The one-word expression that has come to partially define a Canadian is dying. Instead “right” has moved in, elbowing “eh” out of the way among young, urban speakers of Canadian English.
“Eh is this quintessential thing that we think of as being so Canadian,” says Sali Tagliamonte, a linguist at the University of Toronto.
“In Toronto, and I would expect other cities like Ottawa and Vancouver … there’s a massive decline in the use of ‘eh.’ My kids don’t use it. They just don’t. They use something else.
“Eh was the one that kind of identified Canadians for the longest time,” said the linguist, who has four children, ages 10 to 23, and a 30-year-old stepson. “But when I talk to my kids [they say], ‘I don’t want to sound like an old man!’