Canada and Minnesota

Brian   Thu Feb 28, 2008 5:51 am GMT
A few months ago I met a Canadian girl who recently moved to the States and has been living here ever since. She has a very stereotypically Canadian accent. She has full Canadian raising and another distinct feature. She pronounces the O in a very rounded manner and it sounds almost like a monophthong. When she says something like "go out" it sounds pretty amusing to me, to say the least.

I also met a born-and-raised Minnesotan who just recently moved to my state as well, and he talks exactly like the Canadian girl, which I thought was interesting.

Is there a certain name for their pronunciation of O? In what regions of North America is this present?
Guest   Thu Feb 28, 2008 7:08 am GMT
This feature is said to be inherited from the influx of Scandinavian immigrants to North America, as most Scandinavian languages use a very rounded monophthongal long O.

It is most common in parts of Minnesota, North Dakota, Wisconsin, northern Iowa, and Michigan's Upper Peninsula. In Canada, it is found primarily in the Prairies (parts of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba). The very strong, stereotypical examples are often found the further north one travels.

This feature is also found in the Inland North (Chicago, Kenosha, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Buffalo, Syracuse, Rochester, etc.) but it is generally not quite as strong as the examples from the Upper North Central region. In younger people, it seems to be hit or miss, as outside influences have given way to something different with a variety of individuals. It can also be found in parts of the West (Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, etc.), but this seems to be almost restricted to the older generations.

I grew up in the Inland North, and I have this feature. My grandparents came from Sweden, and even though I have never visited my ancestral homeland, I know that I have traces of the accent in my speech. I lived in Minneapolis for a few years, and based on my experiences, it seems to be less pronounced in the larger areas, but you will always find a handful of more Conservative speakers.
Travis   Thu Feb 28, 2008 7:51 am GMT
Note, though, that such is not exclusively Scandinavian at all. For instance, Wisconsin (along with much of the more southern parts of the Midwest) had far more German settlement than Scandinavian settlement as a whole, and yet such is a very clear feature of English dialects in Wisconsin, and such is entirely consistent with having a German substratum (rather than requiring a Scandinavian substratum to be present).
Guest   Sat Mar 08, 2008 5:43 am GMT
Canadian and Californian vowels compared: