Canadian English

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Canadian English



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Canadian slang

Canadian slang as a variation of substandard speech is obvious nowadays. The lexical constituent of Anglo-Canadian slang is very dissimilar. There can be singled out the following units:

Units that are common for American and Canadian Languages, North-Americanisms;

Units, that appeared and are used in USA, but that gradually get into Canadian language;

Units that appeared and are used in Canada, but can be met in American language;

Units that appeared and are used exceptionally in Canada.

1. North-Americanisms:

These units appeared in the slang in XIX-XX centuries. They are different in their origin but are gut assimilated by Canadian and American languages.

1.1. Units that were registered first in USA and then in Canada:

- Nouns denoting living beings:

buff (enthusiast) AE 1930; CdnE 1940; floozie (prostitute) AE 1935, CdnE 1940; ripstaker (a conceited person)AE, CdnE 1833

- Nouns denoting inanimate objects:

jitney (a cheap taxi) AE 1915, CdnE 1924; beanie (a freshman's cloth cap) AE 1945, CdnE 1946; dump (a pub, a bar) AE 1903, CdnE 1904.

- Nouns denoting process:

bend (outdoor party, feast) AE 1903, CdnE 1904; shellacking (defeat) AE 1919, CdnE 1938

- Nouns of material:

lightning (cheap whisky) AE 1858, CdnE 1959; weeno (wine).

- Collective Nouns:

bull (idle talk) AE 1915, CndE 1916; guff (nonsense, lies) AE 1888, CdnE 1890.

1.2. Units that were first registered in Canada and then in USA:

- Nouns denoting living beings:

boomer (seasonal worker) CndE 1910, AE 1926; flannel-mouth (smb who is fond of backbiting) CdnE 1910, AE 1912.

- Nouns denoting inanimate objects:

bug (a small automobile) CdnE 1919, AE 1920; jolt (a mouthful of alcohol drink) CdnE 1900, AE 1920.

- Nouns denoting process:

hush-hush (confidential talk) CdnE 1940, AE 1950; fakery(insincere behavior) CdnE 1912, AE 1925.

- Collective Nouns:

bushwa(h) (nonsense, rubbish) CdnE 1916, AE 1924.

It should be mentioned that the nouns with expressive meaning are easier borrowed from American into Canadian and vice versa:

gunsel (murderer) CdnE 1950, AE 1951; split (sharing of the profit) AE 1917, CdnE 1919.

2. Units that appeared and are used in USA, but that gradually get into Canadian language:

- Nouns denoting living beings:

eager-beaver (boarder) AE, the beginning of the XX cent; CdnE 1950; fink (unpleasant person) AE 1925; CdnE 1965.

- Nouns denoting inanimate objects:

Doodad (a thing for reminding about smth) AE 1900; CdnE 1931.

3. Units that appeared and are used in Canada, but can be met in American language:

These units were not well spread, because:

a) there were American equivalents for the Canadian words:

noodle, CdnE: nut, AE (head);

b) this word appeared in the language later, than its equivalent:

fink (strike-breaker, blackleg) AE, CdnE 1925.

In this part of lexis a great influence of American on Canadian language, but not vice versa, is evident. Canadian units are often of the regional nature, so they are twice called in question before getting into the American variant.

4. Units that appeared and are used exceptionally in Canada.

The common Canadian slang can be subdivided into two groups: the common slang that is described in the previous points and the professional slang of the following professions:

- railway mens slang: pig (locomotive), plug(a small train);

- musicians' slang: canary (a female singer), to blow(to play);

- military slang: Joe boy (a recruit) , moldy(torpedo);

- sport slang: rink-rat (a boy, cleaning the rink),arena rat(fan, supporter);

- criminal argot: pod (cigarette with narcotic), skokum house (prison).

So, we can say that Canadian slang is a very complicated system that unites chronologically different layers of the American and Canadian slang. And in the whole it is a new and quite original system that doesn't copy either American or British system. This system appeared due to the co-operation of all these systems and the national tendencies.

In conclusion we could mention with the statement of Walter Avis who wrote in his essay “Canadian English” which introduces the Gage dictionaries, that “unfortunately, a great deal of nonsense is taken for granted by many Canadians” when it comes to language issues. And into that category of nonsense we may add a notion that there is such a thing as “Canadian English”, and that this fiction has any value linguistically, pragmatically, socially, or politically.

Список литературы

Putiatina E, Bystrova P. English on Linguistics and crosscultural communication. Surgut, 2001, 334pp.

John Agleo. The myth of Canadian English. English Today 62, Volume 16, Number 2, April 2000, pp.3-9.

М.В. Бондаренко. Системные характеристики вокабуляра англоканадского сленга (на материале имен существительных).

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