking, i stole the butter knife that was resting on the butter tray and used it for the remainder of my meal.
i must add that, however proper and tidy canadians seem to be, there are two things that americans win at hands down: friendliness and food. i've heard americans say that people in canada are oh-so friendly, but i've got to say that i've found it the other way around. perhaps its because i moved to a small town which definitely has its share of small town charm, where the people are warm and welcoming. the food, well i tell you i don't know what i was eating before i discovered things like carne asada and red beans & rice and jambalaya and cornbread and in-n-out burger and the lettuce wraps at pf changs! okay, so there sure are things i miss about food in canada, but the variety here is really spectacular and i can tell you right now that you haven't even tasted real mexican food until you've had it this close to the border.
and so, when i found out that the word "housecoat" isn't used here, i subtracted it from my vocabulary just as i've done with countless other words. i've traded in pop for soda, buns for rolls, wieners for hot dogs, chocolate bars for candy bars, celcius for fahrenheit, postal code for zip code, zed for zee, garburator for garbage disposal, cutlery for silverware, icing for frosting, icing sugar for powdered sugar, summer holidays for summer vacation, serviettes for napkins, toques for beanies, timbits for donut holes, chinook for santa ana, pablum for rice cereal, eaves troughs for gutters, homo milk for whole milk, brown bread for whole wheat bread, soother for pacifier, runners for tennis shoes, and washroom for bathroom. (and i'm sure i missed a whole bunch, not to mention the irreplacable words like eh and loonie) but the thing that i love the most about changing bits of my language is the ability i have to change it all right back within days of stepping foot on canadian soil. i just can't seem to manage the canadian "about" any longer. :)