Canadian v/s American English --> Can't distinguish them!

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Canadian v/s American English --> Can't distinguish them!

Postby Strigo » 2005-09-04, 21:56

Can youi help em to distinguish them? I can distinguish Scottish, English, irish, Australian, African, Southern American spoken language... but not Canadian!

Could you tell me about some of its features so I can make a difference?
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Postby Hunef » 2005-09-04, 22:58

I definitely can distinguish between southern and northern accent (in USA), but I hear no difference whatsoever between northern accent and canadian accent. Thus, I guess the difference is greater within USA than between USA and Canada. (Which is easily explained since USA has more than a ten times greater english speaking population.) One concrete example - I am not sure this is true though - is that in Canada they say "aboot" instead of 'about'. (If this is true, 'ou' is more or less general "oo" in Canada.)
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Postby lillekvinne » 2005-09-04, 23:33

well I am from the states and in my opinion it really depends on what part of canada the person is from...people from certain areas have closer to american accents....how strong the difference really depends on where you are from...

but I do know that in places where my accent (washington state) uses an ah sound (like father...too bad I don't know much about representing sounds) a canadian accent will use the a sound like in apple...(mazda, pasta...words like that)

they do say eh a lot though...and no matter how much they fight it its true...one time we counted how many times my cousins (from canada) said 'eh' over the weekend they were with us...and it was going into the hundreds within hours and we decided to stop....

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Postby Kirk » 2005-09-05, 0:18

One thing that's important to remember is that political boundaries don't always entail exact dialectal or language boundaries (in fact it's relatively rare that that's the case amongst human languages). This is why I often speak of North American English instead of just Canadian or American English, as the two are part of a larger grouping.

However, there are some features which are associated with Canadian English. Probably the most prominent and famous example is Canadian Raising. However, not all Canadians have Canadian Raising and some northern US dialects also have Canadian Raising to various degrees.

I'm usually able to tell Canadians by features such as Canadian Raising coupled with a lack of the Northern Cities Vowel Shift as well as several other sayings and isolated pronunciations which are generally Canadian. However, it's not always easy to tell even for North Americans. I've met Americans who sounded Canadian to me, and vice versa. I recently found out that a girl I work with is from Ottawa, and I had no idea before that, as she has no Canadian Raising in her speech or other telltale Canadian pronunciations. However, she has lived here for a few years so any Canadianisms she had before might've been diminished with time here. The same can happen to Americans who move to Canada and acquire Canadian pronunciations and sayings unconsciously.
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Postby lillekvinne » 2005-09-05, 0:49

svenska84 wrote:One thing that's important to remember is that political boundaries don't always entail exact dialectal or language boundaries (in fact it's relatively rare that that's the case amongst human languages).

I've met Americans who sounded Canadian to me, and vice versa. I recently found out that a girl I work with is from Ottawa, and I had no idea before that, as she has no Canadian Raising in her speech or other telltale Canadian pronunciations. However, she has lived here for a few years so any Canadianisms she had before might've been diminished with time here. The same can happen to Americans who move to Canada and acquire Canadian pronunciations and sayings unconsciously.


this is quite similar to what I was trying to say before but worded very terribly...

I do think that there are many varieties of accents across canada similar to the way they are in the states...
I also think that if you move to a new place its easy to lose certain aspects of your native accent...
However as a whole there are certain things different about the way canadians speak...obviously people from different countries have different things that are popular there, different historical dates they remember and so forth...these types of things are often used in terms of speach etc... so in that respect there are differences in terms of political lines between accents...

anyways I'm moving on to say this...I might be slightly biased about accents of certain areas (say b.c.) because I can see B.C. from where I live....so to me its not quite so different...however my counsins from alberta sound very different to me...

the point is as I was saying before...it all depends on the part of canada they are from and what part of the US you are from...(or more generally...what accent you use)

I know I ramble on...don't hate me

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Postby Kirk » 2005-09-05, 0:58

lillekvinne wrote:I do think that there are many varieties of accents across canada similar to the way they are in the states...


Yes, that's true.

lillekvinne wrote:the point is as I was saying before...it all depends on the part of canada they are from and what part of the US you are from...(or more generally...what accent you use)


That's right. North American English can't be split into two-mega varieties based on political boundaries.
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Postby JackFrost » 2005-09-05, 1:48

Hunef wrote:that in Canada they say "aboot" instead of 'about'. (If this is true, 'ou' is more or less general "oo" in Canada.)

That's just a stereotype, I never ever met a Canadian that says "aboot" instead of "about". ;)
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Postby Kirk » 2005-09-05, 5:26

JackFrost wrote:
Hunef wrote:that in Canada they say "aboot" instead of 'about'. (If this is true, 'ou' is more or less general "oo" in Canada.)

That's just a stereotype, I never ever met a Canadian that says "aboot" instead of "about". ;)


Well, it's partly true. What is true is that a great many Canadians (tho not all) do exhibit aforementioned Canadian Raising, which means that a word like "about" is affected, as it's a voiceless consonant following the diphthong [aʊ], so with Canadian Raising it's pronounced roughly [əʊ]. However, jocular spellings of this often include things like "aboot" which would seem to indicate [əbut] which is not a part of any Canadian dialect I'm aware of. So, there is no "aboot" but Canadian Raising "about" does sound different than General American "about." And remember Canadian Raising only applies to diphthongs [aʊ] and [aɪ] before unvoiced consonants. Thus, compare where GenCan and GenAm are the same and different:

"about" "lout" "loud" "knife" "knives" "house (noun)" "house (verb)" "writer" "rider"

GenAm: [əˈbaʊt] [laʊt] [laʊːd] [naɪf] [naɪːvz] [haʊs] [haʊːz] [ˈɹaɪɾɚ] [ˈɹaɪɾɚ]
Can: [əˈbəʊt] [ləʊt] [laʊːd] [nəɪf] [naɪːvz] [həʊs] [haʊːz] [ˈɹəɪɾɚ] [ˈɹaɪɾɚ]
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Postby Oleksij » 2005-09-05, 20:58

The Canadian Raising is not unique at all. It is a very important part of Northern Irish accent and Scottish accent. For example, in Northern Ireland the word "house" would sound like [hois] not [haus].
The same refers to loads and loads of other words...
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Postby RZariski » 2005-09-05, 21:29

There are a number of different accents in Canada, although I will agree that there really isn't much of a difference in the way Northern American's and Canadians speak with a few exceptions. I am from Western Canada and there really is no difference between the way I speak and say people in Washington, Idaho, Montana, California. However in the East, I can usually tell if a person is from Newfoundland, or Nova Scotia as they have a different accent. The aboot instead of about is bull. Having travelled all through Canada and been living here for 19 years I have never heard someone say aboot instead of about except as a joke. We do say EH quite a bit, but not nearly to the extent that
and it was going into the hundreds within hours and we decided to stop...


I find this too hard to believe. I bet that they were pulling your leg.

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Postby MikeL » 2005-09-05, 22:01

As far as I can recall all the Canadians I have met (and we're not talking hundreds here...) have pronounced the diphthong in "out" differently from Americans. It's the only feature of their pronunciation that enables me to recognize their origin. I assumed it was a result of a Scottish influence.

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Postby RZariski » 2005-09-06, 17:21

Could be a significant influence from the native Gaelic speakers that reside in Nova Scotia.


That's exactly the reason. =) There are still a couple of thousand scottish gaelic speakers in canada, and more who are learning, as Nova Scotia is trying to preserve the language as best as it can.

A note to everyone interested in this thread. I recorded the Canadian Version of Sounds of the World if you are interested in hearing it. It might give you a better idea of what Canadian English sounds like. But to be honest, unless the person has a distinct accent you will usually not be able to tell the difference between a Canadian English speaker, and an American English speaker. For example,

I would not be able to tell if a person was an American unless they had say, a Boston Accent, or a New York Accent, or Southern Drawl, etc. For Canadians, unless they are from Nova Scotia or Newfoundland, they could be from anywhere in either the USA or Canada.

It is very hard to tell, and all of my jobs have dealt with tourism so I've seen, and spoken to hundreds of thousands of tourists from all over the world, and the only sure way to know if they are Canadian or American is by some usage of slang, or by just asking them :p.

Another note, I've heard Americans say ruff, instead of roof. I'm not sure if that is from a distinct accent, but I've never heard canadians say that.

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Postby JackFrost » 2005-09-06, 17:53

ReikoZ wrote:Another note, I've heard Americans say ruff, instead of roof. I'm not sure if that is from a distinct accent, but I've never heard canadians say that.

Well, in my case, I say it like "roof".
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Postby Stan » 2005-09-06, 18:57

ReikoZ wrote:Another note, I've heard Americans say ruff, instead of roof. I'm not sure if that is from a distinct accent, but I've never heard canadians say that.


We say "roof". I don't know what you mean by "ruff", but I believe the other pronunciation of "roof" would have a vowel the same as the vowel in "book".

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Postby Gormur » 2005-09-06, 19:08

Yes, there's a definite difference. :wink:
Curiously enough, I've never had a Canadian peg me as an American by my accent. Unless I tell them, they assume I'm Canadian. Too much American media up here...

I'm surprised that Canadians themselves often can't distinguish between many American and Canadian dialects. I think Americans are more apt to recognize a Canadian, since they're (in general) not as readily exposed to Canadian English.

Here's Wiki's description, which is grossly vague, but may give you some direction:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_English#Prairies

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newfoundland_English

Newfie English...

http://www.heritage.nf.ca/dictionary/


A few basic differences:

http://www.ic.arizona.edu/~lsp/Canadian ... diphthongs


I'm sure Kirk (Svenska) and others have better resources...

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Postby Gormur » 2005-09-06, 19:17

gigant26 wrote:The Canadian Raising is not unique at all. It is a very important part of Northern Irish accent and Scottish accent. For example, in Northern Ireland the word "house" would sound like [hois] not [haus].
The same refers to loads and loads of other words...
Ooh, aym from Bewfasht...


Yes, and NFL English sounds like Irish English. My mom's employer is from rural NFL; I can hardly understand her mother (very thick accent). They use Irish slang, the letter "h" is "haych", and there are many other unique features...if I didn't know they were from Canada, I'd say they were from Ireland. :wink:

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Postby Gormur » 2005-09-06, 19:29

gigant26 wrote:The Canadian Raising is not unique at all. It is a very important part of Northern Irish accent and Scottish accent. For example, in Northern Ireland the word "house" would sound like [hois] not [haus].
The same refers to loads and loads of other words...
Ooh, aym from Bewfasht...


Yes, and NFL English sounds like Irish English. My mom's employer is from rural NFL; I can hardly understand her mother (very thick accent). They use Irish slang, the letter "h" is "haych", and there are many other unique features...if I didn't know they were from Canada, I would say they were from Ireland. :wink:

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Postby lillekvinne » 2005-09-07, 19:34

ReikoZ wrote:
and it was going into the hundreds within hours and we decided to stop...


I find this too hard to believe. I bet that they were pulling your leg.


well they didn't know when we started to count...and I didn't say how many hours...it wasn't like a 20 minute span of time...and there were 2 of them...its not as unbelievable as you think....

although interestingly enough they have pretty much stopped saying it since they moved to oregon

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Postby Kirk » 2005-09-07, 23:46

gigant26 wrote:The Canadian Raising is not unique at all. It is a very important part of Northern Irish accent and Scottish accent. For example, in Northern Ireland the word "house" would sound like [hois] not [haus].
The same refers to loads and loads of other words...
Ooh, aym from Bewfasht...


But the specific rules applying to Canadian Raising are unique to North American English (and this is regardless of whether or not we're talking about Canadian Raising accents in Canada or the US as both countries have some dialects with CR). That's why it's noteworthy in this discussion.

ReikoZ wrote:Another note, I've heard Americans say ruff, instead of roof. I'm not sure if that is from a distinct accent, but I've never heard canadians say that.


I'm an American and I use the same vowel in "roof" and "moon," which is [ɯ] for me. I believe by "ruff" you meant [ʊ], the vowel in "book." I've heard some people say /rʊf/ but it's not a feature of my dialect (or many other Americans' for that matter :) ).

Stancel wrote:man I need to learn IPA one of these days


Yes you should! :)

ReikoZ wrote:There are a number of different accents in Canada, although I will agree that there really isn't much of a difference in the way Northern American's and Canadians speak with a few exceptions. I am from Western Canada and there really is no difference between the way I speak and say people in Washington, Idaho, Montana, California.


:shock: I'll speak for California since that's where I'm from but I can pretty easily tell the difference between most speakers from California and Western Canada. I have relatives who live in BC and every time I visit them and listen to them and others in their area speak I can easily point to several things that stand out as different than my accent.

ReikoZ wrote:However in the East, I can usually tell if a person is from Newfoundland, or Nova Scotia as they have a different accent. The aboot instead of about is bull.


What is bull is "aboot" literally meaning /u/, which no dialect in Canada has, I believe. What isn't bull is that dialects with Canadian Raising do have different diphthongs for /aɪ/ and /aʊ/ before unvoiced consonants (at a phonemic and phonetic level) than non-Canadian Raising dialects do. "Aboot" isn't an accurate representation of the sound but as a jocular spelling it does represent a real phenomenon.
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I eat prescriptivists for breakfast.

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Postby cweb255 » 2005-09-07, 23:50

What about the talking while breathing in I've heard when I visited PEI? Granted it was rare, is it seen elsewhere?


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