Quebec vs. Ontario showdown

A few dates into my relationship with my now-husband, we were chatting in his car and he finished a thought with “If I hadda known.” Say what? “If I hadda known,” he repeated. Insufferable language snob that I am, I couldn’t resist pointing out that hadda doesn’t work as a contraction. Shoulda, woulda, coulda all work because they represent should have, would have, and could have respectively. Had have, on the other hand, makes no sense.

Montreal City Hall Français : Image panoramiqu...

Being a very smart guy (would I date any other kind?), hubby-to-be got it right away. Looking back, he found it hard to believe that he had been using this locution all his life without realizing the error of his ways. When I visited his home town of North Bay, I quickly learned that hadda was in rampant use among both professors and plumbers. No wonder my guy had latched onto the term.

I also heard numerous instances of “should have went,” “I’ve never wrote,” and the like during my visit. Over time, I learned that this malady – inserting the past form of a verb where the past participle ought to be – afflicts the whole province of Ontario, so by no means am I singling out North Bay.

Growing up in Montreal, I never encountered this verb confusion. Honestly, not a single time. What’s going on here? Is Montreal more cultured than Toronto, or did I hang out with more cultured people in Montreal than I do in Toronto? I don’t have the answer, but I plan to find out.

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2 Responses to Quebec vs. Ontario showdown

  1. Danica says:

    One that I still hear often is “for all intensive purposes” (sic). Ugh!

    When I was attended church regularly in my misguided youth, the way in which people would pronounce words in the prayer “Our Father” used to give me a snicker, e.g. “how old be thy name” (instead of “hallowed) and “lead a snot into temptation” (instead of “lead us not”)

    • Yes, I’ve heard that one too. Gives me an idea for a future blog…

      Regarding that biblical phrase you mentioned, When Drew was a child, he used to think it was “Harold be thy name.” He wasn’t sure why God would be called Harold, but he just accepted it as one of the mysteries of the adult world!

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