Opinion

Michaels: Let the fruits of your mother tongue melt in your mouth like poutine

If I was Alex Trebek, and I said “A dish of French fries covered with brown gravy and cheese curds,” I’m assuming you, as a proud flag-waving Canuck, would know what to say next.

A simple, “What is poutine?” would be a winning answer.

As of today, the response could also be, “The newest Canadian themed word in the Merriam Webster dictionary.”

That’s right. Ooey gooey greasy poutine is no longer a Canadian secret. It’s in the dictionary, and I’m chuffed to hear it.

Sure, Merriam Webster also added the heinous words “hashtag” and “selfie” at the same time, somewhat downgrading the honour, but why quibble about the details.

Some culinary cool from the kitchens of my people making it to the pages of America’s best-selling dictionary, let alone cookbooks, is something somewhat remarkable.

More remarkable, however, is the wonderful fluidity of the English language.

Just like molten cheese curds, it’s forever morphing to accommodate its surroundings.

And the slang—the gorgeous mouth-warming slang is my favourite part.

It’s my personal goal to slip at least one infrequently used word, either formal or slang-ish, into each column I write. See the way I used the UK-friendly “chuffed” up there? Enough said. Or not. Read on.

Nobody ever says anything when I work to tweak my vocabulary, but job satisfaction does soar in tandem.

Of course, with each successful experiment is an utter fumble.

Last week there was confusion on where to use historic, versus historical. I still have nightmares about my early days as a reporter when a particularly persnickety woman would write in about my mistakes.

One that comes to mind right now is using “over” when I should have been writing “more than.”

Then forget the flat out spelling mistakes. Those always get a call. For the record, I do know how to spell practice. And practise.

I’ve been practising using it correctly for the last month.

But, I digress.

The point is, language is a wonderful and fluid thing and on days like this, it’s a delicious thing to ponder.

Almost as delicious as poutine.

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