Monday 15 May 2023

CANADIANA, part #2

This post is a continuation of a collection of stuff that we shared in May 2021, dealing with Canadian history, places, concepts and habits. 

previous posted poems (part#1) 
Canadian spelling
speech borrowings
Canadian moose
Canadian weather
Torontonian / Buffalonian
compassionate use
overwintering waterfowl
seniors' hockey

Kim Jong Un's visit
Thanksgiving, Canadian
Haida Gwaii
Prairie home
Canadian raising (linguistics)

Authors' Note:  There is no satisfactory explanation for the similarity of the words encumber and cucumber.

   Kim Jong Un, third successive member of his family's ruling dynasty, became leader of North Korea in 2011. He has since garnered world attention by his blustering role in his country's programs to develop missiles and nuclear weapons; the latter are widely known informally as nukes.

   In the northern Canadian territories (Northwest Territory, Nunavut and the Yukon), the soil is poor in organic components and prone to salinity and permafrost. Cucumbers, known informally as cukes, must be imported into the Yukon from crops grown further south. The reader may well agree that these territories should remain nuke-free as well as cuke-free.

Authors' Note:

coyote: wolf-like wild dog,  with range recently extended into southern parts of Canada, and into Carolina coastal communities; a member of the canid family, as are dogs and wolves

cuanto: Spanish for 'how much?’

Pierre (PEER): town named by French explorers, capital of the U.S. state of  South Dakota, located due west of Toronto (2,100 km or 1,330 miles by highway).
  In the United States, nicknames (official or unofficial) for individual states are important for aspects such as vehicle licensing plaques, sports team designation and political bloviation. Geographic features and indigenous plants and animals may be so used, as in South Dakota, 'the coyote state’, and South Carolina, 'the palmetto state’.

Authors' Note: 

Acadia (uh-KAY-dee-yuh, as here, or uh-KAY-dyuh) or  l'Acadie: (French), name given in colonial times to the region corresponding to today's Atlantic Canada (the Maritime provinces)

tofurkey: a vegetarian substitute for turkey made from tofu

Action de grâce (ak-syon-duh-GRAS): literally action of grace; name derived from continental France for a harvest festival

habitants: French colonial settlers, a term honored in the title of Montreal's professional hockey team

   Thanksgiving Day, or Action de grâce, is a statutory holiday in the majority of Canadian provinces and territories, observed on the second Monday of October.


Authors' Note:

snowbird: a Canadian retiree seeking a warmer venue to spend the wintry months

  The Queen Charlotte Islands are a Canadian archipelago situated between 
the northwestern tip of Vancouver Island and the Alaska Panhandle, with landmass one-third that of the Hawaiian Islands (the latter located considerably further south). They had been the heartland of the aboriginal Haida people, who numbered thirty thousand at the time of first contact with European explorers in the eighteenth century. Their territory has a unique environment based on moderate temperatures and heavy rainfall. The province of British Columbia renamed the islands Haida Gwaii (HIE-duh GWIE[-ee], 'islands of the people') in 2010.

Authors' Note: Accent is a word written similarly, but spoken very differently in French and English. Joual (ZHWAHL) is the name for the accent, grammar and even spelling used naturally by many speakers in the Canadian province of Quebec; this dialect had evolved over several centuries separately from the language spoken in France. In schools, businesses and media in Quebec and other francophone areas of Canada, 'québécois' (kay-bay-KWA), more standard French, with a local inflection and local vocabulary, now predominates. In Canadian English and French, residents of the province are known as Quebeckers or Québécois respectively.

Authors' Note: In its evolution from poem to unofficial anthem, the iconic American song "Home on the Range" was known for a time as "Western Home". The lyrics evoke the wilderness surrounding settlements on the "High Plains" in the old west, but do not mention the construction techniques for homebuilding. With little timber available to build cabins in some areas, thick prairie grass could be used as a covering for dwellings, even allowing the cutting of standard door and window openings.

   In Canada, the geographically similar area bordering the American plains has been known almost exclusively as the Prairies. The author imagines that living in a sod hut on either side of the border would be a more inviting prospect for settlers once the herds of buffalo had been thinned out by overhunting (an environmental desecration that occurred in the latter part of the nineteenth century).

    Readers are reminded that they can, if so desired, sing the poem's lyrics to the tune of  "Home on the Range", and on our daily blog you can find suggestions for doing so HERE

For further reading; 1)


 Alberta, 1908
web-photo: Glenbow Archives

Authors' Note: Spokesperson "Miki" is a Canadian woman of Japanese extraction who is a "Mountie", common moniker for a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, a name deriving from the service's early days. Horses now play only a minor role in the RCMP's primary goal, the enforcement of federal criminal law; they are still used for crowd-control maneuvers, and in public spectacles, including the well-reputed "Musical Ride". Since 1966, however, horseback riding is no longer a mandatory skill required in the training of new officers. 
  Under contract, the RCMP also provides policing service to eight of Canada's ten provinces (Ontario and Quebec being the exceptions), the three Canadian northern territories, and 600 indigenous communities. Under its purview are towns such as Whitehorse, Yukon, and Hay River, Northwest Territories. 


Authors' Note: This is a mostly true story.
The Canadian internist in question had moved south to undertake a fellowship at an American medical school. As an introduction to potential staff mentors, he was asked to prepare a lecture on aspects of gout.
The transcriptionist, a southern woman, was victimized by her unfamiliarity with "Canadian raising", a speech variation altering and shortening the sounds of vowels in words like houserice and out; this pattern affects the speech of many speakers in the northern US, as well as in Canada.  

To view more verses dealing with Canadiana, check out this later post (part #3) by clicking HERE.

To resume daily titillations on our related blog 'Daily Illustrated Nonsense', click HERE. Once you arrive, you can select your time frame of interest from the calendar-based listings in the righthand margin, and check the daily offerings for any month in the years 2020 to the present. (As of September 2023, there are over 1200 unique entries available on the Daily blog, and most of these are also presented here on 'Edifying Nonsense' in topic-based collections.) The 'Daily' format has the advantage of including some videos and other material that are not shown here on this topic-based blog.

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