• Kristan Cannon

Canadian Oxford - What Makes This Quirky & Unique Version of English Interesting.

Know me (and my writing) long enough and you will encounter a few quirks and terms I throw around and then look surprised when my friends south of the border stare at me in a mix of confusion and horror...


Or bemusement.


Not sure which.


1 - Centre or Center?


Centre, and while you might think it's related to our French & English bilingualism (plus a few Indigenous languages that are now thankfully starting to filter in as just as official as English & French) but it's actually linked to Latin and the word centrum. We share this quirk with Britain, Australia, and others throughout the Commonwealth.


2 - The Oxford Comma


As you can probably tell by the name of our 'standard' English as Canadian Oxford English, I think you know where we stand as a nation on the Oxford comma.


Yes, we use it. You will drag it out of our cold, and dead, hands.


3 - Yup, that's a "U" in Neighbour... and other words.


Read up a few paragraphs and you'll notice one of those other words ;)


This is where the Oxford part comes in, and where we share the same English as Britain.


4 - Cheque vs. Check


You aren't imagining that. We do indeed spell it as cheque, if you are referring to that piece of paper used to pay you for work done. Again, this is where it's not something we continue to use from British English and not French as one would assume.


5 - We pronounce Z as Zed.


This is less about written grammar and more a quirk you will hear in Canada.


6 - It's a Toque, not a Beanie or whatever else it might be (but we still like hearing other terms for it!)


The British and Americans call it a Beanie. We call it a toque. I think it's because of the French influence on our English.


I'm only scratching the surface here. There are other little quirks that will demarcate the differences between English south of the border and that of north of the border, and to make it even more fun, because so much of our English borrows from French our English is different again from Australian English and British English, which are also different from each other.


Honestly, my opinion on this is that it's great. It gives each of us that little spice that makes us... well... us. We aren't meant to be carbon copies of each other. Let's celebrate those differences and compare what makes us unique.


So, what did I miss?


What quirks are there that makes you unique?



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