Here are some of the things I found myself saying that elicited confusion in New York:
- a change is as good as a rest
- to tear a strip off of somebody
- to go up one side of somebody and down the other
- to twig to something/be twigged to something
- Bob's your uncle
- beater (old car)
- pastry (pie crust)
- take a boo
- heel (of bread)
- laid on (provided by the host)
Some things are simple idiolects but might still be recognizable to other Canadians. Whenever there's any kind of extreme weather, Winnifred and I say to each other, "the wind she blow on Lac St. Pierre," a reference to a poem memorized by generations of Canadian school children and still alive in the popular consciousness. Never mind the poem stopped being taught well before I went to school; and never mind that our "quote" doesn't actually appear in the poem. Somehow, you say, "the wind she blow on Lac St. Pierre" (with a fakey Quebecois accent) and it makes sense. "Gee that's a heck of a wind, eh?" Nobody thinks anything of it. Say it in Brooklyn, however, and people think you're strange.
On the opposite side of the equation are the terms and usages we found exotic. The famous "all right" pronounced with no consonants provided many hours of amusement as we attempted to mimic it. We took tips from strangers on the subway (or "train" as they say) and tried to elicit it from locals of our acquaintance. The New York-ism we have most fully adopted is what Winnifred calls the "splice which." Neither of us can remember if this is a term she heard or read somewhere, or if she made it up. There might be a better way to describe it. At any rate, it goes like this:
She's yelling at me for coming in after curfew, which that's not even fair because my brother does it all the time.
She's yelling at me for never cleaning my room, which it's none of her business anyway.
See how useful that is? It is so much more emphatic than a grammatical "which isn't even fair" would be, and much more urgent and immediate than starting a new sentence. They just splice it together with a "which" and Bob's your uncle. We use it all the time now. I could not say why our examples are both from the realm of teenage unhappiness, except perhaps that teenage distress is a natural breeding ground for linguistic novelty.
Then there are instances where the same phrase means one thing in Vancouver and something else in New York. In New York, "Where you at?" is a request for simple factual information. "Where are you right now?" Where as in Vancouver, "where are you at?" (we're a grammatical bunch) would mean, "what is your psychic/emotional state at the present time?" There are instances in popular culture when both meanings seem to be present, but in New York I only ever heard it used to mean literal geographic coordinates. So last night when Winnifred and I were meeting up with my mom for dinner, I called her as I got out of the train--pardon me, SkyTrain--and asked "Where you at?" and she told me she was just parking in front of my mom's house. Another Vancouverite would be likely to say, "oh okay, you know, hard day at work, etc."