Saturday, September 5, 2009

Differences between Canadian and American English

Many people have difficulty hearing the difference between Canadian and American English, particularly in the case of American English which is not spoken with a notable regional accent such as that of the south, New York or Boston.

The following list of ten words provides a good way to tell a Canadian apart from an American. While it is true that Canadians do not pronounce the words on this list identically, it is likely that their pronunciation will differ from that of an American in many instances if not all. My pronunciation of each word on this list differs from the American pronunciation.

The list of words is the following:

herb
progress
been
mom
lever
buoy
pasta
decal
mobile
sorry

I pronounce the word "herb" with an "h". In American English, the "h" is not pronounced.

In "progress", I pronounce the first syllable the same as the first syllable of "program". I also use this pronunciation for "process" but not for "project". However, many Canadians also pronounce "project" with the first syllable of "program".

For me, the word "been" rhymes with "teen" but many Canadians also use the American pronunciation which rhymes with "tin".

I pronounce "mom" to rhyme with "come" but I have also heard Canadians use the American pronunciation in which it rhymes with "calm".

My pronunciation of "lever" rhymes with "beaver" and not "never" which is the American pronunciaton.

For me, "buoy" sounds identical to "boy" and thus does not rhyme with "Louie" as in American English.

In "pasta", I use the "a" of "cat" in the first syllable and not the "a" of "father". This pronunciation seems to be very common in Canada.

For me "decal" rhymes with "heckle" but in American English it sounds similar to "decaf". It may be that the American pronunciation is relatively common in central Canada.

For me, "mobile" has the same diphthong as in "while" but in American English the final syllable rhymes with "rubble".

In the word "sorry", I use the "o" of "or" but Americans use the "o" of "gone". Other words in which this is the case are "tomorrow" (second syllable), "borrow" and "sorrow" (first syllable).

Canadian and American English share a number of similarities but they are not identical to one another. The list of ten words helps to prove this point.

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