What they say/What they mean

There are several words and phrases that they use differently up here.  Here are a few that I’ve come across.

Washroom = Bathroom

My favorite encounter with this was when a young girl noticed that my dog had to pee.  She said sweetly, “I think he needs to use the washroom.”  I laughed as I thought of my little dog trying to reach a toilet or a sink.  Then I thought of us telling one another that dogs need to “go to the bathroom.”  It’s just as ridiculous, but you never really think of it that way.

Riding = District (or something like that)

It’s time for elections here in Ontario as well as in the US, but here they are voting to choose the mayor of Toronto and several MPs (members of Parliament) who represent a riding, like a district.  I heard them use this word a lot on the radio not knowing what the heck they were talking about.  They’d talk about an MP going back to his or her riding, and I thought they were saying “writing,” wondering how much writing MP’s had to do for their jobs!

12/10/2010 = 10/12/2010

This is really confusing.  A lot of Canadians – but not all of them – write the date in this order: day, month and year.  Others write it the way we do in America: month, day and year.  It’s kind of like the metric system here.  They use it sometimes and not other times, which I think only makes it more difficult to communicate.

post = mail

For this one, they’re just like the Brits.  I actually like sending stuff by post.  It sounds so sophisticated.


Primary = Elementary
Secondary = High School

This one makes sense, and sometimes in the States we’ll say the same thing. But here’s what baffles me about this one.  They have junior highs.  How can you have a junior of something if you don’t have the senior?

Grade X = Xth Grade

Folks up here talk about Grade 9, Grade 10, etc.  It means pretty much the same as our 9th Grade, 19th Grade, etc, but if you say it our way, everyone knows you’re American.

College ≠ University (or does it?)

Actually, my husband and I still haven’t figured this one out.  A college is not a university.  It can be part of a university or stand alone as a separate institution.  But some schools are both?  They have titles like “NAME University College.”  So which are you?  Now I’m just confused.

There are others, I know, but that’s all I can think of for now, as it’s getting late and I need to turn in.  Goodnight!

About iammonicasue

I'm just gal who was born and raised in So Cal, who has lived my whole life in California... until now. I moved to Toronto in August 2010 and this is my blog about the differences I'm discovering between the home I came from and the home I'm getting to know.
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8 Responses to What they say/What they mean

  1. Carolann Duffin says:

    Mon, I’m from Chicago & they say washroom there. My mom still says that. We call it “pop” instead of soda too 🙂 I still call it pop.

  2. Doug says:

    This is something that’s in transition here as well. It used to be that there was a distinction where basically a college was small and a university is big. A university might be made up of colleges, more or less Oxford style. But in some countries, a college has 2 year degrees and a university has 4 year degrees. Canada seems to use a mix of the two systems, and I seem to recall that in Quebec the system works differently than elsewhere.

    The reason why it’s in transition here is that some colleges that want to attract foreign students (who pay full rate) want their name to be university so it’s clear that they offer BS/BA degrees. So a lot of colleges are changing their names. It’s actually becoming something of a joke in academia that these little places are named such and such university.

  3. Kris Kahle says:

    I’m still laughing at 19th grade. I never made it that far… I don’t think.

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