Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Canadians Put The "Eh" In Polite

Eh is for Canada.

Last night, while taking in a movie at a small local cinema I had occasion to bear witness to northern manners, to Canadian politeness. It was not a strangers dutiful display that I observed, it was my own. However before one continues I must stress I in no way intend to disobey modesty, I merely wish to describe how it is that I believe Canucks have garnered the international reputation of politeness. For it is most likely not from a direct motivation to be polite that makes us so; no, I believe the mild manner upon which our reputation is built is from the "eh" we all say.

It was in that crowded theatre that this was observed. For in the dark auditorium, where elbow to elbow we all sat, young teenagers texted with cell phones held high, giving the rows behind all the more unwanted screens to watch. After a few minutes, with these blue and white lights becoming irritants to myself and my neighbours I leaned forward and in a quick and sudden expression of frustration I said, "How about getting off the cell phones, eh?" Now I had been admittedly displeased with these young texters, and in the moments prior, politeness was the farthest thing from my mind; yet as I leaned back and the cell phones were closed I was struck by how non-confrontational my request had sounded.

Though I had meant to express my hostility, the statement I had made seemed rather restrained or subdued. It was not in the tone nor the words that prevented my rudeness from surfacing, it was the interjection of eh that did it all. That in asking a question or in making a statement, it occurred to me, that the short colloquial eh, preceded by the ever slight pause, makes almost all sound affable or in the very least indifferent. It is sure the meaning will still be conveyed but the manner will be ever so importantly altered as to render a more socially agreeable phrase irregardless.

I suggest, if doubt exists, to conjure up sayings, statements, or any combination of words, be they intrinsically positive or negative and it will be shown that with the addition of eh kind sentences will be made all the more jovial and harsh sentences will be made all the less disagreeable.

And it is from this that I put forth the Maple-Leaf-adorned owe their polite reputation. In adopting eh in our speech we have adopted a social mannerism that cannot contribute to anything but a courteous and civil society. Eh is for Canada.

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