There are many things that link Canada and the United Kingdom. Unfortunately, language isn’t one of them.
I know what you’re thinking: But Kate, both countries have English as an official language! And you’re right.
Except you couldn’t be more wrong.
Although the two countries share a language, there are more differences than there are similarities, especially here in Yorkshire. Over the past few months, I’ve picked up quite a few keys words and phrases that have helped me fit in with the locals.
Here’s my intro to a Yorkshire–Canadian dictionary:
In Yorkshire pants actually refers to what is worn under your trousers (or pants, if you’re Canadian), you know, underwear. This translation can cause a lot of awkward conversations (and I would know, I’ve had one too many) where you’re actually talking about your pants/trousers and someone things you’re divulging intimate details about your undergarments.
Tea isn’t just a delightful afternoon beverage. No, in Yorkshire, the term also refers to what we in Canada call dinner or supper. It’s typically thought of as a posh way to refer to that last meal of the day, and despite hearing it over and over for six months, it will never cease to confuse me.
Alternatively, when a Yorkie (yes, this is the actual term for someone from Yorkshire) says dinner they often meal lunch. Talk about confusing!
Yorkshire: You alright?
Canadian: How are you?
Almost every conversation with a Yorkie will start with them asking: “You alright?” The first few times this happened to me, I immediately thought I looked upset or something and my response was a little too defensive: Yes, I’m fine, why!? Turns out, this is just how you ask someone how they’re doing in the North. After eight months and however many conversations, I still don’t really know how I’m supposed to answer (usually I just mumble quietly before turning the conversation back to them), and I still get caught off guard every now and again.
Canadian: A sandwich, usually on a bun
Butty’s are Yorkshire speak for a sandwich, usually a sandwich involving just one ingredient – be it bacon, sausage or chips (yes, french fries) – with no sauce. I will admit, they aren’t the most appetising (c’mon, throw on a little lettuce or miracle whip) but people seem to love them. This jury’s out, only because I haven’t been hungover enough to try one.
This is by far my favourite Yorkshire sayings and one I just haven’t been able to incorporate into my daily speak, despite many attempts. It always sounds like such a pleasant and warm way to thank someone, and it always makes me smile.
When a Yorkshireman or woman refers to their purse, they aren’t talking about the latest it bag they have slung over their shoulder. No, this is their wallet, their money holder, their pocket book. It can be wildly confusing if you’re not paying enough attention.
Crisps are chips, chips are french fries, and curly fries are just curly fries, to keep you on your toes when you’re reading menus. There are times where I still am not 100% sure what I’ve ordered.
Pudding is a term used to refer to all desserts, not just the gelatinous dish from jello that we all know and love. No, pudding is the term Yorkies use to describe those delicious treats (sweet or savoury) that we eat post-dinner or tea.
But, that’s not all. Pudding is also a term used to describe the Yorkshire pudding: a savoury, delicious bread-type creation that you slather in gravy and sink your teeth into during your Sunday roast.
This time I am referring to the drink and not the meal. When a Yorkie asks if you’d like a brew, they’re really asking if you’d like a cup of Yorkshire Gold Tea – and no other variety! Everyone takes their brew slightly differently, and they all take it very seriously – how long the bag steeps, and how much milk to add are topics of conversation that come up in every office at least once a week.
So there you have it, a start to the Yorkshire to Canadian dictionary. This is just a taster of the Yorkie vernacular I’ve picked up these last few months because for a place as unique as Yorkshire, you know they’ve got their own unique language to match.
Are you an expat? What are some of the common turns of phrase you’ve adopted/adapted to in your new hometown?
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