Do you know what a converter is? If I asked you to hand me the converter, would you know what to give me? I’m going to guess that most people don’t know what that is, and that’s understandable.
‘Converter’ is Canadian-speak for TV remote, though I also found this Reddit thread that believes that it’s mostly an Ontario thing.
And that just boggles my mind. How does one province manage to almost collectively just use and understand another name for such a random object? I know there’s gotta be some cultural or linguistic explanation that I’m too lazy to really look into, but it is interesting.
Especially because personally I use both “remote” and “converter” interchangeably. They both feel so natural coming out of my mouth, which is weird because I’ve been trying to think about which one I use more or in what context and even I can’t separate the two in my thoughts. I think my family and I do use remote more, though perhaps that’s because I’ve also shortened remote to “mote” as in “mote me” when I want to be passed the remote. It’s what all the cool kids are saying.
I did wonder if “converter” has roots in Britain, as a lot of Canadian terms and phrases do come from across the pond, but apparently not. Not that I’m wildly surprised, as there are actually several more words used to reference the small channel changing device. Clicker, Zipper, Flipper, Channel-Changer… What do you call it?
And this isn’t the only example. Just the other day I saw a post on Tumblr asking people what the thing you use to push groceries around at the store is called. I call them “shopping carts” but one girl I follow on Tumblr called them “buggies”.
It’s really kind of fascinating. I mean, not fascinating enough to change my major to linguistics (I took an introduction course two years ago, and no thank you) but it’s the kind of thing that you think about on the bus with an intenseness. How many things in our world have multiple names in the same language? And why? How does it catch on? Can I just start calling socks “feetos” now? Like, “Mom, I’m missing a feeto. Have you seen it?” Or am I not popular enough to have “feeto” be a thing?
I guess it’s like slang and internet lingo. Slang has also fascinated me, because I find myself using it both ironically and unironically. Who comes up with it, and how does it work its way into our vocabularies? What is it about slang that is so functional?
Anyway, I wish I had the time or desire to look these questions up for you, but I do not, so all you get is this post of rambles. That, and an invitation to contact all your foreign friends and ask them what they think words mean or what they call things. It’s fun.
That’s all for now!