LINGUIST List 5.1316

Sat 19 Nov 1994

Disc: Canadian-American

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  1. benji wald, Re: 5.1305 Qs: Canadian American, IPA-fonts for DOS, Genre analysis,

Message 1: Re: 5.1305 Qs: Canadian American, IPA-fonts for DOS, Genre analysis,

Date: Thu, 17 Nov 94 18:25 PST
From: benji wald <IBENAWJMVS.OAC.UCLA.EDU>
Subject: Re: 5.1305 Qs: Canadian American, IPA-fonts for DOS, Genre analysis,

It may be of general interest to note some differences between Canadian
and American accents, bearing in mind that both types of accents vary
quite a bit, and that what is characteristic of some parts of Canada
may be characteristic of some parts of the US. For example, one of the
most widespread characteristics of Canadian English is the merger of
short o and long open o, e.g., hock vs. hawk. Although this is also
characteristic of certain areas of the US, they are generally not
 contiguous with the Canadian areas of the merger. Thus, most of the
 US border area with Canada maintains a distinction. This, then, is a
 striking contrast, geographically, between Canada and the adjacent US at
 most points. The stereotypical Canadian feature, for Canadians themselves,
 and for others who know (including those who must have handed the Canadians
 their self-stereotype) is the pronunciation of /aw/ as in "out", "house",
 etc. The nucleus is mid rather than low, so that it sounds something
 like long o as in "oat" as spoken by standard British or Philadelphian
 speakers. Commonalities between Canada and the adjacent US, similar to
 the last mentioned feature, is the raising of the nucleus of /ay/ as in
 "right". This seems to keep getting discussed in the context of causing
 a vowel contrast between "writer" and "rider". The Canadian and Upstate
 NY contrast has to do with height along the center of vowel space, rather
 than along the periphery (central vs. back nucleus) as in New York City.
 Upstate NY at least, though, seems to be distinct in Canada by the more
 extreme raising of the nucleus of /ay/, and it often sound fronted, as if
 like a more widespread American /ey/ sound, as in "eight". Canada
 is more extreme than the adjacent US in its raising (from low
to mid) of the /aw/ nucleus - the stereotype I discussed above.

 I have not seen discussion elsewhere of how Canadian English deals with
short o before r in open syllables. More than most American dialects, it
lengthens and raises them to merge with long o, so that "sorry" rhymes
with "story". This is rare for the words "sorry", "sorrow", "borrow"
and a few others across US dialects, although it is general in r-ful
areas for "forest", "orange" and most such words. In this case, the
adjacent US dialects, e.g., Northern Wisconsin, agree with Canada, so
that there is a continuum, not the striking border distinction observed
for the hock: hawk merger.

That's enough, although I welcome observations on other and more localised
Canadian and border US dialects. As for the British, when they have
an American actor and don't want to make anything out of the fact that
he's American in a film, they call him Canadian -- in order to explain
the accent. Apparently they don't hear the difference -- I guess they
only hear flapped t's, but think Americans have to be stereotyped as
characters, while Canadians have more latitude.
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