Over the past 20 years roughly 235,000 new immigrants arrive in Canada every year. The current Liberal government has upped immigration levels to 300,000 people per year. Covid 19 isn't helping them get to that number but the intent is there. There’s a lot of criteria to get by the bureaucrat bouncer at the Canadian immigration rope line, but if you’re between 18 and 54, language is an important factor for your approval.
To successfully immigrate to Canada, you have to speak and understand either English or French at what is called “Level 4”.
With level 4 you could understand a grocery list, but perhaps not a doctoral thesis. And may I just say, that as a native English speaker, I have fallen asleep reading a few doctoral thesis.
Canadian is not as easy as you might think. For example, do you have any idea what we call Beyonce's husband up here?
This episode will prepare you to speak Canadian.
© 2021 Matt Zimbel
MZ: Hi, I’m Matt Zimbel in Montreal
MIO: And I’m Mio Adilman in Toronto.
MIO: So! You want to immigrate to Canada, eh? That’s great! Welcome - Bienvenue.
MZ: we need more people up here Mio, well we’re not fucking very often up here and we’re running out of folks.
MIO: Is that your pitch? Let’s look at your chances…. Over the past 20 years roughly 235,000 new immigrants arrive in Canada every year. The current Liberal government has upped immigration levels to 300,000 people per year. There’s a lot of criteria to get by the bureaucrat bouncer at the Canadian immigration rope line, because Canada is a disco - but it you’re between 18 and 54, language is an important factor for your approval.
To successfully immigrate to Canada, you have to speak and understand either English or French at what is called “Level 4”. For about 80% of immigrants to Canada, English or French is not their mother tongue
With Level 4 you could understand a grocery list, but not a doctoral thesis. And may I just say, as a native English speaker, myself, that most doctoral thesis, and I have fallen asleep reading a few, are written in a pseudo-intellectual style we call ‘contemporary wankage” or in French “wankagè contemporain” which I think sounds smarter don’t you?
MZ: Everything sounds smarter in French, Mio.
Please don’t feel excluded if you don’t understand the thesis… you weren’t meant to. Only other ascot wearing academics sipping a glass of claret could possibly understand it. And, truth is, you will usually find more compelling writing …on a grocery list…
As an American, this language proficiency test should be a slam dunk for you, but, after watching a couple of episodes of Duck Dynasty, we may need to hedge our bets.
Clip: I can’t understand a word he says, “ain’t no doubt in my mind -gotta straighten that boy out.”
MZ: First of all, once all your papers for immigration are deemed in order, you will have to have a personal interview with a Canadian immigration officer.
At the immigration interview do not say “fuck” followed by “pardon my French.” It’s not French, it’s English. In fact, the French don’t even see fuck as a bad word. You can read it in family newspapers quite regularly. Francophone Quebecers, a verb loving people, have even figured out a way to conjugate fuck to fucké — which means all screwed up.
Tabarnac le patent est tout fucke.
Translation: Damn, the things is all fucked up. For those of you who are sticklers for grammar, fucké is fuck in its subjunctive, future anterior, past tense, feminine form. How’s that for academic authority?
MIO: Matt you are becoming an academic yourself. You could write a paper on the conjugation of the word fucke.
MZ: Before we get there, Mio, I just want to tell you one thing. The fascinating thing about that phrase is that most of the words are also English words. Tabarnac is of course the tabernacle from the church - and all of the swear words in Quebec are religious words
MZ: which speak a great deal about the relationship Quebec has with the Roman Catholic church. Very tentative. The words patente is actually the word patent. A lot of the new American inventions did not have a name translation. On the back of the widget there would be the word patent, as in patent pending…that is the origin of that phrase.
Mio: Should we also tell people that there is another meaning for the word fuck in Quebec. In French the word fuck also means seal as in the animal from the north pole. So, you might also confuse the immigration officer who might think there is a seal in the airport.
Nice! Up here we got what ya call, Canadian English and it is, of course, based on British English. The British used to be our masters… when they ganged up with the French and stole the lands owned and operated by the Indigenous peoples. Up here, we spell things differently than you, we pronounce things differently than you and we expect that once you arrive, find a place to crash and get a gig, you will respect our spelling. …
MZ: We also punctuate differently than you– for example – as a modest, quiet, humble people, we rarely use exclamation points. Way too showy! Mio, I have a language issue specific to the podcast that I need to address. I was listening to last week’s show, doing the quality control pass after the mix and about halfway through I was a bit horrified with myself, cuz I realized that every single time I voice an American character dialect on this show, a show that we created for progressives, I use a pronounced southern accent and let’s just say, not the gracious, elegant accent of the south, I use the southern accent from a sketchy trailer park from Mitch McConnellville, in downtown Tennessee.
Mio: It’s not Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
That has to be obnoxious. I’ve been rude and unfeeling. Apologies. You guys in the states are traumatized by pandemics, white trash Capital insurrections and Lindsey Graham. And every time I role play American I make you sound like Honey Boo Boo’s baby daddy.
No wonder our Canadian listenership is so large! I’m going to make a promise of performance for the rest of this show I will not be speaking Hillbilly. Respect.
MIO: Hillbilly lite. Look I think you are being too tough on yourself. I’ve personally heard you do mid-west accents, New Jersey hoodlum, and New York cab driver…
MZ: you are kind but that was a New York intellectual, not cab driver.
MIO: Someone call NYU. Letters in our alphabet, yes, our alphabet, are pronounced differently. Actually, just one. The last one. Your Zee? Our Zed. This is crucial – because once you get here and decide you want to start identifying as a Canadian, say Zee as in Zoo, zee oh oh, and boom you just outed yourself as a yank.
MZ: So, Mio, to bring our progressives, through a few crucial linguistic points and Canadian expressions, I’ve created a true or false quiz that I would like you to take… …feeling good? Champ, ready to go?
MIO: It’s on my schedule. That was a terrible British accent.
MZ: Schedule...Americans are so arrogant - you know when I got here from New York I heard the Canadian national news anchor pronounce it schedule and I, then a 12 year old American child punk, thought I caught the professional announcer making a mistake. I caught him I caught him he said…
Ok, so the test…
Number One: You’re a clerk in a Canadian store. A customer makes a purchase. Following the transaction, the customer says, “thank you.” You say?
3. You’re welcome.
Mio: Sorry. That was a bad joke. You’re welcome.
MZ: That’s very good –but did you ever notice that in the states they don’t say that anymore.
Mio: I figured, the first two options were American and I figured the third one was …ok give me the next one, come on.
Number two: In Canada Beyonce’s husband’s name is pronounced:
 Jay Zee
 Jay Zed
Mio: This is like a Dad joke. Everyone knows that in Canada it’s pronounced it is Jay Zed.
MZ; Three…What is the plural of the second person personal pronoun?
1. Youse guys
Mio: This is very hard, I’m going to go with youse guys.
MZ; You have been asked to “Netflix and Chill” what will you do?
1. Watch an audio-visual program on a television set.
2. Take off your underpants.
3. All of the above.
Mio: that assuming that I’m wearing underpants, all of the above.
MZ; That just shows you how dated this show is – a television set – coming to you live from the 1959’s the first podcast in the world.
What is the correct Canadian spelling of Colour.
Mio: Colour I just find that the u is completely unnecessary – we all know…
In Canada, a hoser is a:
1. A firefighter
2. An irrigation specialist
3. Canada’s version of American White Trash
Mio: I love all of these, can I just say D all of the above.
A Loonie is a
 Mentally unstable co-worker
 An increment of Canadian money generally valued around 78 cents American
 Half of a Toonie [RF2]
 All of the above
Mio: All of the above however, the even more correct answer would be # 2 –an increment of Canadian money generally valued at 78 cents American.
MZ: You did well. You did very well
Mio: So, I can stay? I passed the immigration test then?
MZ: It was a trick question it was a crappy questionnaire.
Mio: I think we’ve talked about this before where there are certain tests that people have to take to get into the country that some Canadians might not be able to pass. So it is comforting for me to know that I know something about out country.
MZ: In preparation for this episode, I did take some sample language tests. The tests are given by independent companies, not the government. And I’ll tell you I do have my grade nine but….
Mio: Your grade nine what?
MZ: Look, if you played along and got 2 out of 7 you can teach Canadian Studies at Princeton. If you got 5 out of 7, you will receive your approved Canadian Citizenship in the mail when you subscribe to this podcast on the platform of your choice. Bienvenue au Canada. [RF3]
Mio: Yeah, welcome.
MZ: If you scored 8 out of 8 – you are very smart, but way too ambitious, too “American”, we don’t appreciate that kind of striving in these here parts. You fail. Sorry. The rest of you will have to retake the test, because Striver here fucked up the grading curve for everyone else.
Mio: You know the easiest way to get into Parliament is people think that you’re a snob or too smart and in a lot of places they send away the person they don’t like. If they like the candidate too much they don’t want them to leave.
MIO: Beyond the rigours of study, and I really do not give a fuck what my American spell check says about it ….rigour is spelled with a “u” up here…r-i-g-o-u-r ….
MZ: You know this is how it all starts …worldwide American dominance, American exceptionalism…the spell checker on our studio equipment, is programmed in the US
MIO: And we don’t have a studio, Wait, do we?
MZ: Mio, I’m American, I am recording this podcast in my closet, but because of the American Exceptionalism gene cluster that I was born with, I have the right to call it a studio,.
When I click on the studio computer icon called “Canadian English” it still spells in American. Imagine how francophone Canadians felt when the world wide web decided it didn’t like all those silly little accents they toss indiscriminately around their letters.
MIO: Ok, I was making a point before I was interrupted by an American. Beyond the rigours r-i-g-o-u-r-s of study, the best way to understand Canadian slang is to watch Canadian feature films and this is not as easy as you might think.
“Wait …how can that be?”…I hear you ask. “Aren’t Toronto and Vancouver nicknamed ‘Hollywood North’.” Well, yes, this is where American studios come to make their films because they get Canadian tax breaks, the American dollar is worth more and we have developed an excellent “little people” film industry.
MZ; Your studios come up here with your big stars, your top billed directors, your casting agents, directors of photography, designers etc. and we supply the day players, the assistant camera operators, the cables and some snacks. We can easily make Toronto look like New York by dumping a shit ton of U.S. style prop garbage on our
clean streets and painting all the cabs yellow. Oh, yeah, and teaching the extras how to hork on the sidewalks. Send in the hork coach) Easy! When you’re done shooting you take your big block buster pic back to America and do all your post-production.
MIO: We, on the other hand, make our films here. We tell Canadian stories. Or we are supposed to anyway, but we are so hungry for an international hit we tell “Universal” Canadian stories. Nothing “too” Canadian. But, alas, it doesn’t work. Oh, don’t get me wrong, great films are made in Canada, by Canadians. We have amazing writers, actors, directors, DOP’s you name it – the talent up here is awesome, but domestic films only occupy 1.5% to 2% of our national screens. The rest is all your block busters, your film franchises and the odd wannabe art film. Can you believe that? 1 to 2% of our own screens held by Canadian releases. The marketing campaign for a Canadian film release does not last …. as long as this sentence.
MZ: Wow great campaign Mio. French language films in Quebec do a little better but not much. The Canadian government invests more than 100 million dollars a year in a film agency called Telefilm which is responsible for assisting in domestic film production and marketing in both English and French Canada. Additionally, film producers can receive “tax –credits” which are actually cash payments based on a complicated formula of labour hired, location of the production and the digestive difficulties of a mid-level film bureaucrat.
Mio: In fact, when you get the money, they actually hand it to you in an envelope. It’s called an envelope.
MZ; It is called an envelope that’s very true. They don’t hand you cash though.
MIO; Oh, I thought they handed you an envelope of cash.
MZ: No, no, no that’s Bruno who is helping you finance your porn film.
Toronto hosts one of the biggest and most important film festivals in the world. It’s called the Toronto International Film Festival - TIFF and it transforms Toronto into a sycophantic burg of fans, star struck by American and British actors. Now, I need to set
the record straight, here, I am not an actor, though I have occasionally played one on tv. So, it’s not like I’m filled with the petty jealousies of a preening mid-level Canadian star.
But ya know Toronto, there are actors who live there year-round. Some of them are actually very talented and somewhat well known. But the way it’s played at The Toronto International Film Festival you’d think the Torontonians who line up in the sun for hours and hours just to get a glimpse of a DiCaprio or an Aniston, have never actually seen an actor in their natural red carpeted habitat.
MIO: If you can find a Canadian film, study the slang and the vocal ticks carefully, it will help you ace your immigration test, when you get here it will help you integrate into your new home, and you’ll see some excellent films in the process.
MZ: Ok, we gotta go, one last practice:
MZ: No, it is pronounced: Forget -about- it, eh?