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Canada Video Audio Reviews

In the beginning of its colonial history, Canada was dominated by the French. When England gained control over North America in the middle of the eighteenth century, English settlements started to grow and the English language became increasingly prevalent. Although both English and French are Canada’s official languages today, English plays the greater role throughout the country, with the exception of Quebec, which is still predominantly francophone.

Despite Canada’s ties to Great Britain, Canadian English is a clearly North American variety. Its similarity to US English can be explained by the country’s settlement history. The first English-speaking people who settled in Canada came from the British colonies that had already been established in the USA. During the American War of Independence, American loyalists to the British crown also took refuge in Canada.

CanadaBanff, Rocky Mountains
© Christiane Meierkord, 2010

An exception to this is Newfoundland, which was a separate British colony and thus, to this day, has remained linguistically distinct from the rest of Canada. In later settlement periods, there was a strong influx of people coming directly from Britain. This may have led to some British substratum influences on Canadian English, but as more Americanization took place later on, British traces have become scarce in Canadian English.

Although Canadian English is virtually the same as North Midland and Western American English in many respects, there are still some unique Canadian features, which distinguish Canadian English from other native standard varieties of English. In addition to the use of some unique Canadian words which are mostly associated with local culture, flora, and fauna, Canadian English is primarily distinguishable by the pronunciation of its vowels. The most prominent phenomenon is the so-called Canadian Raising, which refers to a particular pronunciation of the pronunciation of the PRICE and MOUTH diphthongs. The first elements, or onset, of these diphthongs are higher than in British Received Pronunciation (RP). Another characteristic of Canadian English is the Canadian Shift, which is a chain shift among the KIT, DRESS and TRAP vowels. The TRAP vowel is produced further back in the oral cavity. The DRESS and KIT vowels are lowered in turn, in a way that pet sounds more like pat and pit sounds like pet.

Reviews of available literature on books dealing with this English variety can be found here

Official government site of Canada

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (TV)

The Toronto Star (Newspaper)

Virgin Radio 95.3 (Radio)



© Christiane Meierkord
and individual reviewers