Monday, January 30, 2006
Working with Americans, PT 1
Well, I have day one of my new job under my belt and I am feeling good tonight. It was a pretty laid back day as I met my new boss at his hotel and we went over binder after binder of flow charts, statistics, lists and facts. I had forgotten how much there is to try and absorb in the earlier days of training. I have a really great boss and we get along quite well, which I'm sure we can all appreciate as a godsend. We share the same sarcastic sense of humour so zingers had been going back and forth all day. It's nice to work with someone who is corporate but not stuffy.

We have been enjoying sharing views of the world from each other's perspectives and observing the differences between his side of the border (American) and my side of the border (Canadian). Remarkably he has said nothing of my accent and though I have said nothing of his (he's from Michigan) I was acutely aware of the way he pronounces his "a". (I have tried hard to think of a way to type it out so that you would know what I mean but I can't think how. you'll just have to use your imagination) Aside from the "a" pronunciation being different I notice no other real accent. He has some terrible grammar, but far be it for me to correct my boss.

One thing I have noticed that Americans seem to fail to grasp is the proper use of the word "eh". You know, that stereotypical word Canadians are accused of using constantly. Let me once again explain how eh is used:

Eh turns a statement, comment or observation into a question, thereby engaging another person, perhaps for the purpose of getting his or her opinion, or sometimes in order to start a conversation. Example:

"Wow, the weather is unseasonably warm these days"
See? That's just an observation spoken outloud. Doesn't do much for sparking a conversation. But when you put eh at the end, NOW you have a question!

"Wow, the weather is unseasonably warm, eh??"
And now the door is wide open for another person to add his or her two cents:
"Yeah, I haven't seen a winter this warm since '98!"

Voila! you now have a conversation thanks to eh.

That being said (and having explained it like that) my boss still can't get the hang of when to use it. He is beginning to recognize after he uses it incorrectly that it wasn't timed right, but can't seem to see when he *should* use it. For instance, today he said "That's pretty impressive, isn't it eh?" to which he immediately asked how he was doing and if he used eh correctly (since he has been trying desperately to get it right). Before I could say no, he didn't, he caught himself and said "No wait... that was a double question, that wasn't right". hahaha.. he's learning!

Anyway, beyond a few peculiar pronunciations of towns (please tell me how he got "burry" out of "Barrie") there wasn't much to report on the differences between my American counterpart and myself.... yet! Next week I am off to Buffalo and Rochester, New York. After that... Tampa Florida! I think I will have plenty of stories to tell in the coming weeks..