One Poupoune, Served Hopped

In case you’re wondering where the hell Poupoune is…

She made it back from the Yukon, although she had a close call. (I’ll leave it up to her to tell you the tale one day.) She’s been working a lot in northern New Brunswick for her internship. And the Bar Hopper, who was in Moncton this past weekend, is BACK in Moncton as I’m writing this. That’s obviously cutting into Poupoune’s blogging time. 😉

I’m expecting to see Poupoune next weekend for this big event

The Canadian Accent

My good friend Hiker, a translator who’s rather passionate about language, sent me an e-mail message today explaining how there IS a distinctive Canadian accent. I found his explanation most interesting, and I’m sure he won’t mind that I share it with you here. Wrote Hiker:

Well, my complete lack of desire to dive back into work sent me exploring your blog and the links it contains. After all, I *had* to check out Junior’s photos. Anyway, I landed on the Lomojunkie page and read your little pro-Canadian rant, and it reminded me of a recent article I read about the Canadian accent.

Before I get to that though, I always find it interesting that most Canadians (myself included) don’t hear, like Americans do, the subtleties between “standard” Canadian and American pronunciation. We are so used to American English, we don’t even hear the differences anymore. (E.g., “Sorry”: Canadians say it with a more closed “o” while Americans tend to say it with a more open “a” sound — and I’m not talking about a thick New England drawl here.)

As for “out” and “about,” there is a distinct difference between US and Canadian pronunciation, with the Americans again tending to use a more open vowel sound leaning toward an “ow” sound (think “bow”). Canadian pronunication is a shorter, closed, more clipped vowel. According to what I read, the problem is that this sound is completely foreign to the American ear and it is not a sound that Americans can easily reproduce, so what they “hear” is “aboot” and “oot.” I’m not picking on Americans here. I believe this theory holds true for any sound that is foreign to the listener, whether it be in a foreign language or a dialect of their own language. We associate the new sound to the closest sound that we are familiar with, and that is what we actually hear in our mind. The more subtle the distinction, the more this is true. I guess only after repeated exposure to the new sound would one start to grasp the difference between the two sounds. Think of anglophones trying to pronounce a “u” in French. It often takes a while before they realize there is a big difference between “oo” and “u” and then, even when they think they’ve got it, they often don’t. All part of the brain learning a new vowel sound I guess.

Sorry, but I’ve been a bit obsessed with vowel sounds lately because of my singing lessons. Singing is all on the vowels and they have to be pure. Not too open, not too closed. Just in the right place.

Mind you, I never said that Canadians do not have an accent. Every region has. My quibbles were that there is not a single Canadian accent, and that I never heard a Canadian say “aboot.”

If Hiker’s right, then we’re both right or both wrong, depending on how you look at things. 🙂