adventures in the far east — of canada!

My Basilica pics, and Sunday: I’ve never felt so helpless (plus local lingo!)

In accent, food, lingo, st. john's on June 22, 2009 at 3:03 am

*As in my brother’s pics…I absolutely adore the stain glass figures in this style. The people have such a look to them…they don’t look overly decorated (like the fanciest stained glass windows lining the top of the Basilica), but they remind me of the work of confident illustrators, as they feature well-applied exaggeration of form and a cleanliness of line.

After the gym I mentioned before, this is really really the end of my Saturday, now! Actually wait–when I got home from the gym, I was surprised to be greeted by Ruth. Ruth is the lady who actually owns the house, who is only there periodically, as she works mostly in Halifax, and was vacationing in BC; she wasn’t due back for another 2 weeks at least. Due to a mix-up on her part with flight tickets, she was in St. John’s for a night, and back off to Halifax the next morning.

Anyway, another lovely lady! I offered to cook something for her as she was so tired off the flight so recently and I was about to start cooking my own dinner, and there was a bit of confusion back and forth: she hadn’t checked their (Karen’s and hers and Tracy’s) fridge to see what was there yet for me to prepare, but I was talking about stuff from my own stash. It was no big deal, because I planned to grocery shop Sunday anyway. Realizing the charity, she told me only something I didn’t have to take long to prepare–so the last of my pasta it was! I love to share, and particularly to feed people just because with no strings attached. After bringing the sauce back up to a boil, I quickly served it while I made my own meal, a lovely piece of steak I set to marinate earlier in the day. She loved it, and we had a lively chat. 🙂

Alright, Sunday for reals now–what an ordeal…

Walked to Dominion (this region’s Superstore; elsewhere in Canada, it is also Loblaw’s), 20 minutes away. Made a list (checked it twice), brought 4 cloth bags, it was a nice day again.

Initial confusion: shopping carts. This Dominion had a second floor, and you got your cart on the bottom. There were escalators up, but surely you can’t put the cart on the escalator!

Introducing the cartveyor. I kid you not; I did not understand what that contraption was, so I was confused. The little sign crossed out the cart and people, but I realized later it meant, “Do not ride with the cart up, just let the cart go by itself.” It was so…weird. You roll your empty cart onto the cartveyor (yes, it was called that), and then you take the people escalator up right beside it! I looked for an elevator first (fruitless), because that’s the only reference point I had…

Anyway, got the cart up eventually with me, and found out that I unknowingly came to Dominion on a No Tax promotion! Newfoundland has something called an HST–Harmonized Sales Tax. That’s fancy talk for, “We combine the GST with the provincial tax.” It’s at 13%, so the PST is really 8%–steep stuff coming from Alberta, the land of no PST. So I took advantage of it and bought more than I planned to–it was cheap, and the variety was good, and I always buy groceries for a long term (long being a few weeks).

After I finished (and down about $100), I confidently took the cartveyor and escalator down. Weeeeee!

Here comes the ordeal. Stowing the cart, I retrieved the cloth bags–4 of them, bulging, and each a few kilograms (one item in a bag, a package of chicken, was already over 1 kg). No car, too cheap for a bus (and no knowledge of the bus routes anyway, and the buses here run hourly or so), and home is 20 minutes away. Taxi out of the question, that’s even more expensive!

And it was later in the afternoon–it got warmer. All in all, it took longer than 20 to get home, and I’ve never felt so helpless! It may sound silly to you that my most helpless moment was this, lugging home way too many groceries in hot weather. But truly–I was going at a crawl, the bulging bags kept almost bumping into my feet and nearly tripping me, when I kicked them it was heavy enough for the whole bag to twist my arm a little, and I’m not kidding when I say I was soaked through with sweat in the heat. People say that a lot, but really. At a few points, I stopped to rest and wipe my face–we’re talking really wet, like streams; it didn’t even feel sticky anymore, there was so much it became water.

I’m not a big sweater. Even when I run, I don’t really. Other guys I see, with those puddles on their chest, under their arms and down their backs after a run–that’s always puzzled me. I run harder than most of them–genetically, I’m just not much of a sweater. Not today, I felt bathed when I got home, my mind was despairing, and I was going to collapse. I HATE THE HEAT, I thought, and, Oh, to have a car…

That’s even considering how frightening the roads are here…

But I did get home, finally. Ugh, that was horrible (and if you thought about it–no, I couldn’t get Karen to drive me, and I think she would’ve. She was out of town for the weekend).

ANYWAY…I made a big communal pot of cream of broccoli soup (delicious), and Karen came back later in the evening, and gave me some truly brilliant Atlantic crab from her trip. It was already cooked, I just needed to reheat it–and you’ve already heard my lobster praise. Well…the crab praise is much the same. Condensed: HUMONGOUS. I said the Atlantic lobster was big, but not particularly bigger, but Atlantic crab is quite massive. SWEET–oh so very sweet and meaty, their legs yield thick sticks of perfectly whole meat. And again, more intensely flavoured–crab times 1.5, and also a little saltier. Awesome.

Over dinner, I was chatting with another rentee, Sam and her friend. They’re both from around here, and we got to talking accents…

I apparently have an accent, so Sam claims! Well, I guess I would, if they talk with their accent (in my point of view)! I observed the whole “bot/but” “whot/what” thing to them, and she agreed, and I suggested then that the way I speak is flatter (“but”–the UT sound, rather than an airier OT sound, that pronounces like “aught”), while they speak…almost a little…higher or “rounder” in tone. It’s hard to explain.

Then her friend gave me some local lingo! 🙂 And it’s catchy–the more I say it, the more it rolls off the tongue. It may stick….

“What’re ya at?”
=What are ya at?
=What are you at?

It’s a strange one, no? I told them, “It sounds like you should be saying, ‘Where are ya at,’ which makes sense; because if you break it down, ‘What are ya at’ makes no logical sense whatsoever.”

That’s not the point, they still say it haha. It means simply, “How do you do?” or “How are you/ya?” You say it really fast–there’s barely a pause between “ya” and “at.” It sounds like “What-er ya-at?” It’s a friendly greeting or inquiry.

“What’re ya at by?”
=What are ya at by?
=What are you at by?

Again, if you looked at each part and together, there is no logical sense of meaning whatsoever, but it’s still used. It’s just a beat behind “What’re ya at?” by a single word, so it’s also real fast–but this is used negatively. It’s something you exclaim, or say in frustration or sarcasm, and it would mean something like, “What are you doing?” or “What are you thinking?” (emphasis mine to convey that it is not a question, but an exasperated expression), or tell someone they’re being pissy.***

***UPDATE: my intern buddy was puzzled by this, and explained it differently. She says it’s like “What are ya at?”, only “by” is a stand-in for mandude, orguy. She did not agree with the negative connotation, but admitted yes, you could say it in such a way to make it hostile, but that’s like everything else. So, it’s essentially “What’s up, man?” or “How are ya, man?” (She tells me that in Ontario, everyone uses “guy” for man or dude–“What’s up, guy?”). She also gave me:

“Luh!” (or is it “Le”?)
=Look!

Very simply, it’s an even shorter way to call attention to something–someone may, for example, see something, point at it, and exclaim, “Luh luh!” (We don’t know how to spell it; it rhymes with “duh,” though). It’s equivalent is “Look look!” It needn’t be so urgent, (one “Luh” may be adequate), but that’s what it’s used for.

Fascinating, eh?? And “eh” is still common, no matter where in Canada. 🙂

Now you know how to respond if someone (or me…) throws such a phrase your way!

Advertisements
  1. Interesting… I hope you taught them some Albertan slang terms in return. Actually, do we even have any?

  2. I know, eh? I was wracking my brain for Alberta-isms, but the more I think about it, the more I think our English is just…NORMAL haha. Tell me if you think of any!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: