Tuesday, 18 August 2009

The Canadian Accent, Eh.

Is there such a thing??? I'm not too sure, but some Brits I have encountered are adamant that there is. Apparently, these people can tell I'm Canadian because my accent is "nicer", "softer" and "less brash" than my American counterparts. I'm not sure if they are referring to stereotypical personality traits of Canucks, but since I'm on the phone a lot these days, the origin of my accent comes up quite a bit.

Personally, I think generally, the differences are minimal. Eastern Canadians, particularly the islanders, have a strong, jumbled accent, borrowing from their Scottish ancestors and god know what else. I also think Canadians have a somewhat nasal quality to their inflections. I recently heard a woman being interviewed on the news and I instantly said "She's Canadian" and she was. She was from some small town in B.C. and was nasal as hell, so I instantly heard the difference. Then again, Midwest Americans (I use "Fargo" as my reference) are pretty nasal, so you just can't be sure.

From my experience of living in the UK, it seems that Brits don't like Americans, or the idea of them, and are always eager to engage a Canadian. Everyone has a cousin/aunt/friend of a friend who lives in Canada and our reputation often precedes us. That usually means I can say most anything and get away with it. Muhahaha. Still, I feel a certain pride talking about Canada and discussing the differences between us and our Southern, gun-toting, anti-healthcare, undercover Republican brothers and sisters.* It's almost like being back home.

*I kid. I know they're not all like that.


  1. I used to work with a lot of Americans and always told me they love my accent...??I'm like..what accent?...
    They claim it's very distinctive, but I have no idea what they are talking about?...i think Montrealers have a completely neutral accent (ie none)

  2. Thanks for your post on my page, Kaki. Again, I really appreciate the input. I think I'll email her today.

    Now then... I'm going to assume I'm the only American reading this, so I gotta represent. ;p You Snow Mexicans absolutely do have an accent. :) The most distinctive feature of it (I think) is Canadian Raising, which you can Wiki. "Aboot" is an exaggeration, but that dipthong definitely comes out differently. To me it sounds almost more like a clipped version of "a boat." Shi has it, for example, though the few Montreal people I know seem to have less of it. From what I understand, the CBC has spread this and other Canadianisms from Toronto to the rest of the country. While we were in Scotland, Broon and Hugh seemed to think Aboot wasn't so far off from the way Scotsmen and Geordies talk --> funny he said that cause check out the Wiki possible origins section.

    That said, I think "softer," "nicer," and "less brash" don't mean a whole lot and often reflect cultural traits imputed to Americans more than the accent itself. In particular, I think many non-American Anglophones, despite not knowing any Southerners, have an extremely negative opinion of Southern culture and percieve it to be a more dominant stream in American culture than it actually is. That wouldn't be surprising since Bush, Clinton, Gore, Carter, etc., are all from the South. Then they associate those cultural traits with the accent. So when someone sounds non-Southern, they perceive it as softer, nicer, less brash. Like you mentioned, the Canadian accent has an overlap with certain regions of the US.

    As for complaining about 'merica, lemme just remind everyone that Britain has done far more to screw the world up than any other nation on earth. Also, four words for them: You. Invaded. Iraq. Too. :)

  3. Oh snap, I got served! I would love to see you go head to head with a Brit. I'd grab a big bucket of popcorn and watch the fur fly! As for the Southern accent, I think it definitely has negative connotations. I think because of the (stunted) rep of Southerners, people continue to believe that they are racist and ignorant, a stereotype perpetuated in the media and to an extent, politics. But then again, the South has A LOT to answer for (in the past and the present) so maybe the rep is somewhat deserved.

    And snow Mexicans?! WTF? Do you want me to kick your behind? You're just hating because we have good, free health care and tuition to our universities will not make you go blind from debt.

    As for the Canadian accent, I think it does vary across my large, beautiful country, but the "aboot" thing needs to die. I'm too lazy to Wiki the upraising, but I know what you mean. I constantly do it (as well as say "eh" a lot). Maybe that that is our accent. I must listen closer to American accents and Canadian accents.

    Stacy, Americans tell me that too and I don't get it. Whatev, I just don't want to be mistaken for our loud-mouthed neighbours.