Not in the American sense anyway.
And the Americans pronounce semi to rhyme with buckeye.
We Canadians make semi rhyme with bucky. Don’t ask me what bucky is. But we all know what semiannual means. SEM – ee – ANN – you – ul.
In fact, the Americans pronounce the semi in semiannual the Canadian way.
But. Say the words semicircle, semicivilized, and semicolon.
In each case, a Canadian says the semi to rhyme with bucky. An American says the semi to rhyme with sensi, as in sensible and sensibly and sensitive.
I know, I know. It doesn’t make any sense.
Now back to the meaning of semi, when it stands by itself.
The Americans say semi (as in buckeye) when they mean a truck. A particular kind of truck. It refers to a semitrailer. What we Canadians call a transport, or a transport truck, or a tractor-trailer.
Now soon I will be getting around to the purpose of this dissertation.
And it is this. I ask you: If an American drives a semi across the border into Canada, does it remain a semi, or does it become a transport?
My conclusion is: To us Canadians it becomes a transport, but to many American drivers, they remain semis.
Which accounts for the high number of semi wrecks (that is, wrecks of semis, not half-wrecks) and driver fatalities on this region’s highways during the winter season.
This past weekend, blizzards slammed several parts of Canada. People immobilized, power outages, cars stuck. North of Lake Superior, where we live, we got five centimetres. Two inches. Barely enough to sneeze at.
Manitoba, however, got a great blast, a storm that carried on eastward into Northwestern Ontario. It was hard to find a ditch that didn’t have a semi in it.
The transports, though, just inched their way along snow-choked highways through zero-visibility whiteouts.
I can’t prove any of this, because I did not personally interview the drivers, nor look at the credentials of the fatalities.
It’s just an hypothesis at this point.
I believe that the drivers of semis who survived the blizzard were thinking of their trucks as transports. They were adapting to Canadian conditions.
The ones in the ditch (and those in the morgue) still thought they were driving semis. Maybe past flowering orange groves in Florida. Or through alkalai plains in New Mexico.
And it doesn’t necessarily take a blizzard to put a semi in the ditch. Just a few klicks from here just the other week, one driver missed a curve and wrecked his semi and stopped his own heart. There was nothing unusual about the weather. Just a normal winter day in Canada.
He was just not thinking like the driver of a Canadian transport.
Maybe he was semiconscious . . .
However you want to say that.