The Eh Myth Busted

canadaThanks to Bob and Doug McKenzie, we Canadians have always been associated with the expression "eh?". Truth be told, I never say "eh" unless I'm intentionally saying it to fulfil the expectations of the stereotype. We're supposed to say it, so I'll say it for effect. I never say it as a natural part of speech.

A study by University of Toronto sociolinguist Sali Tagliamonte suggests "eh" is leaving Canadian language.

Tagliamonte and her team interviewed 165 native-born, English-speaking Torontonians of all ages to find out how local – and perhaps, by extension, Canadian – English is changing.

The interviews yielded a grand total of 2,272,392 word uses, of which the most common was "I," spoken 114,100 times, followed by "and" at 90,861. The word "like" ranked fifth, at 67,183.

"Eh," however, was used a scant 519 times, accounting for a piddly .02 per cent of the total.

Younger Canadians simply don't say "eh", and I'm guessing that's because they haven't seen Bob and Doug McKenzie and they don't realize they're supposed to. I know Bob and Doug, but do teenagers and those in their early 20s know them? Without Bob and Doug leading the way, it's no wonder we're losing our "eh".

As a result of this study, I'm going to sprinkle more "eh's" into conversations. I'm bringing the Canadian Eh back, eh?


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Comments (3)

Jill

I'm not too sure the best place to conduct such a study is in Toronto. I'll go out on a limb and make an assumption that "eh" is used more liberally in the east or west coast than in Toronto. When I was in grade 6-8, I lived in South America and attended an American School and I remember my brothers and I always being teased by the American students who assumed "Eh" was a part of our dialogue even tho' we did not use it often. This was before McKenzie brothers were well known.

April 15, 2007 / 18:58

Coach

Whenever meeting foreigners it’s never long before they bust me on my "eh". I use it a ton and love it. It’s the perfect little word to make sure we understand each other. At least we don't say knowhatimsayin, eh?

April 16, 2007 / 04:00

Annemarie

I'm w/ you Mike & Jill. I have been teased by American friends & am very aware of when I'm about to say it now & usually stop myself. I actually make a conscious effort not to, not that I said it a lot before. Just watch The Trailer Park Boys. But I agree, it's one of the things synonymous w/ Canadians, fortunately or unfortunately, whatever way you look @ it. A guy named Dan de Figueiredo was on Breakfast Television yesterday morning promoting his book called "Fakin' Eh! How to Pretend to Be a Canadian" http://www.dandefigueiredo.com/ click on "The Books".

April 18, 2007 / 09:27

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