CM . . .
. Volume XII Number 8 . . . . December 9, 2005
The next time someone compliments you on your fine “Molson Muscle,” should you feel flattered? The answer is likely “No.” According to Weird Canadian Words, the term is a way of describing a pot belly, beer belly or spare tire that has possibly been achieved through consuming too many cans or bottles of Molson Canadian.
Because of its short length, Weird Canadian Words is obviously not a comprehensive dictionary of Canadianisms, but the volume’s contents might sufficiently pique the curiosity of young readers that they will seek out one or more of the five titles listed in the concluding “Notes on Sources” and perhaps even go on to longer reference works. Arranged alphabetically from “Acadia and Acadian” to “Zipper,” the book contains 185 entries which range in length from a few lines to about a page. Each entry typically explains the meaning of the word plus its origins. The letter “S” gets the most entries, 25, while “J,” “N,” “Q,” “V,” “X,” “Y” & “Z” have but one each, and the letter “U” has no entries at all.
Some of the words or terms, such as “Bloody Caesar,” “Canadarm,” “Imax,” “Pablum,” “Trivial Pursuit” and “Wonderbra,” are simply the names of Canadian inventions. Others, including “Grey Cup,” “The Brier” or the “Memorial Cup,” are the names of Canadian sporting events. Canadians’ favourite winter game, hockey, is responsible for terms like “The Butterfly” and “Five-hole.” The names of foods, such as the “Nainaimo Bar,” “Peameal Bacon,” “Poutine” and “Beavertails,” account for some other words. Pieces of clothing, like “Stanfield’s” and “Tuque.” are connected to Canada. Ways of describing Canadian weather phenomena are found in such terms as “Alberta Clipper” and “Chinook.’ English corruptions of First Nations words led to words such as “Anorak,” “Cheechako” and “Pemmican” while English misspellings of French words resulted in such words as “Gopher” and “Lateer.” Newfoundland has contributed words like “Bangbelly,”and “Coady.”
As someone who has lived in Winnipeg for five decades, I was amazed to discover that I had never heard or used a word attributed to my home city.
Dave Jenkinson teaches courses in children’s and YA literature at the Faculty of Education, the University of Manitoba.
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