Thursday, August 5, 2010

Canadian Words Revisited

Four months back I wrote an article titled New Looks. The underlying theme of the article was focused around the idea that every small action counts when it comes to going green. At the post’s core was an interesting story about my misuse of the word “author”, which I was spelling “authour.” I had thought the word was spelt with an “our” like many other Canadian words (favour, behaviour, endeavour) and it wasn’t until my Literacy Professor pointed out my misuse of the word before I realized the error.

Recently, my post was referenced by Tyson Seburn at CourseTree.ca in his blog post We’re Word Snobs, but Maybe we Shouldn’t Be. Seburn’s post provides a brief and colourful critique of the many situations where we choose between a Canadian or foreign spelling.

The whole post summoned flashbacks of my Fourth-Year Canadian History classroom and stories of Guglielmo Marconi the inventor of the Radio. In the early 1900’s there weren’t too many Canadian Radio Stations. They would often only function a few hours out of the day at specific times. During the rest of the day the channels were often silent or off-air. In the 1920’s we began to see a change – Canadian's who were close to the American boarder began to pick up radio signals from our Southern Neighbours. This was the beginning of the Identity vs. Pop Culture debate in Canada. Canadians needed to figure out a way to keep the airwaves playing Canadian content so that citizens had something to remind them of their heritage. They feared that American popular music would “dumb us down.”

Almost 100 years later and the debate still continues. Today the CRTC (Canadian Radio & Television Telecommunications Commission) is still placing regulations on Canadian Broadcasters in an attempt to protect Canadian culture and content.

We can go on talking about how we use Radio and Television to protect/promote our Canadian Identity and if it is really worth protecting. Better yet, we could sit and talk about - what is Canadian Identity? But, we'll save that topic for another day.

After reading Tyson’s article I was asked to take part in a survey related to the What’s the Word: Research Project. During the process I was asked to choose between a series of words and select the one I thought was appropriate. (For Example, Sean asks his friend to do him a ____________. favour or favor).

The whole survey brought me back to the thought about American Culture taking over our lives. At the root of all communication is speech and that can be perceived in any given manner, but our written words can truly define us. Maybe there is something distinctly Canadian after all…

If you would like to take part in the research project you can follow the link here. It takes about five minutes to complete and every entrant is appreciated. If there is really a need to protect our Canadian Identity – why not start with our written word?

Should or shouldn't we be word snobs?

1 comment:

coursetree said...

For some reason, I don't seem to notice this tracking system you mentioned as I had no idea until now that you'd written this post about the research project--a big thank you, by the way!

Wordpress has a spot on its dashboard with regards to incoming links and such, but I guess it didn't notice this one.