Forgive my long absence. Last week was spent building up a store of Good Words so that my wife and I could enjoy a second honeymoon in the same Canadian village in which we spent our first one 47 years ago: Gananoque.
The first linguistic note about this experience has to do with the pronunciation of this town. Either no one we talked to on our first visit mentioned the name of their town or we forgot it for we simply assigned it the Frenglish pronunciation of [gæ-nê-nahk]. We learned, however, the second time around, that it is pronounced [gæ-nê-nah-kwe] by the denizens. So it was a learning experience.
Driving the 330 miles up from Lewisburg, PA to Ganonoque, I thought a bit about the term “family restaurant” as we passed them along the way. The meaning of this phrase has changed over the past century. It originally referred to a restaurant run by a family. In the US today it refers to a restaurant that serves bland food, presumably that may be consumed by everyone in a family, including children (served by fully clothed waitresses). “Family restaurant”, then, today too often refers to a baby-food restaurant rather than a restaurant in which the owners take especial pride. (There should be a story there but I’m not getting it.)
Other than these two items, and the ubiquitous, “Eh!” uttered between every fifth and sixth word above the border, nothing in the speech of Canadians caught my attention. “Canadian raising”, the pronunciation of [ou] as [o], in words like house (hoe-ss) and [ai] as [êi] in words like bike (buh-ik) are old hat, a holdover from the Irish dialects spoken in centuries past. You even find traces of this along the East Coast of the US.
Anyway, I am back and have a few ideas for this week and next.
(We had a wonderful time, by the way. The weather was beautiful, our innkeepers were excellent and the food was delicious. We took some of our pictures from the first visit there in 1960 to help us remember and figure the changes that have taken place over the decades.)