We take our pride where we can find it – even when it's under the G for grow-op.
The preferred Canadian term for an illegal marijuana-growing operation (as if you needed to be told) has just gained entry into the Oxford English Dictionary. The fact that there's added Canadian content in the most authoritative catalogue of global English, even if it's just a dubious source of B.C. Bud, has to stir our linguistic patriotism as Canada Day approaches.
The OED is not the most exclusive club on Earth, clearly. But as the English language evolves and expands across the planet with all-conquering ease, it's encouraging that everyday Canadians, both criminal and law-abiding, still have a contribution to make.
Some 500 words were added to the online OED's roster this week, and keen-eyed Canucks will notice a number of familiar terms that are now deemed worthy of international legitimacy – such as "double-double." How can the language of Shakespeare not be enriched by the jargon of Tim Hortons, the quintessential marker of average, ordinary, everyday Canadianness?
Yes, the OED has added "twerk" and "crowdfund" and "declutter," as you'd expect – even dictionaries bend to trends. But it's the more unexpected ascents of lexicography that give us pleasure, like "mangia-cake" – a jocular phrasing that essentially describes the double-double crowd from the somewhat critical Italian-Canadian perspective. Mangia-cake has been deployed to good effect in Canada since roughly the 1970s, which shows how long it takes to rise from the immigrant slang of urban Canada to the rarefied heights of Oxford's dreaming spires. In its own small way, this is a notable triumph of multiculturalism.
Similarly we salute "dépanneur," the Quebec French word for corner store that transcended its origins to become a Montreal anglophone usage as well – more often as "dep," it's true, but let Oxford keep to its formalities. Then there's "crokinole," a word rooted in the French for flicking or flipping that we know best as a rustic board game awaiting its hipster revival. And where would a contemporary OED reader be without "inukshuk" – a now-universalized Inuktitut word and garden-centre purchase that is so much more precise and evocative and proudly Canadian than saying, "That pile of rocks that kind of looks like a person."