How ya doin? Every day conversations

How to get familiar with the language that Canadians really use day-to-day? In this series "Canadian English: Quirky, eh?", we take listeners on a romp across Canada making small talk, recognizing signature foods, and navigating head-scratching grammar rules and colloquial expressions. We’ll have you sounding like a Canadian in no time!

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Read the script (glossary at the end)

How ya doin?

Hello! Bonjour! Oi! Welcome, and thanks for tuning in to a new episode of our series Canadian English: Quirky, eh?  Let´s poke some fun – and hopefully a lit bit of learning along the way – about some of the quirkier aspects of the English language. In particular, Canadian English.

Last time, we talked about using the topic of weather as a conversation ice-breaker. And in Canada, there’s lots of ice to be broken! My name is Lawrence, but my friends call me Larry, and today we’re going to move on to the next logical phases of everyday conversations: your health and your news.

Canadians are well known for being polite. And every polite conversation begins with asking each other about their wellbeing. From a complete stranger at the bus stop to your boss in a business meeting. From a restaurant server to a telephone salesperson… you can count on being asked about your health.

Now, many exchanges may go like this: 

How are you”? “I’m fine, thanks. How are you?” “I’m fine also, thanks.” Now, down to business…

That’s just going through the motions of courtesy. It’s like saying “I’m asking you because I know I should, but I don’t really care.” These are definitely not words that will inspire more dialogue. But, to be frank, in some situations more dialogue is not the goal. Still, sometimes I wonder what would happen if, instead of “I’m fine”, I responded with “I’m high as a kite and couldn’t be any giddier!” Would they even notice?

Anyway, as a social convention, people of all languages use similar question-and-answer formulas. Some translate well, some do not. In Canadian English,  you’ll hear many different ways to ask you how you are: 

How are you? How ya doin? How’s it going? How’s things? How are you keeping? How’ve you been?  

To which you can respond: 

  • I’m fine, thanks. Yourself? Or
  • I can’t complain. Or
  • Doing great! How about you? Or
  • Couldn’t be better! Or
  • Comme ci, comme ça. (That’s French for “so, so” but is commonly used by English speakers).

If you are not faring well and you want to talk about it, try:

  • I’m sick as a dog. Or
  • I’ve had better days.

In a similar vein, it’s not unusual to replace the health question with the news question. Again, this is common in many languages: E aí, novidades? Quoi de neuf? ¿Que tal? Some of the English equivalents you will hear in Canada are:

What’s up? What’s happening? What’s new? What’s the scoop? What’s shaking?

  • Not much, you?
  • Nothing new.
  • Same old, same old.
  • Not a thing.
  • I just got a new puppy!

You can get creative in your answers to set the stage for more conversation that will help build relationships in your new environment. I hope I’ve managed to inch you just a bit towards that goal with today’s tips. Don’t forget to tune in to our next episode; we’ll have you sounding like a Canadian in no time!

We hope you enjoyed  today´s  episode. Please take a moment to give us your feedback and like us with the big fans up. Fill free to play it again and share it with friends and family.

You have been listening to Canadian English, Quirky, eh? The podcast series produced by Brazilian Wave Canada. This project was made possible through the generous support of the Canadian Periodical Fund. If you want to subscribe to the series and have access to the exclusive episodes, please sign in at waveplus.ca.

Until then,

Catch you later!                                                                         

Adieu!

Tchau!

Stay healthy!

Glossary

Scoop: (informal) a piece of news published by a newspaper or broadcast by a television or radio station in advance of its rivals. (https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/scoop)

Giddy: feeling silly, happy, and excited and showing this in your behaviour. (https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/giddy?q=giddier)

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Podcast – Canadian English: Quirky, eh?

Produced by BRZ Group Inc., Canada, 2021

  • Director: Christian Pedersen
  • Production Coordinator: Ana Carolina Botelho
  • Scriptwriter: Lauri Richardson
  • Voices: Eric Major and Lauri Richardson
  • Vignettes: Robson DJ Estudio 
  • Website Production & Marketing: Creative Team
  • Project Management: Teresa Botelho