The Canadian accent surely does exist and is significantly different from other accents out there. But, because of its close relations to the UK, America and Ireland, it is known to be one of the hardest accents to identify.
Are you really Canadian if you can't say a sentence without saying the word 'sorry'?
The History of the Canadian Accent
The Canadian accent can be traced back to the American Revolution in the late 18th century. The American colonist, who were still loyal to Britain, settled in what is now known as Ontario. This is why the Canadian English language is similar to the Midwestern American accent with similar spelling to the British language.
Regions on the east coast of Canada was populated by Irish and Scottish immigrants, thus creating a similar Canadian English accent.
This unique language continues to evolve and add to the dynamic country we call Canada.
Myths Aboot the Accent
Like any accent, the Canadian accent is a mystery to the unknown. But on the contrary to what many believe, there are plenty of myths about the accent.
- Canadians say the word ‘Eh’ after every sentence.
- Canadians pronounce the word ‘about’ as ‘aboot’.
- It is the same everywhere in Canada.
- It is the same as the American accent.
- All Canadians speak with a French accent.
Does the Accent Differ in Other Regions?
The simple answer is yes -- the Canadian accent differs across regions of Canada. If you have ever travelled to the far east from the far west, or vice-versa, you would feel like you landed in a new country.
The western part of Canada adopted a more Americanized accent. Places like Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia all were a gathering for settlers from many regions in America, hence why western Canada is so similar to American accents and British spelling.
The Ontario accent is probably what most people think of when they think of the Canadian accent. A popular identification of the Ontario accent is the dropping of the 'T' after an "N". For example, when pronouncing 'Toronto,' Torontonians often say it as 'Tuh-ron-oh.'
Because of the heavy settlement from Ireland and southwestern England in the 1900s, the Newfoundland accent is very distinctive. Their vernacular is full of unique phrases that many parts of Canada do not use. For example, they tend to say, "where ya at?” instead of “where are you?” or "fadder and mudder" instead of "father and mother."
The Quebec accent is also very different. Since Quebec members primarily speak French as their first language, they carry a French accent when speaking English. But, one thing to note is that their French accent differs from ones heard in France. For example, a common substitute when speaking France-French is to replace 't' sounds with 'z' sounds. In contrast, Quebec members say 't' more like 'd' .
Do I Speak with a Canadian Accent?
Although the sound between an American and a Canadian accent is too close to call, Canadians unintentionally do two things.
First is the 'Canadian Raising,' when some Canadian pronounce two-part vowels with a higher part of their mouths. An example of this is the infamous 'oot' sound. This replaces the ‘ou’ sounds in words like 'out' or 'about.' So why is it called the Canadian Raising? -- because when a word with the 'ou' sound is present, Canadians tend to raise their tongues higher in their mouths.
The second is a tendency that Canadians have to use the sound /æ/ in some words, unlike Americans who favour the pronunciation of a lower 'oh' sound in words like ‘mantra’ and ‘pasta.’
To learn more about other accents, check out our blogs about French accents, Chinese accents and Spanish accents. Or book an appointment to learn more about the Canadian accent.