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

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Antiguan Spice
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Postby Antiguan Spice » 2005-09-08, 3:45

Personally the only major "Canadian" accents I have heard from the Eastern Provinces and Territories. I doubt that one could distinguish the average Albertan or British Columbian from someone from Montana or Washington. I'm not a born Canadian but I have lived here for a long time and when I travel to the Southern States and Caribbean with my family, most people ask where up north I'm from (usually surprised when I tell them how far North :lol: ) I think that in the past, the accents may have been more prevalent, but with the increasing amount of immigrants from all over the world, there really isn't much of a distinguishable accent. I think this supports the fact that people from the Eastern (Maritime) provinces and Newfoundland retain a distinguishable accent (because the ammount of immigrants isn't high).

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Kirk
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Postby Kirk » 2005-09-08, 4:44

Antiguan Spice wrote:Personally the only major "Canadian" accents I have heard from the Eastern Provinces and Territories. I doubt that one could distinguish the average Albertan or British Columbian from someone from Montana or Washington. I'm not a born Canadian but I have lived here for a long time and when I travel to the Southern States and Caribbean with my family, most people ask where up north I'm from (usually surprised when I tell them how far North :lol: ) I think that in the past, the accents may have been more prevalent, but with the increasing amount of immigrants from all over the world, there really isn't much of a distinguishable accent. I think this supports the fact that people from the Eastern (Maritime) provinces and Newfoundland retain a distinguishable accent (because the ammount of immigrants isn't high).


Well, actually linguistic research has shown that overall English dialects are diverging from one another, and that includes many North American dialects. You're right in that it's important to consider that dialects often transcend political boundaries, but there are certain features of North American English that are primarily associated with Canadian dialects (tho of course not all, and some of those features are most certainly associated with some US dialects as well).

The fact that I can pretty easily identify an accent that sounds Canadian to my ears isn't necessarily related to my knowledge in phonetics and phonology, as such things are often identified by those uninitiated in formal linguistics. Not long ago my dad (who's not a linguist) met a guy and could tell after a few minutes that he was Canadian by his accent and then asked him "so where in Canada are you from?" The Canadian man was surprised, as he hadn't told my dad where he was from, but my dad's guess was right nonetheless. A few weeks later I was with my dad and we randomly ended up seeing the Canadian guy around town so I got to talk with him for a bit. His accent wasn't exaggerated by any means but after a few sentences I could tell he was 1) definitely not from here and 2) was from Canada. I won't go into the gory phonetic details but I just wanted to point out there are some pretty consistent bases which can point to a Canadian accent.

However, this may not always be true. I think I may have mentioned before that I didn't know that a girl I work with was Canadian until she told me she was from Ottawa. However, her case may have been affected by the fact that she's lived here for several years (she came here for college). Anyway, I had never heard any Canadian Raising or other telltale Canadian features in her speech so her origin came as a surprise to me.
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'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves did gyre and gimble in the wabe.

I eat prescriptivists for breakfast.

maɪ nemz kʰɜ˞kʰ n̩ aɪ laɪk̚ fɨˈnɛ̞ɾɪ̞ks

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Postby amoeba » 2005-09-11, 4:00

Most Americans speak a dialect which is definately not identical to Canadian English. 'Standard' American English, as heard on news broadcasts, is very close to what most Canadians speak but this is not the language of the majority of Americans. Overall there is much more variation in American English than Canadian English.

For some young people in Canada it's considered desirable to sound as American as possible, and this is made possible by the abundance of American media here. However among some others there is an effort to sound as 'Canadian' (=not American) as possible. Anyway, it's not a perfectly clear boundary. Languages defy political borders.

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Postby Kirk » 2005-09-11, 5:41

amoeba wrote:Most Americans speak a dialect which is definately not identical to Canadian English. 'Standard' American English, as heard on news broadcasts, is very close to what most Canadians speak but this is not the language of the majority of Americans.


I would say there's a considerable gap between broadcast English and everyday speech for any dialect. Your comments seemed to imply the broadcast English of Americans is similar to how most Canadians speak. In my experience, there are large divides between broadcast speech and regular speech (whether we're talking about English dialects or any other language) as they're completely different registers (even if some people do believe they speak "just like the people on TV" :) ).

amoeba wrote:Anyway, it's not a perfectly clear boundary. Languages defy political borders.


Very true :) As I said before, that's why I prefer to talk about "North American English" when speaking and comparing world English dialects, as in many ways what we have here are really dialect continua instead of rigid dialects which end at political boundaries.
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'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves did gyre and gimble in the wabe.

I eat prescriptivists for breakfast.

maɪ nemz kʰɜ˞kʰ n̩ aɪ laɪk̚ fɨˈnɛ̞ɾɪ̞ks

amoeba

Postby amoeba » 2005-09-11, 15:20

svenska84 wrote:
amoeba wrote:Most Americans speak a dialect which is definately not identical to Canadian English. 'Standard' American English, as heard on news broadcasts, is very close to what most Canadians speak but this is not the language of the majority of Americans.


I would say there's a considerable gap between broadcast English and everyday speech for any dialect. Your comments seemed to imply the broadcast English of Americans is similar to how most Canadians speak. In my experience, there are large divides between broadcast speech and regular speech (whether we're talking about English dialects or any other language) as they're completely different registers (even if some people do believe they speak "just like the people on TV" :) ).


What I wanted to imply in my poorly-worded message is that American news English, which is based on a northern US dialect, is more similar to the speech of a majority of Canadians than Americans, because of the great variation in American speech.

Canadian English is much more uniform across the country (with the exception of some Atlantic regions and maybe Montreal English).

It's interesting that political borders have linguistic impacts in some places and not in others. From what I understand British Columbia English is very similar to west coast US English. But when I cross the border from Ontario to New York state, I notice the language difference right away.

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Postby jonathan » 2005-09-11, 23:13

The only thing that ever sounded different with my canadian friends was the way they said words like "bulb" or "about," but that's about it. With everything else, they fit right in with our American speech— Texas, to be exact!
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Postby Kirk » 2005-09-11, 23:43

amoeba wrote:
svenska84 wrote:
amoeba wrote:Most Americans speak a dialect which is definately not identical to Canadian English. 'Standard' American English, as heard on news broadcasts, is very close to what most Canadians speak but this is not the language of the majority of Americans.


I would say there's a considerable gap between broadcast English and everyday speech for any dialect. Your comments seemed to imply the broadcast English of Americans is similar to how most Canadians speak. In my experience, there are large divides between broadcast speech and regular speech (whether we're talking about English dialects or any other language) as they're completely different registers (even if some people do believe they speak "just like the people on TV" :) ).


What I wanted to imply in my poorly-worded message is that American news English, which is based on a northern US dialect, is more similar to the speech of a majority of Canadians than Americans, because of the great variation in American speech.


Well but even within broadcasting there can be much variation amongst American accents. For instance, many American broadcasters are not "cot-caught" merged while most Canadians are. Also, few American broadcasters display Canadian Raising. In fact, I'd say most American broadcasters don't speak what is typically known as Northern US speech, as most typical Northern US accents have been affected by the Northern Cities Vowel shift, and I rarely if ever hear NCVS broadcasters on TV or radio. The only time you're likely to hear them is in some actors' accents (anyone notice Joan Cusack's obvious NCVS accent in the movie School of Rock)?

amoeba wrote:Canadian English is much more uniform across the country (with the exception of some Atlantic regions and maybe Montreal English).

It's interesting that political borders have linguistic impacts in some places and not in others. From what I understand British Columbia English is very similar to west coast US English. But when I cross the border from Ontario to New York state, I notice the language difference right away.


That's interesting. Yeah I think there are some new developments going on in Pacific Northwest English that are being shared by both BC as well as Washington and Oregon and maybe Idaho. I have relatives from BC and they sound distinctly Canadian to me, especially because of things like Canadian Raising (which I don't have) and isolated pronunciations of certain words which differ from how we say things here.
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'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves did gyre and gimble in the wabe.

I eat prescriptivists for breakfast.

maɪ nemz kʰɜ˞kʰ n̩ aɪ laɪk̚ fɨˈnɛ̞ɾɪ̞ks

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Postby Gormur » 2005-09-17, 22:33

I hardly think we can generalize Canadian English just as we can hardly generalize American English. Linguistics aside, local terminology abounds and it amazes me how few Canadians are even aware or conscious of these differences...

I have friends from BC, some from the island and some from Vancouver and Burnaby. I can distinguish the speech between the islanders and the mainlanders, just to give you an idea. :wink: The main differences are in terminology...my best friend is from Victoria (grew up there, etc). He basically uses British English, and another guy I know from there speaks with the same inflection/intonation/usages, etc.

I'm not a linguist or linguistics student, however, which makes it difficult for me to give concrete examples...
I can try...

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Postby Rom » 2005-10-02, 17:18

Can you tell if this accent is Canadian or American? http://home.unilang.org/main/forum/viewtopic.php?t=7841[code][/code]

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Postby Gormur » 2005-10-04, 17:16

Yep, American. :wink:


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