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Canadian and American accents

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41. Posted by BeanEater (First Time Poster 1 posts) 10y

Being a native french speaker, I can't tell the difference between Canadian and american accents, besides Texan of course. I can identify a "British" accent from scottish or irish (pretty obvious).

As for MY english accent, I'd say it must be pretty unique and thick with french. First, my native french accent is a dialect on it's own. I was raised in a rural region near the US border (Maine) and when I moved to Montreal, I had to adjust so people would understand. Some french people(from france) can't undertsand Quebecois. The best example being trying to order a coke in Paris with my best international french accent only to get "I don't speak english" from the waiter (True story).

42. Posted by markmac (Budding Member 60 posts) 10y

Quoting vickim


However, as far as accents go. Were you aware that most Canadians cannot distinguish the difference between an English and Australian accent?

Come On! Accents can be tricky, but the easiest to distinguish is between English and Australian. They are not even remotely alike! Australian and New Zealanders, that is another story. Sorry, I cannot tell, not enough experience between the two!

43. Posted by RJ Mc (Budding Member 33 posts) 10y

Drawl, heh? Well, Karl7 has it about right. We here in Texas seem to be able to make more syllables out of the shortest words. My youngest child's accent got really thick when we moved to East Texas. When someone asked her how old she was, I heard her reply "fo-wer." Oh my!
Rebecca

44. Posted by abcdf (Full Member 557 posts) 10y

Drawl, heh? Well, Karl7 has it about right. We here in Texas seem to be able to make more syllables out of the shortest words. My youngest child's accent got really thick when we moved to East Texas. When someone asked her how old she was, I heard her reply "fo-wer." Oh my!
Rebecca

That is so cute. Fo-wer! I love southern accents. I am Korean-American with a Californian accent. When I try to speak Korean it is all messed up.. and they all know that I am from California. southern Californians talk a little differently than northern Californains as well. We use different slangs not much of a difference but when ever I go to LA, people know that I am from Norcal.

45. Posted by Peter P. (Budding Member 35 posts) 10y

Wow – I don't know how I missed this thread for so long! I love language discussions! Of course, after reading Karl7's postings, I don't feel like there's too much I can add to the topic – very thorough Karl!
There is one thing though that I think often gets neglected in the discussion of North American dialects: the question of intonation. Whereas dialects generally differ from each other by their vowel pronunciations, it seems to me one way I can tell someone from the west coast well before analysing their phonetics is through their phrase intonation levels. I can't pinpoint it, but I think there are at least two or three intonation patterns that appear in the west (including Alberta) that are much stronger tell-alls than how the westerner says "about" in my eyes.

Anyway, the whole forum began when someone asked about the accents that appear in Canada and in the US. The irony is that the inquiring mind was from Australia, where I have seen speech and dialect patterns remarkably similar to Canada. (I put links to VIA's travel Canada pages so our friend in Australia can get an idea of geographic similarities as well)
The way I see it, we begin with the West Coast cities (in both countries). In British Columbia we have places like Vancouver and Prince Rupert, which are in many respects isolated (linguistically) from the rest of Canada, especially from the other metropolises. The same appears on the West Coast down under in Perth. Moving East, this dialect changes (much more quickly in Australia given the distance to the Centre, but not to a much larger degree. This results in Alberta (from Jasper National Park to Edmonton) being like the centre (from Alice up to Darwin) where you find a "stereotypical" accent (in both countries). Further East, we find the more populated regions that have accents which are more generic. In Canada, (neglecting the French), from Toronto to Ottawa to Montreal there are dialectic variations generally only visible to professionals and to locals. The same applies from Sydney down to Melbourne and Adelaide. Heading to the coast there is a spectrum of dialects that are very identifiable. In Canada, there is the general Atlantic dialect, like in Halifax, as well as the incredible French/English melange that is found in New Brunswick. In Australia there is nothing quite like in NB, but up the coast there is a definite Queensland speak. Finally, crossing a bit of water, Newfoundland offers the ears an English that sound like it's from another country – much like how New Zealand has a dialect that is from a another country! The difference from the mainland populated regions is one that can be heard to the untrained ear almost immediately.
Anyway, that’s just my opinion… might be wrong, but it was funny when I was down in Aus because it didn't take long to be able to amaze someone in Sydney as a Canadian correctly assuming their place of birth ;)

46. Posted by rhotchkiss (Budding Member 22 posts) 10y

The explanation of Canadian accents is interesting! It's not something I've really heard about before.

I definitely don't have a problem distinguishing between Australian and British accents, or Canadian accents and American accents. When it comes to the different British accents, that's a bit difficult but I guess that is what you're saying...it's hard unless you've heard it awhile. In my opinion, Canadians and Americans have very different accents, but since there is a strong accent where I live, it's more noticeable to me when I speak to a Canadian. I'm sure someone with a Quebecois accent would notice the same thing.

I'm from the southeastern US so as soon as I open my mouth, other Americans know where I'm from (or at least that I'm definitely not midwestern, northeastern, or Californian). I would venture to say that most Canadians would know I'm Southern too.

It will be interesting to see what Europeans think when I move there in the fall. I can keep a tally of American vs. Canadian votes for you guys...

47. Posted by tway (Travel Guru 7273 posts) 10y

I had an interview yesterday with an English writer from the west end of Montreal who claimed I had a French accent when I spoke English. So - just goes to show that the English accents in the same city can differ wildly. Although I don't see how in the world I have an accent...

48. Posted by Isadora (Travel Guru 13926 posts) 10y

Quoting tway

I had an interview yesterday with an English writer from the west end of Montreal who claimed I had a French accent when I spoke English. So - just goes to show that the English accents in the same city can differ wildly. Although I don't see how in the world I have an accent...

You do! I've heard it! But, it would be classified as more of a "classic Canadian" accent than French. (That is, what we Midwesterners hear and consider classic Canadian.)

In Jamaica and Antigua, we were asked frequently if we were from Canada. It seems that if you have a southern drawl of any style - you are automatically from Texas. If you have a midwestern accent - Canada. Oh, the islanders can pick out New Yorkers quite easily too.

There is a large Jamaican population in Canada. Most of the hotel personnel that we met had family living there. Several of the housekeeping staff and restaurant employees would guess Canada in hopes we would say yes. They were looking for someone who would pay their way to Canada so they could be with family and work.

49. Posted by Annju (Budding Member 6 posts) 10y

Being a native french speaker, I can't tell the difference between Canadian and american accents, besides Texan of course. I can identify a "British" accent from scottish or irish (pretty obvious).

Indeed, I'm also a French Canadian and I cannot make the difference between English from Canada and English from USA, unless it is Texan:)

But I really appreciate to read all the comments made about it, because, for once, we are not talking about MY THICK PEASANT ACCENT;)

50. Posted by Peter P. (Budding Member 35 posts) 10y

So are you from Anjou Annju? :) You can't have too much of a "peasant accent" there! I don't know about anyone else but I love the native Québecois accent! Everyone probably knows this but the "Peasant accent" that's being referred to is often called "Jouale", which is actually a reference to how the word "cheval" (horse) sounds in the dialect. In fact, this is quite a stretch - I've never heard anyone say cheval and it sound like jouale, but that's supposed to be where it comes from nonetheless . The funny thing is that it's considered to be real "Québecois" - like what Texas English is to the Queen's. However, in both cases actually - Jouale and Texan - the "bastardized" dialect is MUCH closer to the original language. Just imagine Shakespeare's plays being recited in the globe theatre with a southern drawl! You can really see this though if you go to "la région" in France (the countryside), where the locals' French is a lot like the country side French in Québec.
What's really wierd is the way the urban centres of Francophonie have changed though. First, quite recently in the history of the language, it seems that all urban centre suddenly changed the sound corresponding to the letter "r" almost simultaneously. Across the Atlantic, both sides changed from an r like in spanish to an r like in german... they have no idea why as far as i know, and they can't explain how quickly it spread. Second, although this is less wierd - in Québec you can really see what happens when two languages meet. For example - take a trip - maybe a Montreal vacation to Quebec City, and you can see exactly the variation of the Frnech sue to the English influence along the way (well not in the countryside really). It's really interesting I think. Also - keep going the Atlanic Region and you can find a language in places like New Brunswick that are true half-half English-French dialects. I like to think I'm almost if not completely bilingual, having grown up in Montreal and never having any trouble in either language, but I was once in a conversation with some folks from NB and I couldn't understand half of what they were saying - I loved it! And this isn't regular code-switching between the two languages. It's more like they'll use an English word for something and never use the Frnech word for it or vice versa. (I think I annoyed them with all my questions - or "Je think que je les annoyé avec tout mes questions des words!")

Anyway - hope I haven't offended anyone with this - I love linguistics and especially the languages of Québec and its surrounding areas. It can become a touchy subject though - especially here in Quebec for political reasons. For that, I just want to say that anything I say has *no* political implications or insinuations - it's all totally what I observe from living here.