Linguistic professor and author Stefan Dollinger of Oak Bay is posting weekly trivia points on the etymology of uniquely Canadian terms and phrases. The UBC prof created an online dictionary, A Dictionary of Canadianisms on Historical Principles, that he draws from. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)

Linguistic professor and author Stefan Dollinger of Oak Bay is posting weekly trivia points on the etymology of uniquely Canadian terms and phrases. The UBC prof created an online dictionary, A Dictionary of Canadianisms on Historical Principles, that he draws from. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)

Follow Oak Bay prof for all-dressed, gong show list of Canadianisms

Linguistic researcher shares etymology of Canadian terms

An Oak Bay resident is reviving his weekly trivia posts to social media that is candy for Canadian wordsmiths.

For instance, if you knew the phrase “all dressed” applies as a flavour strictly to Canadian potato chips and not south of the border, good for you. But did you also know it’s a typical term for pizza in Quebec and other parts of Eastern Canada? Or that it is common to get all-dressed hotdogs in the United States?

These are trivial, but uniquely Canadian terms and variations that many take for granted, said Oak Bay linguistic professor Stefan Dollinger. The etymology of the Canadian words have been a focus of his studies.

READ MORE: Oak Bay researcher’s Canadian English dictionary goes to print

“Look at gong show, from the 1970s show,” Dollinger said.

Gong show is old and it’s had a semantic change. You can use it here in Canada to denote dysfunction.

“But it’s not common to call something a gong show in the States,” he said.

The University of British Columbia prof made the first 77 weekly entries, which he calls Canadian word of the week, throughout 2017 and 2018. He is now back at it, all from his home in Oak Bay, where he will also teach UBC courses (online) starting next month.

Got a toque at home? Of course you do. The word was borrowed from Canadian French ‘tuque’, and dates back to the 1860s using an ‘o’ instead of ‘u.’

READ ALSO: ‘Take off eh,’ the story behind Canada’s pet word

Dollinger also wrote a biography on the making of Canadian English called Creating Canadian English: The Professor, the Mountaineer, and a National Variety of English. But it’s his online resource, A Dictionary of Canadianisms on Historical Principles, that he uses for the weekly posts and is an online rabbit hole for the public.

He also does the Canadian Tuxedo, Boxing Week and American Thanksgiving which, oddly, but logically, is a Canadian thing.

Or how about ‘parkade.’

The City of Victoria has three of them, View, Yates and Broughton, all labelled as such.

“It’s another one that Americans also used, quite often in the 1950s, and then stopped,” Dollinger said

However, it’s remained prominent in South Africa, too.

“It originated in Canada and I don’t know what the connection is with South Africa,” Dollinger said. “There are many attestations of American use until 1950s [then parking lot became the majority term]. And it’s the majority term this side of Ontario.”

Another one is the ‘washroom’ versus ‘bathroom.’ “In Canada, the bathroom is at home. When you’re in public, 80 per cent of Canadians call it a washroom,” Dollinger said.

Remember ‘fuddle duddle?’ A fading memory now, but it was all the rage when Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau claimed he uttered fuddle duddle in lieu of what most allege he actually said, which was the F-word.

reporter@oakbaynews.com


 

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