Canadian vs. American English

Hello, guys. How’s it hangin’ eh?

I was always a little bit curious about the fact that canadian an american pronunciations sound, at least for me, a lot similar. And in my case i’ve been studying English basicaly listening to Steve’s videos so the accent I listen the most is canadian, but I no longer pronounce things differently from what my friends who listen basicaly to american songs and movies do.
So what do you think or feel about canadian and american pronunciation?

I watched this movie today and that helped me, but I want to listen from you guys what do you think about that difference.
For exemple: If you’re american and you listen someone talink canadian, what do you feel? There is some prejudice?
And if you’re canadian, what do you feel when you see someone speaking american down the street?

I’m very curious about this fact, so I’m looking for your answer.

The movie:

1 Like

I’m not a native, so take this with a grain of salt, but I have to listen in very carefully to try and spot a Canadian accent. To me it’s pretty much indiscernible from an American accent. The only way for me to spot a Canadian is to have him or her write a few choice words down. :wink:

1 Like

I’m Canadian and I can’t tell the difference…^^
Americans will always make fun of us for the word “about” (which is “a-boat”, not “a-boot”), but other than that…

I thought the movie was very interesting. Thanks!

1 Like

I can usually tell the difference, even when the American is speaking the most common form of American English A New York or New England or Southern accent is even easier to identify. “Out and about”, or “eh” instead of “huh” are part of if, but there are other elements that are hard to describe. I just hear it, most of the time, but not always.

They’re similar but there are certain areas that give the person away more so than other areas such as Texas, Alabama, Utah, New jersey for example and for Canada the east cost has the most distinct accent.

To my ear, a Canadian accent is very similar to an upper Midwest American accent, as you might hear in places like Wisconsin and Minnesota. But the differences are far more subtle than in British or Australian English, or even the more noticeable American regional accents. No, I wouldn’t say that there’s any particular prejudice against Canadian accents.

1 Like

“out and about in the house, eh?” will decide it

1 Like

The only differences I hear in Canadian English, to my Midwest American ear, are in a few words.

Particularly words like “out”, “about”, and “house”. Each of these words in American English have the same vowel sound as in the word “sound” or “how”. But in Canadian English they have a long O sound, making “out” sound like “oat”, and “about” sound like “a boat”.

I’ve also noticed words like “process” are pronounced with a long O as in “pro”, like proh-ses, similar to the British pronunciation, whereas I pronounce this word with a short O as in “hot”, like pros-es.

There may be a few more examples, but overall, unless these words pop up in speech I can’t really tell someone is Canadian. Their accent is indistinguishable from my own otherwise.

1 Like

I lived up in Fargo, North Dakota, right on the state border with Minnesota for one year. They have a very distinct accent too. Watch the movie or TV series “Fargo” and you’ll hear it. It’s not like Canadian or the most common American accent you normally hear on TV.

I’m from central Illinois. Our accent is indistinguishable form the Canadian accent, with exception of a few words that I mentioned in a post below.

1 Like

I’m a native, but a Scottish English speaker. I can’t tell the difference between Americans and Canadians except from Quebecers speaking English.

We do? You mean, like, the Maritimes too, not just Newfoundland?
I’ve heard people say that before, but I caaaaaan’t distinguish specific Canadian accents (okay, other than Newfoundland and Quebec).
Where in Canada are you from?

I am American. I know a Canadian accent when I hear one. I met a fellow tourist last month when I was in Chicago. He spoke one sentence, and I said to him “So what part of Canada are you from”? He was completely surprised that I had picked up his accent. Most Americans have no idea that Canadians speak ever so slightly differently than we do. I hear it in words like Butter and Lengthy. For Americans, it’s Budder, with the two syllables running into each other in a sloppy way. For Canadians, they pronounce that T in the middle of Butter very precisely. Buh-ttter. Two very distinct syllables. As for Lengthy, that leading L is a lilting L that rolls off the tongue. Live, Longer, Leader. If a Canadian says any word beginning with L, I generally will know right away they are Canadian and not from the US because they really curl the tongue to make that L sound. Not so in the states, not for most of the speakers. Canadians hold some of their vowels longer than we do, for example, the word ACCENT, they will linger longer on the ACC part of that word. And BACK. They will linger on that A in BACK.

There is no prejudice from Americans towards Canadians. We just think they are cute because they are so overly polite all the time. Most Americans are clueless about all this, and they have absolutely no idea that the Canadian accents are any different from the accents in the US. In fact, many of our newscasters, and other television personalities are from Canada. Americans will watch those people for years and years (Peter Jennings, Ashleigh Banfield) and then be shocked to learn those personalities had grown up in Canada.

Do not worry about the accent. For all intents and purposes there is no difference. Only language nerds such as those of us who hang out at LingQ would ever pick it up. I can’t watch the whole movie right now, but I watched the first few minutes. When the announcer says ""We’re talking Canadian, I hear the Canadian accent loud and clear in each one of those words. But again, most Americans would not hear it at all.

1 Like

People in Nova Scotia and PEI also have a somewhat different accent, not quite Newfie, but different from the rest of Canada. I also find people in Southern Ontario can sound a little more American at times.

You are absolutely right. I can tell a Canadian most of the time. It is as if the words are pronounced in a more clipped and precise way, whereas the Americans, even those speaking the most standard American, are more relaxed in their speech, the words are pronounced in a looser way somehow. Not to speak of the many Americans who say “tin” instead of “ten”, “minny” instead of “many” etc… If you listen to A J Hoge, of effortless English, who speaks very clearly and has what I would call a standard neutral American accent, and then listen to me, you will hear the difference. There are also further differences in Canada. There is a Vancouver or Western Canadian way of speech that is different from my Eastern Canadian, or Quebec Anglo speech, but there we are splitting hairs. There is also a distinct Ottawa Valley accent. There may be more.
Of course, now we have young people saying “like” every three words and end every phrase with a raised intonation, all of which grates on my ears.

1 Like

I’m American and I can tell a Canadian accent as soon as I hear it. Even though there are only slight differences, its always easy for me to tell a Canadian accent right off the bat. And yes, I get this fuzzy little feeling inside when I hear one. I’m not sure why, but I just know it’s different from an American accent, and that makes me feel fuzzy.

I agree with the consensus in the posts; the difference in the Canadian and American accents is distinguishable, but not any more so than the difference between American regional accents. In fact, sometimes I have difficulty understanding some American accents, but I’ve never had a problem understanding a Canadian.

As far as prejudice when I hear the Canadian accent, I think Canadians have a reputation in America as generally being friendly, polite people (and they generally are!). When I hear the Canadian accent, my emotional reaction is always positive.

As a non-native speaker, I can’t barely tell the difference between the two accents and I used to hear that it was very vague even for natives (as you all reforced here).
I was always very interested in this point. But what peaked my interest last week was when I was watching a youtube video from Luca, in which he talks about his american-like accent. So someone in the comments said “Not to give him shit, but the accent is Canadian not really American”. Then I thought "is there this kind of difference to the point someone would say a foreigner are not speaking like an american but like a canadian?
But I think now that all the discussion in this thread helped me understand that.

I have to agree about Luca’s accent. He hits his R’s too hard to sound American. But it really doesn’t matter - as a non-native speaker his English is excellent.

Lucca’s pronunciation in English is excellent, flawless, natural, comfortable for a native speaker to listen to and near native, but not native, and not Canadian.

1 Like