Differences in Canadian accents

Kira   Wednesday, July 07, 2004, 22:54 GMT
I'm a naturalized Brit, and have always been fascinated with accents. I've only just found this wonderful forum and thought I'd ask you guys a few questions regarding Canadian accents:

How can you tell the difference between the various accents? I've watched all the hockey coverage on NASN and most of the players are Canadian and I listen closely when they're being interviewed. However, I have no idea where in Canada they're from! Their accents all sound indistinguishable to me!

Could you give me a good example of a certain celebrity from, say, Vancouver, and another one from Toronto, and another one from Calgary, prefferable ones with strong regional accents? Are Kenny & Stenny good representatives of the Toronto accent, for example?
Jim   Thursday, July 08, 2004, 05:19 GMT
In Newfoundland & Nova Scotia their accents are quite different to those of the rest of the country.
Clark   Thursday, July 08, 2004, 06:07 GMT
You are a naturalised British person? So, what were you to begin with?
Canuck   Thursday, July 08, 2004, 06:32 GMT
Interesting article on the "loss" of Canadian regional accents:

Canadian actors learn to say 'sarry'

CALGARY - It's voice-over time at a sound studio in Calgary, and the actors are getting into their new roles with their new American accents.

It's not a surprising situation for actor and dialect coach David LeReaney. He's a Canadian giving other Canadians pointers on how to speak — the American way.

His students are actors who find Canadian accents are not very popular in an industry run mostly by Americans, for Americans.

"If you go in and say 'I'm sorry,' they're going to go, 'Get out of here, Canuck!' It's 'sarry', like the garment Indian women wear. It's 'sarry'."

In other examples, Canadian actors are advised to drop the middle "e" in interesting, which makes it 'intristing' or 'inneresting'. 'Again' is pronounced 'agen', not 'agayn'. 'Tuesday' is 'Toosday'. And Z is 'zee', never 'zed'.

Actors learn what's called standard American. No regional accents are allowed.

As Calgary's film industry grows, the need to learn to speak American grows with it. Actors say speaking American doesn't make up for not knowing how to act, but it is another tool to boost their careers.

"It's inevitable I guess," says actor Shaker Paleja. "Whether we like it or not, it's something that Canadian actors will have to get used to."
Criostóir   Thursday, July 08, 2004, 09:22 GMT
This is funny, since I despite my Californian upbringing I went to university in Montreal and picked up a lot of Canadian speech patterns! I now say "sore-y" and "aboot" though it's not really like "boot" - hard to describe, that sound!

Most Canadians sound the same, although as aforementioned people from the Maritimes and Newfoundland have a distinct accent. I find that Quebec Anglophones simply use a lot of French words and phrases - the autoroute instead of the highway, the depanneur for the corner store, Sherbrooke corner Catherine for "at the corner of Sherbrooke and Catherine", and "nine on ten" as opposed to "nine out of ten".
Damian   Thursday, July 08, 2004, 10:19 GMT
I am so sad at the knowledge that Canadians are alllowing themselves to be influenced by Americans!

Canuck... (I love the name!)....I hope this trend is reversed...QUICKLY!

One question: how come Americans are permitted to have this control in Canadian organisations?

It's really terrible that regional accents are "not allowed". That really sounds like "political control" in a so called free society. Where is the individualism? Is everything to be standardised? AND on the American model? I wish the Canadian acting profession had the backbone to resist this unwarranted Americanisation.

I'm sorrry if this rant sounds too political in itself, or anti-American, but Canada is a proud, independent sovereign nation with a character of its own. It just happens to have a powerful neighbour, but I do not see why adopting their accents because it sounds cool. Maybe I don't understand all the commercial background to all this...there are obviously reasons for all this based on just that...commercialism. I am solely interest in language and individuality and not Big Brother tactics.

Sorry. This just got to me. Long live Canada.
Mi5 Mick   Thursday, July 08, 2004, 12:37 GMT
"One question: how come Americans are permitted to have this control in Canadian organisations?"

Money. Canadians want wealth just like any other nation, rich or poor and trade is easy because they're neighbours, they speak the same language and share a similar culture. (except Quebec of course)

Who says they're not permitted their regional accents? If you mean adopting an American accent in acting roles, it makes them more employable - they can compete with American actors for American acting parts. Many Australian actors employ an American accent to get work in films that are set in America requiring American stereotypes.

I think Canada is here to stay even without another Vive le Canada cry :)
mjd   Thursday, July 08, 2004, 18:50 GMT
I agree with Mick. Despite little things that give them away, the Canadian accent is not so radically different from the American one (as much as some might want to believe it is). Little things like the words "out" and "about" tend to give them away, but since there have been so many successful Canadian actors, I don't think it's hindering them that much.

I happened to catch Avril Lavigne last night on David Letterman. I could definitely hear her Canadian accent on some words ("house", "out" etc.) but it obviously isn't hurting her career, right? She's on top of the teeny-bopper charts.
Ed   Thursday, July 08, 2004, 19:01 GMT

sometimes i have trouble with avril's lyrics, but yes, for the most part, her accent is not very different.
Elaine   Thursday, July 08, 2004, 19:27 GMT
Yes, but Avril is in an industry where the way one speaks isn't that important. Otherwise, non-GenAm speakers like Celine Dion and all those hip-hop artists and C&W singers would've been shown out the door.

The Canadian actors that I know of (Michael J. Fox, John Candy, Mike Myers, Dan Ackroyd, Martin Short, Catherine O'Hara, Eric McCormack, etc. -- hey why are so many comedians Canadian?) all speak GenAm and only lapse into the Canadian "out/about" stereotype when they point out their "Canadianness". I believe we've yet to hear of a Canadian actor who's made it big in Hollywood and still speaks with their regional accent, aside from the boys in Kids in the Hall, but do they really that famous?
Elaine   Thursday, July 08, 2004, 19:29 GMT
"but do they really that famous? "

..ARE they really that famous?
mjd   Thursday, July 08, 2004, 20:31 GMT
This doesn't really have much to do with being Canadian. It has to do with the use of the GenAm accent in film. Those with strong Southern drawls or Brooklyn accents have to conform as well.

If I were to go to Hollywood and try to "make it" as an actor, I'm sure I'd have to work on losing some of my Jersey accent.
Ailian   Friday, July 09, 2004, 17:19 GMT
Exactly. In general, Hollywood would want a "standard" accent (possible exception off the top of my mind: Mary Steenburgen, whom I've never heard in anything but her Arkansas twang). I'm sure that even a Boston Brahmin (as few of them as there are, bless their stubborn old hearts) would be forced to change.
Saviour   Sunday, July 11, 2004, 16:51 GMT
The mysterious antimoon cleaner strikes again. I had better post something so that this thread is saved from the sweep.
garans   Tuesday, July 13, 2004, 16:37 GMT
I watched some clips of canadian "Red Green Show" (humor) and some of them were too difficult for me - very compressed style, some merging like

"You got the yAdea" instead of "You got the idea".