+0
Peter Trudgill states in his book an introduction to language and society: "Language can be a very important factor in group identification, group solidarity and the signalling of difference, and when a group is under attack from outside, signals of difference may become more important and are therefore exaggerated".

The above statement sounds reasonable. For some odd reason I started to think of Canadians. I'm not familiar with the way they speak, but I have understood, erroneously or not, that they do not want to be mixed up too much with Americans. If so, are there any major differences in pronounciation of some words, or some other special features that might be exaggerated?
Or is it true that Canadians have been too busy to explaing to the British that they are not Americans, and vice versa, that they haven't had time to become Canadians?
1 2
Comments  
There are differences in pronunciation, but I wouldn't say we exaggerate them, except on shows like SCTV.

Or is it true that Canadians have been too busy to explaing to the British that they are not Americans, and vice versa, that they haven't had time to become Canadians?
Definitely not true.
The Western and Central Canadian English dialect does have several differences from conservative General American, although many dialects in the US have some or all of the same features that are found in Western/Central Canadian English. Western/Central Canadian English is actually closer to General American than most dialects spoken in the US are, due to recent vowel shifts. General American used to be the standard for news broadcasts, etc. in Canada, but is now being displaced in favour of a Western/Central accent (not that many people can really tell the difference). Many people in Canada as well as many regions in the US believe that they are "accentless"--meaning they believe that they have no accent of any kind whatsoever.

It's also a bit artificial to speak of "American English" and "Canadian English" though. I've lived all my life on the Tsawwassen peninsula, on both the Canadian and the American side, and there's no difference in pronunciation. Even though the American side is not physically connected to the US, it's still technically part of the US, and thus could be considered to speak "American English", even though the accent is exactly the same on both sides of the border.
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
General Canadian English is extremely similar to General American English. However, there are a number of differences between the two dialects. Firstly, GCE (General Canadian English) exhibits a linguistic phenomenon called Canadian Raising. Basically, the diphthong “ai--as in "by" or "lie"--is raised before voiceless consonants (t, k, p, s, f); by contrast, this diphthong is not raised before other consonants (v, z, d, b, l, m, n, r, etc). Thus, by using Canadian Raising, the words in the following word pairs can be pronounced differently: ride and write, five and fife, and rise and rice.
The diphthong "au," as in "loud," is commonly raised before the consonants "t," "th," "ch," and "s." This diphthong is not raised before the consonants "d," "z," "n," and "j." As was pointed out, the word "about" sounds like "a boat"... well, to American ears, that is. In General American English, the diphthong "ai" is not raised before any consonant, nor is the diphthong "au." Yet, this raising has been occurring in various areas of the U.S., and it has spread quite far.

Another difference between these dialects is that, in GCE, the vowel "o" is always pronounced as "o" before the consonant "r." Therefore, “sorry” is pronounced sor-ee, “borrow” is pronounced bor-row, and “sorrow,” sor-row. In General American English, the vowel "o" is sometimes pronounced as the vowel "a"--as in "father"--before the consonant "r." In GAE (General American English), "sorry" is pronounced sar-ee, "borrow" is pronounced bar-row, and “sor-row” is pronounced sar-row. This, nevertheless, isn't very common in GAE; in fact, I can’t think of any other word that is pronounced with the vowel “a,” other than sorrow, borrow, and sorry.

Many Canadians pronounce the word "marry" as "merry." In GAE, “marry” is pronounced with the vowel “ae.”

In GCE, "pasta," "mazda," "lava," "drama," “Yahoo®,” "taco," and other similar words are pronounced with the vowel "ae." In GAE, these words are pronounced with the vowel "a.” In GCE, on the other hand, these and few other foreign words are pronounced with the vowel "a": macho, Guatemala, Bach, and karate. Why is this so? I sure as heck don't know; it's an anomaly.

Of course, let's not forget Canadian lexicon. In Canada, "pop" is universally used as a term for a carbonated beverage. Even in the U.S., "pop" is used quite widely. It's largely used in the Midwest, Upper Midwest, and Northwest. As well, many Canadians refer to candy bars as "chocolate bars."
In GCE, the idioms "in hospital" and "to university" are used, in lieu of the American idioms "in the hospital" and "to the university," which includes a definite article. So, one may say, "I'm going to have my surgery in hospital," or "I'm going to attend university during the fall."

The last letter of the Canadian alphabet, "zed," is different from the last letter of the American alphabet, "zee."

Well, this is pretty much all I know about GCE.
>> Many Canadians pronounce the word "marry" as "merry." In GAE, “marry” is pronounced with the vowel “ae.” <<

I disagree. General American English nowadays almost always refers to conservative varieties of the Northern (but not Northeastern) and Western dialects, which all have the same marry-marry-Mary merger.

>> The diphthong "au," as in "loud," is commonly raised before the consonants "t," "th," "ch," and "s." This diphthong is not raised before the consonants "d," "z," "n," and "j." <<

Why the distinction between the environment where /aU/ is raised, compared to the environment that /aI/ is raised? In speakers that raise both vowels, they're both raised before voiceless consonants, or for some, it also in a non-final syllable before a morpheme, so some people pronounce "rider" and "spider" differently.

>> In GAE, these words [ pasta, Mazda, etc. ] are pronounced with the vowel "a.” <<

What do you mean by the vowel "a"? Do you mean /A/?

>> Well, this is pretty much all I know about GCE. <<

You're forgetting the Canadian vowel shift.
Dear friends Emotion: smile

I am a russian student of foreign languages department and this year is my final one , I have a dissertation to write which is called :

"Modern linguistic problems in historical context: an investigation of some new trends in Canadian english ."

I am a little bit confused what shall I start with. Whether it is the history of Canadian english and follow up the varieties of canadian dialects or to write about periodization of Canadian english how it was forming throw the years that British english was influencing and American english and French which helped building up Canadian english which is spoken right now and then talk about innovations? I would gladly appreciate your help as in Moscow it is so hard to find any books about Canadian english , I 've been to the library and found a book by Mark Orkin but it is not enough for my work , maybe someone can send me some useful links.

Thank you so much in advance
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
Well, you are supposed to write about the new trends in Canadian English. Not the history of CE. I think that the Canadian Shift would probably be your best bet-it is a very recent innovation, and thus is one of the few features of CE that could be considered new. It also has many interesting Sociolinguistic variables associated with it-for example, young women are leading the change, whereas males, older women, and young children are much more conservative. You could include information on the early interviews--e.g. where they first discovered it. It is also interesting because this shift moves the vowels in the opposite direction from that of the Inland North dialect in the US. The Canadian Shift also affects some speakers in the Western US. There is also a related shift in California as well that contains many of the same features. The Canadian shift is thought to be triggered by the cot-caught merger. This is because, the merger of "cot" and "caught" leaves a hole in the vowel system, and many other vowels have to move around to maximize the difference between them. The cot-caught merger is an innovation in certain North American dialects. What is does is to cause speakers that have it to make no distinction between the vowels in words such as "cot" and "caught", or "bot" and "bought" or "tot" and "taught". They still have both vowels, but they apply them indiscriminately to those words: so if they were speaking to someone without the merger, and they said the word "cot" the non-merged individual would sometimes think that they were saying "cot" and at other times think they were saying "caught". Fortunately this rarely causes confusion, because most of the words are not able to be confused: e.g. because of context, it's impossible to confuse the words "cot" and "caught". The c-c merger is one of the mergers that is an innovation in North American English. It affects all of Canada. It is unknown exactly why. One hypothosis was that it was imported from Pennsylvania (which also has some c-c merged individuals). The merger is also universal in the Western US. The Midwest however, is predominately unmerged--most Midwesterners still have a distinction between those vowels. Several decades ago, there was no such thing as the c-c merger, but since then it has spread to cover a large section of North America. However, due to the configuration of vowels in other dialects, such as in much of the Midwest, it is unlikely to spread to those areas. This means, that crossing the border in many places between the US and Canada will immediately change dialects. The most extreme case is that between Detroit (US), and Windsor (Canada). Although they are so close geographically, the accent changes immediately, with no transitional area right at the border. Detroit is affected by the Northern Cities vowel shift, which is triggered by the fact that the "a" in "cat" is raised and is diphthongized. Detroit is completely c-c unmerged as well. Windsor is completely merged. The Northern Cities vowel shift (US) shifts many vowels in opposite directions as that of the Canadian shift. Thus the word "mop" in Detroit, sounds like how someone from Windsor would say "map". I even remember reading someones blog (that was from Windsor), and what happened when they asked for a "map" in Detroit. Just a few decades ago, when neither shift existed, this confusion would be impossible. You can read more about the Canadian shift, by going to Wikipedia. Go the the article on the English Wikipedia entitled "Canadian English", and find the section called the Canadian Shift. It then links to an article that contains a technical description of the shift. In fact this is one of the only places on the internet that contains info on the shift. And because it is such a recent innovation there are very few books on it. Then check out the Bibliography in that Wikipedia article. Then if you go to scholar.google.com you can type in the Bibliography items and in many case read the full text of the actual studies on the CVS!
Thank you so much , I appreciate you input that is very sweet of you thank you once again
"Many Canadians pronounce the word "marry" as "merry." In GAE, “marry” is pronounced with the vowel 'ae.' "

I've never encountered an American who said marry with /ae/ . Maybe you'd find that in the New England region, but pretty much anywhere else... We say it "mayrree". Long a.

Actually, I take it back. Steve Martin says it with /ae/. That might even have been the trend way back when, but it's a long a, nowadays.
Site Hint: Check out our list of pronunciation videos.
Show more