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Ask Doctor English
Your ESL and English language learning specialist. Ask Dr. English whatever you like about the English language.

Friday, June 03, 2005

CANADIAN, EH ?

One of the challenges of learning English is that the language changes depending on the English-speaking country in which you are in. Whether you are in Canada, the United States, England, Australia, or any of the many other countries in which English is the primary language, you will find the language changes. Not only are there distinctions in vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation, but there are also many cultural differences which affect how we use the language.

In Canada, when you see someone that you know you usually say "Hi, how are you?" or "Hi, how’s it going?". You will notice that sometimes when Canadians say that to each other, they do not wait for a response to the question "How are you". They simply say it and then continue walking.

This is because often "How are you" is used as part of the greeting "Hi" and therefore the person is not really asking how you are. This is particularly common with people that you don’t know very well. If the person does wait for a reply, they are usually waiting for something positive, such as "Fine", "Good" or "Great". Most likely they are not expecting you to tell them in great detail about your illness or the bad day you have been having. Again, this is most common between acquaintances. Between close friends, the expression "How are you" may have a more genuine meaning.

If you would like more information on CANADIAN, EH?, please email Doctor English with your questions at drenglish@vec.ca.

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