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Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Only in Canada, eh?

Izzy Mo asked me a series of questions a few weeks ago, and I never got around to answering them. I promised her I would respond to one question each day until I've completed them all. Here's question #5.

5) Is it true you guys end your sentences with the phase, “ey”? Such as, “There’s lots of snow out there, ey?” (Just kidding)

No, we do not end our sentences with “ey” because we think “eh” sounds so much more Canadian. Spelled “eh” but pronounced “ey”. Only in Canada, eh?

So what does “eh” mean? I’m not really sure. I think it functions as a “you know?” or “what do you mean?” or “wouldn’t you agree?” It is generally voiced with the raised intonation that one commonly employs when asking a question. But “eh” doesn’t always function in the interrogative sense. It may be used to elicit agreement, as in, “what great weather, eh?” It can be used in the narrative sense: “It’s snowing, eh, and we won’t be able to shovel it all today.” It may just be used to end a sentence. Perhaps the best way to understand it is by thinking of the more American “huh” and its functions. “Eh” is really quite similar.

It is often thought that “eh” is unique to Canada. That - along with the notion that Canadians live in igloos and have moose for pets and sled dogs for transportation – is sadly incorrect. Though “eh” may be more commonly used in Canada, it is found in the works of non-Canadian writers as well, which indicates that it is not as unique as one might presume.

Read the answer to question #4 here.


  • At 4/20/2005 03:48:00 p.m., Blogger Desiree said…

    You have it right.. we use 'eh to suggest that we are looking for agreement to the statement we just made. (though we don't always expect a verbal answer to affirm).

    'huh' is used similarily by Americans but has broadened to be used to suggest total lack of knowing or attention - my kids use that word a heck of a lot!

  • At 4/20/2005 10:48:00 p.m., Blogger izzymo said…

    Jazak Allah Khairn for participating in the interview, sister! ;)

  • At 4/22/2005 01:27:00 a.m., Blogger cncz said…

    my best friend is from Newfoundland and you would not believe how often she has to tell people that she never had to fish for food. I also cannot say Eh convincingly, which is okay because no one can really fake a southern accent either.


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