The Word on the Street Is . . . Coordinates

Word on the StreetIt’s a funny feeling when a word that might have struck me as peculiar before moving to Montreal starts to feel completely natural. Take coordinates. Where I grew up, we had a class called Orienteering. Basically, the teacher would shove us onto a school bus, drive us deep into the woods, and drop us off with a map, various coordinates, a compass, and a “good luck.”

Decades later, when I first heard an Anglo say “I’ll give you my coordinates,” I got flashes of those terrifying episodes of being lost in a dark wood surrounded by dizzyingly tall cedars and pines.

For the average English-speaker, the word coordinates is reserved for coordinating matching outfits for school, trying to find their way out of a stand of sugar maples, or solving a geometry problem. But in Montreal “I’ll give you my coordinates” is just the locals’ way of saying “here’s my number.” In a broader sense, it could mean your home and email addresses, phone number, social media handle, or any other way to get a hold of you.

So if you’re visiting La belle ville and a handsome stranger asks for your coordinates, don’t provide them with the longitude and latitude of your home. Take it as a compliment, fork over your phone number, and see what happens.

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