Saturday, 6 December 2008

once more in Canadian

Welcome back, language barrier. It's been a while. I've missed you.

1. Apparently, North Americans don’t ‘reckon’. I ‘reckon’ things all the time. I ask people what they ‘reckon’. I did it the other day. And everyone fell about. Apparently, the only North Americans who ‘reckon’ things are people who might ‘reckon’ they’ll go outside and skin them a small amphibian from the swamp for breakfast before cracking open their first morning beer with their teeth, or something. Brits and Kiwis reckon things; Canadians Do Not.

2. The only correct response to ‘thank you’ is ‘you’re welcome.’ It is not ‘not at all.’ This is a very hard thing for me to learn. When I am on the phone to a library, either performing or having performed some useful service such as finding them a book, they say thank you, because library people are nice like that. And I say, “not at all.” It’s automatic. I have tried changing it to ‘you’re welcome’ and tripped over it. But they don’t get ‘not at all’. There’s always a suspicious pause at the other end of the line, during which time they are plainly Not Getting It. Then they uncertainly go, “um, okay then, so...never mind,” and hang up.

3 comments:

Karen said...

Yup, I reckon that's the way of it.

Amber said...

So. Funny.

Leslie said...

Replying to 'Thank you' with a humble 'Not at all' should not bother anyone. Perhaps you are speaking to people who have grown used to the far more common North American reply, 'Uh huh'. I was raised deep within the 'You're welcome' camp and so consider 'Uh huh' worse than no response at all. At least with silence you can pretend the oaf didn't hear you.

As for 'I reckon', sadly those of us who grew up watching the 'Beverly Hillbillies' will forevermore associate the phrase with cement ponds and roast possum. That's neither our fault nor yours.