why do Canadians sound British?

Mona   Wed Jul 04, 2007 7:23 pm GMT
Hi, why is that Canadians sound more and more British?
Their newscasters accent is becoming more and more like mid-Atlantic speech of the 30ies and 40ies... with fast and last being pronounced as [fast, last]; dollar as [dQl@r], Don/dawn as [dQn]...

and why is that Canadians prefer using Californian pronunciation when they sing (think Avril Lavigne: ''When Your Gone'' gone [gAn] rather than [gQn] /Q is the vowel of this word in Oxford Canadian Dictionary)...
or when they act? (I would like to hear Pamela Anderson using her native accent ;) )
Mook   Wed Jul 04, 2007 7:28 pm GMT
There is something known as the Canadian shift.

cot and caught merge, and speakers with the shift will round them more.
// -> [a]
/E/ -> []

It is the same shift as found in some speakers throughout the Western US. The California vowel shift also contains those same features.

[A] is easier to sing than [Q] or [O], therefore many speakers regardless of accent use it.
Mook   Wed Jul 04, 2007 7:50 pm GMT
From my observations, in the Western US (if we exclude California), progressive and/or consistent use of this vowel shift seems to be restricted to girls who are about 15-25 years old. Most younger male speakers of the same age group tend to have the shift to a much lesser degree: usually /E/ is not shifted to [] at all, and tend to have it only inconsistently. In certain areas of the Northern part of the West, people with the shift usually combined with consistent Canadian raising of /aI/, whereas others have Canadian raising only inconsistently. Both older speakers and younger ones (0-14) tend not to have it either in the Western US. In Canada, the vowel shift seems to be quite widespread. Even older speakers tend to have it. I've noticed that I can usually tell the difference between a Western US accent (excluding California) and a Canadian accent in older speakers if I hear the CVS used consistently.

I'm slightly amused whenever I hear someone from Canada or California speak that has this vowel shift, if they are older than about 25 and especially if they are male, because it sounds like they are trying to speak like a 15-25 year old girl. It makes them sound younger.
Josh Lalonde   Wed Jul 04, 2007 7:53 pm GMT
I've never observed anything but the first two stages ([A]->[Q], [{]->[a]) of the Canadian Shift from anyone, male or female.
Guest   Wed Jul 04, 2007 7:55 pm GMT
''It is the same shift as found in some speakers throughout the Western US. The California vowel shift also contains those same features. ''

you may be right, but Californian shift is more related to a certain group of people (Valley girl speech)... the merged vowel is almost always [A], not [Q] ...the only word in which [Q] can be heard is MOM... [mAm or mQm]... talk [tQk], God [gQd] is so Valley girl...people don't use [Q] much
Lilly   Wed Jul 04, 2007 8:10 pm GMT
''In Canada, the vowel shift seems to be quite widespread. Even older speakers tend to have it. I've noticed that I can usually tell the difference between a Western US accent (excluding California) and a Canadian accent in older speakers if I hear the CVS used consistently. ''

I'd say that

1. in Canada: Canadian vowel shift is a rule, most people use [Q] as their merged vowel, a ROUNDED back vowel; [A] is an option used by some people [mostly young men 20-40 y.o. from Toronto]

2. in California (and other parts of the WestUS): Californian vowel shift is an option, not a general rule; the merged vowel is [A]; [Q] is used by young females...

[Q] vowel is not used by Californian newscasters...[/A/ is preferred:
Don/Dawn /dAn; very rarely /dQn/]

[Q] vowel is preferred by Canadian newscasters [/A/ is used by some]

even the pronunciation of the word TORONTO can have both /Q/ and /A/...it seems that the /Q/ pronunciation is spreading...

I guess because of this high percentage of /Q/, the accent of many Canadians can be British-sounding...they speak with their mouths closed... ;)
SoLong   Wed Jul 04, 2007 8:58 pm GMT
Hmmm. I've heard a number of British Columbians speak in an almost-British
accent (a bit subdued and not quite consistent). I rather wonder how genuine
it is at times. I suppose it would be though, a put-on would more likely be
exaggerated.
East of Quebec is another matter, of course. I hear definite Celtic strains
from PEI and Nova Scotia along with Newfoundland. It adds life to the language.
Hunt   Wed Jul 04, 2007 9:07 pm GMT
In Ontario alone there is a wide variety of accents, from the Ottawa Valley
(quite similar to the old "Bob and Doug McKenzie" accents) to Torontonians'
infamous pronunciation of their town, "Torawnna," to very nasal London
accent. Northern Ontario, too, has distinct accents, but I am less familiar
with them.
Adam   Wed Jul 04, 2007 9:51 pm GMT
The English-speaking "Canadians" are just Brits who just live in one of Queen Elizabeth II's many Realms.
Adam   Wed Jul 04, 2007 9:54 pm GMT
In one of the other Reams of Queen Elizabeth II - New Zealand - many of them speak with almost Scottish accents.
Josh Lalonde   Wed Jul 04, 2007 11:25 pm GMT
This is ridiculous. Canadians aren't British, and we don't sound like them either. There is little regional variation in Canadian English west of Quebec; London certainly doesn't have a distinct accent from Toronto. The Ottawa Valley is an exception, but this accent is receeding and doesn't really occur in the city itself. Canadians sound like Americans. Sorry if that doesn't fit your vision of Canada, but it's the truth.
Ryan   Wed Jul 04, 2007 11:31 pm GMT
"The English-speaking "Canadians" are just Brits who just live in one of Queen Elizabeth II's many Realms."

Happy Independence Day, Adam. I wonder how much of a poodle your new prime minister will be.
Mook   Thu Jul 05, 2007 3:26 am GMT
>> I've never observed anything but the first two stages ([A]->[Q], [{]->[a]) of the Canadian Shift from anyone, male or female. <<

Interesting. I've heard several speakers that had the /E/->[] shift. Interestingly enough, I know someone that does not seem to have the /{/->[a] stage at all, but consistently pronounces /E/ as []. I've also observed many Californians with this feature.

>> you may be right, but Californian shift is more related to a certain group of people (Valley girl speech)... the merged vowel is almost always [A], not [Q] <<

No. I would say that people without the shift have something closer to [A]. The California shift is actually identical to the Canadian shift, except it includes some additional features such as the fronting and unrounding of the back rounded vowels.

>> 1. in Canada: Canadian vowel shift is a rule, most people use [Q] as their merged vowel, a ROUNDED back vowel; <<

Well, some people don't have the shift throughtout the country.

>> [A] is an option used by some people [mostly young men 20-40 y.o. from Toronto] <<

I would say that [A] is more common in the Western US (excluding CA) than in Canada for male speakers of that age group. Just yesterday I was talking to a man from Toronto (35 years old) on the phone and he had the shift consistently. And like I said this sounds a bit unusual to my ears, as most most speakers in the Western US that are 35 do not have the shift.

>> [Q] vowel is not used by Californian newscasters...[/A/ is preferred:
Don/Dawn /dAn; very rarely /dQn/]

[Q] vowel is preferred by Canadian newscasters [/A/ is used by some] <<

Yeah, I've noticed that too. Most Canadian newscasters seem to have quite a bit more rounded vowel than Californian ones.

>>
I guess because of this high percentage of /Q/, the accent of many Canadians can be British-sounding <<

I suppose it can occasionally sound slightly British, but I would say usually the vowel is not nearly as rounded in Received Pronunciation. And especially since RP has [O:] for CAUGHT, [Q] wouldn't sound all that much like it.

>> Hmmm. I've heard a number of British Columbians speak in an almost-British
accent (a bit subdued and not quite consistent). <<

Yeah they do. They're British expats.

>> There is little regional variation in Canadian English west of Quebec; London certainly doesn't have a distinct accent from Toronto. <<

Yeah, I agree. There is much less regional variation than in other countries.
Brit   Fri Jul 06, 2007 10:46 am GMT
They could be British expats supposedly it is the second most desired country to emigrate to if you are British.
Guest   Fri Jul 06, 2007 10:49 am GMT
Which is the first then?