It’s true. I’ll admit it. We Canadians do use the often-mocked term “eh” pronounced “ay“. I for one, find it extremely useful in my everyday life. I say things like:
“Cold today, eh?”
“Take care, eh?”
We use it when we want a response from someone, when we want someone to acknowledge what we said. We’ll even use it on it’s own if we’ve asked a question and a bit of time has gone by and we want to show that we’re still waiting on an answer. “Do you need my help with that?” Seconds pass, no response. “Eh?”
When I started spending more and more time in Italy, I realized that this tiny little two-letter word also had not one, but two Italian counterparts: ehi, pronounced, ay-ee, and eh, pronounced eh, more open-mouthed. My maple leaf-shaped heart burst with joy.
Now, the pronunciations are a little different, and the uses vary, but the Canadian inside me loves to be able to sneak in a little “ehi” or “eh” when I’m speaking Italian.
I answer the phone, “Pronto?” I realize who it is (a friend) and say “Ehiiiii” like you would say “hey”.
I need to get someone’s attention. “Ehi, ascolta un attimo.” Hey, listen up for a second.
I’m not sure about something that someone asks me. My response starts with an eloquent “Ehhhh, non lo so.” Hmm, I don’t know.
Don’t believe me, eh? Check out this little beauty I found:
Stavo mica scherzando, eh? I was hardly joking, eh?
So the next time you find yourself speaking Italian, just remember, there’s a little bit of “Canadian” in there too, eh?