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24 Canadianisms Way More Interesting Than "Eh?"

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The first and last historical dictionary of Canadian English, A Dictionary of Canadianisms on Historical Principles, was published in 1967. A new edition has been in the works since 2005, and is scheduled for publication in 2015, but in the meantime the original dictionary has been put online and makes a wonderful place to search or browse through the wordy history of "our neighbors to the North" (either an Americanism or a cliché, depending on how you feel about it). Here are some Canadianisms that are much more interesting than the usual "eh?"

1. back junk

"Junk" was a word for a chunk of log or piece of firewood. "Back junk" is defined as "a large log placed at the back of a wood fire to make it last."

2. Calgary redeye

Skip the Bloody Mary and have one of these, "a mixture of tomato juice and beer, a drink associated with Calgary, Alberta, and the surrounding area."

3. Calumet fever

A term used among Ottawa valley lumberjacks, it referred to the "fear of riding a crib of logs down the slide at Calumet, Quebec."

4. Fishocracy

A term describing the structure of the Newfoundland fishing industry. A 1940 source explains, "the fishocracy comprised in descending order: (1) the principal merchants, high officials, and some lawyers and medical men; (2) small merchants, important shopkeepers, lawyers, doctors, and secondary officials; (3) grocers, master mechanics, and schooner holders; and (4) fishermen."

5. Hogtown

A nickname for Toronto which some say harkens back to its role in the meat-packing industry, but which the dictionary says is "so called because outsiders accuse Torontonians of taking everything unto themselves."

6. Hydro

Hydro-electric power. Canadians still talk about dealing with their "hydro bill."

7. idiot stick

A small, cheap version of a Native totem pole sold to tourists in British Columbia.

8. improved Britisher

Good-natured teasing term for "an immigrant from the British Isles, especially an Englishman, who has been in Canada long enough to have lost some of his native shortcomings." See also, "improved Scotsman."

9. Jawbone

An old Western slang term for credit, "presumably because the jawbone had to be exercised in speaking to win over the creditor." A 1966 citation reads, "the mower parts would have been charged or, in the language of the country, put on his jawbone."

10. mal de raquette

From the French for "snowshoe sickness." It refers to "a painful state of inflamed joints and muscles affecting snowshoers, caused by undue strain on the tendons of the leg."

11. moose milk

Northern slang for moonshine, it has also come to refer to mixed drinks based on rum and milk.

12. Moscovadoey

A term from Eastern Quebec for snow with the texture of muscovado (raw sugar).

13. Mudpup

A term for "a young Englishman sent out to Western Canada to learn farming." A 1955 source claims that "when the war [WWI] started the Mud Pups joined up to the last man and the bachelor population of Duncan vanished overnight."

14. Muffin

A 1965 history explains, "at the beginning of the winter season each young man chose 'a muffin'—a 'steady date' for the season—an arrangement terminated by mutual consent in the following spring." An 1865 book also gave the term "muffinage" for the state of being hooked up with a muffin. But an 1873 source claimed "no lady owned to ever having been a muffin, at least not until she knew her young man well enough to tell him so."

15.Ogopogo

A sea monster said to live in Okanagan Lake in British Columbia. A 1936 source describes what he looks like: "Ogopogo's head is slightly reminiscent of Henry VIII, he has a torso like an accordeon, and a tail like a shillelagh."

16. Rubaboo

A stew of pemmican, flour, and various other things on hand. Now used figuratively for a mishmash of varied stuff. An arts festival in Alberta calls itself Rubaboo after "a Michif (Métis) word meaning a stew that’s full of life and food that feeds the spirit."

17. sugaring-off

"The process of boiling maple sap to make syrup and sugar through evaporation and crystallization." Also, "a party held in the sugar bush at the time of sugaring-off."

18. Winnipeg couch

A simple couch that could be opened into a bed. According to a 1958 source "the Winnipeg couch was a fine oldtimer, built of solid iron and coil springs in those days when Canadians fell into bed with their boots on."

The new edition of A Dictionary of Canadianisms on Historical Principles will include terms that came into use after the 1967 edition, such as:

19. all-dressed

"All optional garnishes on fast food items." (Eastern Canada)

20. bunny hug

"A hooded sweatshirt." (Saskatchewan)

21. Loonie

"One dollar coin."

22. mangia-cake

"A name used by Italian-Canadians in a jocular or derogatory way to refer to 'a non-Italian white person with characteristic North American traits and customs."

23. Midget

"A level of amateur sports for players usually aged 16-17"; or "a player in such a league."

24. Toonie

"Two dollar coin."

Got a Canadianism you're worried they might miss? They're taking suggestions!

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11 Ridiculously Overdue Library Books (That Were Finally Returned)
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Last week, Massachusetts's Attleboro Public Library received a big surprise when one of its regular patrons returned a copy of T.S. Arthur's The Young Lady at Home ... more than 78 years after it had been checked out. 

The man, whose name was not revealed, was reportedly helping a friend clean out his basement when he came across the tome. He recognized the library's stamp, then noticed its original due date: November 21, 1938. “We were amazed,” said Amy Rhilinger, the library’s assistant director. “I’ve worked here for 15 years, and I’ve never seen anything like this before.”

Because the library charges $.10 per day for overdue books, the total bill for this dusty read would come to about $2800—but the library isn't planning to cash in. “We’re not the library police," Rhilinger said. "We’re not tracking everyone’s things. Everyone returns things a few [days] late, and it’s one thing we joke about here.”

Though it's rare, the decades-overdue book's return is not unprecedented. Here are 11 more tardy returns.

1. The Versatile Grain and the Elegant Bean: A Celebration of the World’s Most Healthful Foods by Sheryl and Mel London

LOANED FROM: The Lawrence Public Library in Lawrence, Kansas
YEARS OVERDUE: 21

In 2014, someone anonymously returned this fitness-friendly cookbook, which had been missing since September 24, 1992. The volume, published that April, contains over 300 recipes—and it’s probably safe to assume that the culprit had plenty of time to try out every single one of them.

2. The Real Book About Snakes by Jane Sherman

LOANED FROM: The Champaign County Library in Urbana, Ohio 
YEARS OVERDUE: 41

Like the previous entry, whoever turned in this musty old field guide declined to reveal his name. But lest anyone question the man’s honesty, he also left the following note: “Sorry I’ve kept this book so long, but I’m a really slow reader! I’ve enclosed my fine of $299.30 (41 years, 2 cents a day). Once again, my apologies!”

3. Days and Deeds: A Book of Verse for Children’s Reading and Speaking compiled by Burton and Elizabeth Stevenson

LOANED FROM: The Kewanee Public Library in Kewanee, Illinois
YEARS OVERDUE: 47

According to Guinness World Records, the $345.14 fee paid by the borrower of this lyrical compilation stands as the highest library fine ever paid.

4. The Fire of Francis Xavier by Arthur R. McGratty

LOANED FROM: The New York Public Library, Fort Washington Branch, in New York, New York
YEARS OVERDUE: 55

In 2013, this one was discreetly mailed in and the perpetrator was never brought to justice (be on guard, Big Apple bibliophiles).

5. The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi

LOANED FROM: The Rugby Library in Warwick, England 
YEARS OVERDUE: 63

The item found its way home during an eight-day “fines amnesty period,” which shielded the guilty patron from a £4000 penalty. “It’s amazing to think how much the library has changed since that book was taken out in 1950,” said librarian Joanna Girdle. 

6. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

LOANED FROM: The Chicago Public Library in Chicago, Illinois 
YEARS OVERDUE: 78

Harlean Hoffman Vision found a rare edition of this novel nestled amongst her late mother’s personal effects and vowed to set things right. “She kept saying, ‘You’re not going to arrest me?’” recalled marketing director Ruth Lednicer, “and we said, ‘No, we’re so happy you brought it back.’”

7. Master of Men by E. Phillips Oppenheim

Amazon, Public Domain

LOANED FROM: The Leicester County Library in Leicester, England
YEARS OVERDUE: 79

Oppenheim was born in the surrounding region and, hence, the Leicestershire County Council was thrilled to reclaim this piece of their literary heritage after it turned up in a nearby house—even though the library branch it originally belonged to had shut down decades earlier.

8. Facts I Ought to Know About the Government of My Country by William H. Bartlett

Amazon, Public Domain

LOANED FROM: The New Bedford Public Library in New Bedford, Massachusetts
YEARS OVERDUE: 99

Stanley Dudek of Mansfield, Massachusetts claims that his mother—a Polish immigrant—decided to brush up on American politics by borrowing this volume from the New Bedford Library in 1910. “For a person who was just becoming a citizen, it was the perfect book for her,” says Dudek.

9. Insectivorous Plants by Charles Darwin

LOANED FROM: The Camden School of Arts Lending Library in Sydney, Australia
YEARS OVERDUE: 122

An Australian copy of Darwin’s treatise on bug-eating flora was borrowed in 1889. After two World Wars, Neil Armstrong’s moon landing, and the birth of the internet, it was finally returned on July 22, 2011.

10. The Ancient History of the Egyptians, Carthaginians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Medes and Persians, Macedonians, and Grecians (volume II) by Charles Rollin

LOANED FROM: The Grace Doherty Library in Danville, Kentucky
YEARS OVERDUE: 150 (approximately)

In 2013, this tome was discovered at a neighboring school for the deaf, where it had presumably been stored since 1854 (as evidenced by a note written inside dating to that year). The library owns no records from this period, so exactly how long it was gone is anybody’s guess, but, said librarian Stan Campbell, “It’s been out of the library for at least 150 years."

11. The Law of Nations by Emmerich de Vattel

LOANED FROM: The New York Society Library in New York City
YEARS OVERDUE: 221

Five months into his first presidential term, George Washington borrowed this legal manifesto from the historic New York Society Library. For the next 221 years, it remained stowed away at his Virginia home, and organization officials wondered if they’d ever see it again. “We’re not actively pursuing overdue fines,” joked head librarian Mark Bartlett. “But we would be very happy to see the book returned.” His wish was granted when Mount Vernon staff finally sent it back in 2010 (luckily, they dodged a whopping $300,000 late fee).

An earlier version of this post appeared in 2014.

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11 Popular Quotes Commonly Misattributed to F. Scott Fitzgerald
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F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote a lot of famous lines, from musings on failure in Tender is the Night to “so we beat on, boats against the current” from The Great Gatsby. Yet even with a seemingly never-ending well of words and beautiful quotations, many popular idioms and phrases are wrongly attributed to the famous Jazz Age author, who was born on this day in 1896. Here are 11 popular phrases that are often misattributed to Fitzgerald. (You may need to update your Pinterest boards.)

1. “WRITE DRUNK, EDIT SOBER.”

This quote is often attributed to either Fitzgerald or his contemporary, Ernest Hemingway, who died in 1961. There is no evidence in the collected works of either writer to support that attribution; the idea was first associated with Fitzgerald in a 1996 Associated Press story, and later in Stephen Fry’s memoir More Fool Me. In actuality, humorist Peter De Vries coined an early version of the phrase in a 1964 novel titled Reuben, Reuben.

2. “FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH: IT’S NEVER TOO LATE OR, IN MY CASE, TOO EARLY TO BE WHOEVER YOU WANT TO BE.”

It’s easy to see where the mistake could be made regarding this quote: Fitzgerald wrote the short story “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” in 1922 for Collier's Magazine, and it was adapted into a movie of the same name, directed by David Fincher and starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, in 2008. Eric Roth wrote the screenplay, in which that quotation appears.

3. “OUR LIVES ARE DEFINED BY OPPORTUNITIES, EVEN THE ONES WE MISS.”

This is a similar case to the previous quotation; this quote is attributed to Benjamin Button’s character in the film adaptation. It’s found in the script, but not in the original short story.

4. “YOU’LL UNDERSTAND WHY STORMS ARE NAMED AFTER PEOPLE.”

There is no evidence that Fitzgerald penned this line in any of his known works. In this Pinterest pin, it is attributed to his novel The Beautiful and Damned. However, nothing like that appears in the book; additionally, according to the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Association, although there were a few storms named after saints, and an Australian meteorologist was giving storms names in the 19th century, the practice didn’t become widespread until after 1941. Fitzgerald died in 1940.

5. “A SENTIMENTAL PERSON THINKS THINGS WILL LAST. A ROMANTIC PERSON HAS A DESPERATE CONFIDENCE THAT THEY WON’T.”

This exact quote does not appear in Fitzgerald’s work—though a version of it does, in his 1920 novel This Side of Paradise:

“No, I’m romantic—a sentimental person thinks things will last—a romantic person hopes against hope that they won’t. Sentiment is emotional.” The incorrect version is widely circulated and requoted.

6. “IT’S A FUNNY THING ABOUT COMING HOME. NOTHING CHANGES. EVERYTHING LOOKS THE SAME, FEELS THE SAME, EVEN SMELLS THE SAME. YOU REALIZE WHAT’S CHANGED IS YOU.”

This quote also appears in the 2008 The Curious Case of Benjamin Button script, but not in the original short story.

7. “GREAT BOOKS WRITE THEMSELVES; ONLY BAD BOOKS HAVE TO BE WRITTEN.”

There is no evidence of this quote in any of Fitzgerald’s writings; it mostly seems to circulate on websites like qotd.org, quotefancy.com and azquotes.com with no clarification as to where it originated.

8. “SHE WAS BEAUTIFUL, BUT NOT LIKE THOSE GIRLS IN THE MAGAZINES. SHE WAS BEAUTIFUL FOR THE WAY SHE THOUGHT. SHE WAS BEAUTIFUL FOR THE SPARKLE IN HER EYES WHEN SHE TALKED ABOUT SOMETHING SHE LOVED. SHE WAS BEAUTIFUL FOR HER ABILITY TO MAKE OTHER PEOPLE SMILE, EVEN IF SHE WAS SAD. NO, SHE WASN’T BEAUTIFUL FOR SOMETHING AS TEMPORARY AS HER LOOKS. SHE WAS BEAUTIFUL, DEEP DOWN TO HER SOUL.”

This quote may have originated in a memoir/advice book published in 2011 by Natalie Newman titled Butterflies and Bullshit, where it appears in its entirety. It was attributed to Fitzgerald in a January 2015 Thought Catalog article, and was quoted as written by an unknown source in Hello, Beauty Full: Seeing Yourself as God Sees You by Elisa Morgan, published in September 2015. However, there’s no evidence that Fitzgerald said or wrote anything like it.

9. “AND IN THE END, WE WERE ALL JUST HUMANS, DRUNK ON THE IDEA THAT LOVE, ONLY LOVE, COULD HEAL OUR BROKENNESS.”

Christopher Poindexter, the successful Instagram poet, wrote this as part of a cycle of poems called “the blooming of madness” in 2013. After a Twitter account called @SirJayGatsby tweeted the phrase with no attribution, it went viral as being attributed to Fitzgerald. Poindexter has addressed its origin on several occasions.

10. “YOU NEED CHAOS IN YOUR SOUL TO GIVE BIRTH TO A DANCING STAR.”

This poetic phrase is actually derived from the work of philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, who died in 1900, just four years after Fitzgerald was born in 1896. In his book Thus Spake ZarathustraNietzsche wrote the phrase, “One must have chaos within to enable one to give birth to a dancing star.” Over time, it’s been truncated and modernized into the currently popular version, which was included in the 2009 book You Majored in What?: Designing Your Path from College to Career by Katharine Brooks.

11. “FOR THE GIRLS WITH MESSY HAIR AND THIRSTY HEARTS.”

This quote is the dedication in Jodi Lynn Anderson’s book Tiger Lily, a reimagining of the classic story of Peter Pan. While it is often attributed to Anderson, many Tumblr pages and online posts cite Fitzgerald as its author.

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