A Conversation for Canada

Nothing aboot the accent?

Post 1

Hoovooloo

Or did I miss it? I read kinda quick...

H.


Nothing aboot the accent?

Post 2

anhaga

what accent? Or should I say "which accent?" There are thousands of accents of English in Canada and hundreds of languages. I have an Ottawa valley accent. My father has a Westmount accent when he speaks French. I have a friend who has a Viking, Alberta accent. I don't know anyone that says "aboot" except my Texan cousin who seems to have heard that Canadians talk like that. Is that what you mean? I did mention the dialect of Newfoundland. And I mentioned something about the multitude of languages. I was trying to give an accurate (if quirky) overview of the country; I wasn't interested in perpetuating foreign stereotypes.smiley - cheers


Nothing aboot the accent?

Post 3

Hoovooloo

Well, two observations:

1. you *could* have mentioned the stereotype specifically in order to scotch the /extremely common/ (thanks to South Park) myth that Canadians talk like that... but...

2. At work I'm currently dealing with a firm based in Burlington Ontario, and all the people I'm dealing with there definitely DO say "aboot", and "oot" (although "oot" doesn't really describe the sound, it's more like "aoout" or something...).

H.


Nothing aboot the accent?

Post 4

anhaga

That's very interesting! My texan cousin is actually my cousin-in-law. He married one of my real cousins and she's from -- you guessed it -- Burlington!

Sorry I didn't mention the Burlington accent -- it really didn't seem that big a thing. And none of the comments in Peer Review, nor any of the Canadian contributors (of which there were many) mentioned it. I don't think I talked about Canadian Bacon (which we call back bacon) either. Why do you call it Canadian Bacon?


Nothing aboot the accent?

Post 5

Hoovooloo

I just call it "bacon". But then I live in the UK...

H.


Nothing aboot the accent?

Post 6

Barneys Bucksaws

Do we have an accent? Territorial differences are more speach patterns and expressions than accents, the exception being Newfoundland (pronounced New-fin-land, at least most of the time).

Anyway, it was an excellent article. One thing you can always say about Canada, it sure isn't dull. If you don't like the weather, wait a minute. There's all the donut shops. We just LOVE to HATE our politicians, at the city, provincial and federal level. We have an exciting history, even though its really dull in Canadian History class in high school.


Nothing aboot the accent?

Post 7

anhaga

Actually, Bucksaw, I would argue English speaking Canadians have regional accents as distinct as those in the U. S. or the UK, accents which derive from the same sorts of historical backgrounds. But this is a whole other entry (or book).


Nothing aboot the accent?

Post 8

anhaga

oh, and:

no, we don't have one single Canadian accent; we have a multitude.


Nothing aboot the accent?

Post 9

Barneys Bucksaws

Sorry, meant that tongue-in-cheek. And that gives you another different speach pattern!

We definitely have different accents in different parts of the country. Makes each territory unique. Then you add the broken-English spoken by our diverse immigrants, and it gets really interesting.


Nothing aboot the accent?

Post 10

anhaga

smiley - sorry sometimes I get into this serious mood and my sense of humour sadly vanishes. I end up sounding really stupid.



Nothing aboot the accent?

Post 11

Barneys Bucksaws

Not at all! I should have clarified more. And I should know better. I've spent some time in each province, coast to coast (but not to coast, yet). We have an incredibly beautiful country, with each province having something to recommend it, from the Rocky Mountains, foothills, rolling and flat prairies, deserts, Canadian Shield, huge lakes, forests and more. More people should stand up and shout "I am Canadian".


Nothing aboot the accent?

Post 12

anhaga

'More people should stand up and shout "I am Canadian".'

Yes.

To bad the phrase is associated more with a beer in the hand than a landscape in the eye.


Nothing aboot the accent?

Post 13

Doogyman

I've been living in Texas for ten years, and when a local finds out I'm from Canada they say, "Oh, you say oot and aboot." I hotly deny this, but I guess that's the way it sounds to them. Maybe it's because so many of the early settlers to Canada came from Scotland. Someone made a comment the other day when I was talking about gourds. I pronounced it "goords", they pronounce it "gords." So why is there a "u" in it?


Nothing aboot the accent?

Post 14

anhaga

Texans should not make jokes about accents. What President from which state fairly recently baffled the English speaking world by threatening to smoke out all the "tourist folks" that were responsible for 9/11? That scared the crap out of my parents (who happened to be tourists in Lower Manhattan on 9/11).


Nothing aboot the accent?

Post 15

Barneys Bucksaws

A thought just occurred to me. We older ones learned "proper English pronounciation" from our (primarily English and Scottish) parents, and in the first few years of school. We were very much a proper English country then. We, in turn, passed it on to our kids, correcting their "bad" pronounciations and language-forms. I'm not commenting on who's right, and who's wrong, our way of speaking and putting sentences together makes us stand out.

Prime example: For some reason (who knows?) in the Manitoba town where we raised our son, a common form was "Do you got . . ." To correct it I always said "No, but I HAVE . . ." By the time The Kid finished high school, and had read several hundred books, he "got" it!


Nothing aboot the accent?

Post 16

anhaga

My short reply BB is "yes"smiley - biggrin

I must say that I'm driven a little nuts by elementary school teachers today who don't use grammar good.smiley - laugh I think you're right that there has been a conservative tendency in Canada toward maintaining British grammar, vocabulary, and idiom, but Canadian pronounciation (accent), despite the early efforts of the CBC, has gone it's own multivalent way. My mother says "podadoes". I bet her mother did, too. I say something more like "potadoes". Accent doesn't get "corrected" as often as grammar because it just doesn't get noticed.

Remember this exchange from everyone's childhood?

"can I have a cookie?"
"do you mean 'are you physically able to have a cookie'?"

smiley - laugh


Nothing aboot the accent?

Post 17

Barneys Bucksaws

Only too well! Brings back fond memories of my Grade 3 teacher, a certain Miss Schreiner, the terror of King George School! She was one of the last of the old maid school teachers, who knows how old. Schreiner was a stickler for grammer, spelling and hand writing. We were afraid to fail in her room; she took it as a personal failure, and would arrange to have you back to correct any errors she'd made in teaching you. I've seen her take a grade 6 boy, who out-weighed her, and towered over her, by the ear and howling in pain as she marched him off to the principal's office.

Funny how she's the one I remember most, though, isn't it? And my mother thought she was wonderful.


Nothing aboot the accent?

Post 18

Catachrest

Hi there!

Very nifty article! Very enjoyable. One comment about the Canadian accent - as a person who has all-but-completed her linguistics degree, I have been taught and found it to be generally accepted (and true, by my ear) that there is indeed a feature of pronunciation known as "Canadian raising" wherein the diphthongs /au/ /ai/ (or /aj/) change to [*u] and [*i] where * equals a lax mid central vowel (sort of an 'uh'). The result of this gobbledegook is that the vowels in words like "about" and "nice" become shorter and a little higher - the diphthong is changed. I live in Saskatchewan, but have driven over most of continental Canada and a lot of Newfoundland and have heard this characteristic from western BC into the maritimes. I find it most pronounced, however, in southern ontario and the plains.

There ARE an amazing number of accents in Canada - from the Vancouver accent that sounds so relaxed to the sing-song Cree/Algonquian accent heard so often in the plains, to the Irish-like accents of the east coast, but the characteristic Canadian vowel raising does exist. I have one friend who does it particularly strongly, and every time he says the word "about" I have to smile.

HOWEVER: The effect of Canadian raising does NOT change the /au/ to a straight /u/ sound - I have never in my life heard a Canadian say "aboot" - except when mocking the ignorance of Americans. :D :D

I do, however, know a distressing number of people who say "eh" after everything...but that's a different issue. smiley - smiley

Cheers!
S from Sask


Nothing aboot the accent?

Post 19

Barneys Bucksaws

What about the American Un-huh, used for thank-you, good-bye, and anywhere else it seems to not fit. I talk to Americans most days, sometimes all day, and it drives me crazy!


Nothing aboot the accent?

Post 20

anhaga

Now this is the type of rigour I like to see! It is good to see this careful analysis of both something that ties us all together and also sets us all apart: obviously we don't talk like Americans or the British; now we have an example of exactly how we don't talk like them. smiley - biggrin

Have you been by the Canadian Researchers' Club yet? Or Chief Gordon Lightfoot's thread? I'm busy with dinner right now so I'm not going to go searching for the links but I'm pretty sure they're on my personal space somewhere. smiley - smiley


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Nothing aboot the accent?

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