Put those chips from the chemist in the boot of the car…

From the Port Explorer for Charlottetown from Celebrity Cruises:

USEFUL WORDS AND PHRASES English and French are the official languages of Canada. English speaking Canadians might use other words than Americans for certain things. Some examples include:

Canadian English — American English
pop — soda
chemist — pharmacy
boot — trunk of a car
chips — French fries

Only one of these, in my experience, is accurate.

The Celebrity Summit docks in Charlottetown for the first time next Thursday, September 23 at 8:00 a.m. with 2,100 passengers aboard. Through the generous arrangements of local travel agent Tracey Allen I’m actually due to have lunch on the ship.


Ann Thurlow's picture
Ann Thurlow on September 16, 2010 - 17:40

I spot two.
When I first came to Canada, I was baffled by the use of the word “chips” when referring to what I knew as french fries. And, though Americans know what pop is, all of the Americans I know call it soda.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on September 16, 2010 - 17:53

If you walked into a corner store in Canada and said “where are the chips,” they’d send you to the Ruffles and the Pringles, not to the McCains.

Rob's picture
Rob on September 16, 2010 - 18:02

Recently in Maine I asked where I might get some fish and chips. Was told that is “a Canadian thing”. They don’t call ‘em chips. You order fish, and a side of whatever else you want — fries, perhaps — but they don’t do fish and chips.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on September 16, 2010 - 18:33

Good point: I’d forgotten that the “chips” in “fish & chips” means “french-fried potatoes.”

DerekMac's picture
DerekMac on September 16, 2010 - 19:14

My understanding is that in England the thick cut product, such as is served here at Churchill Arms English pub is called “chips” while the thinly-sliced McDonald’s style stuff is called “French fries” and the Ruffles-style product we call “potato chips” is known as “crisps”. North Americans generally refer to the thick-cut “chips” as “steak fries”.

Outside of English pubs, Canadians only refer to “fries” (regardless of thickness) as “chips” when accompanied by a slab of deep-fried breaded fish. I discovered the same thing as Rob when I travelled in the US — they don’t have a clue what you are talking about when you order “fish and chips”, a term that I had thought was universal.

It’s “soda” in New England, “pop” in Canada, “coke” in the Southern US (even if it’s not that brown stuff invented in Atlanta), “pop” in the mid and North west US, and varies elsewhere.
Someone has actually mapped this on a website:

As for “boot” and “chemist” — never in Canada!

Ann Thurlow's picture
Ann Thurlow on September 16, 2010 - 20:30

I disagree Derek Mac — at least on the chips question. The use of chips for fries is still pretty common in Ontario (where I first heard it). And the midwest US branch of my family only ever drinks soda.

DerekMac's picture
DerekMac on September 16, 2010 - 23:18

I guess I stand corrected, Ann, about the chips question. I remember the ubiquitous “chip wagons” from when I lived in Ottawa in the early 80’s, where the deep fried potato product was often eaten with those wooden “chip forks”. The “chips” name may be disappearing over time, but, now that I think about it, at least in Ontario, it’s certainly not limited to English pubs, and it’s certainly not been entirely replaced by “fries”.

I have not spent a lot of time in the American midwest, and the aforementioned popvssoda.com site shows that it has pockets of both “soda” and “pop”, although the latter has the edge in the Chicago area, which would have the biggest population base. Personally, I believe a law should be passed to always refer to it as “soda pop” and end this huge linguistic divide.

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