Language in Canada, as in most countries, is taken for granted. Unfortunately, however, a great deal of nonsense is taken for granted by many Canadians. Some people, especially recent arrivals from the UK, refuse to accept the fact that the English spoken in Canada has any claim to recognition. Others, who themselves speak Canadian English, are satisfied with the view that British English is the only acceptable standard. To these people the argument that educated Canadians set their own standard of speech is either treasonable or ridiculous. Fortunately for us Canadians this is quickly changing.

Despite what many spell checking programs assume, Canadian English is neither American nor British. Indeed, it is a mixture of both forms, with some random additional colour. Canadian English is not static and the modern tendancy is a slow drift from British-style use to "Americanized" English.


Some examples of Canadian spellings:
  • Centre (not Center)
  • Colour (not Color)
  • Defence (not Defense)
  • Cheque (not Check)
  • Realize (not Realise)
  • Grey (not Gray)
  • Curb (not Kerb)
  • Doughnut (not donut)


Canadians also pronounce words in a British way, and differently than Americans do. American influence means this is not always the case. Here are some words which are nominally pronounced differently in Canada than in American English:
  • Schedule (pronounced with no hard "K" sound)
  • Lieutenant (pronounced lef-tenant)
  • The letter "Zed" (not "Zee")
  • House (not "hoose" or "howse")
  • Vase ("voz", not "vayse")
Many Americans think they can say the OU sound in "about" like a Canadian can. They can't. Honest, there is a difference, and it is acutely painful for Canadians to hear it mispronounced.

Specific Words

Canadian English uses certain words that are different from American English. For example,
  • Chesterfield (or couch)
  • Homo milk (homogenized milk)
  • Loonie (a dollar coin)
  • Riding (a political district)
  • Pop (versus soda, although some states say "pop" too)
  • Toque (a hat)
  • Serviette (not napkin)
See also: Canadian Slang.

(Please /msg me with any suggestions or additions)
The dialects of Canadian Engish can be further subdivided to represent a few cultural differences within the geography of the country.

-Newfie- Only makes sense when you're blindly drunk and kissing codfish
-Maritime- Expressions and sounds are similar to Irish
-Quebecois - Words are often English and French contractions. Quebecois is nothing like Parisian French.
-Ontarian- Consists primarily of slang, poor grammar and the word "eh".
-Prairie- Words vary to describe strange weather patterns. (See Chinook)
-Pacific/Mountain-Tone is much more relaxed and infused with words that reflect the quantity and quality of growing environments within the province.

The following is a list of Canadian expressions that are not common in the U.S., including words that have different meanings in Canada and the U.S.:

back bacon: Canadian bacon
boomie: baby boomer
cabbagetown: urban slum
chesterbed: convertible sofa
chippy: irritable
chuck: water
dog's breakfast: hodgepodge
fuddle-duddle: depart
goaler: goalie (ice hockey)
loonie (or loony): $1 coin
moosemilk: moonshine
returned man: veteran of a foreign war
salt chuck: ocean
silly-sider: left-hander
twoonie (or toonie): $2 coin
wastelot: unkempt vacant lot

Please feel free to add any words or expressions that I failed to include in this list.

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