In many languages schools around the world, English students are often taught the difference between British English and American English; but there’s another type of English that shouldn’t be overlooked by any student of English.
Canadians may be the butt of many jokes, and some people even refer to Canada as “America’s Hat,” but there’s a lot more to the country than Justin Bieber and hockey – especially when it comes to the country’s language.
As a matter of fact, not only do Canadians have their own language, they also have their own unique culture and identity that they are fiercely proud of as well.
Canadian-isms every English student should know
Because the Queen of England is also the reigning monarch of Canada, and Canada and America are both geographical neighbours, Canadians have adopted both American and British slang over the years. And although Canadians may sound similar to Americans, the British vocabulary has made a massive impact on the Canadian language throughout the country’s short history.
For example, Canadians use the British form of spelling (like “jewellery” and “colour”), and even use the British metric system (like kilometres, centimetres and degrees Celsius). They also pronounce the letter “Z” like the British (or “zed”), while Americans pronounce the letter as “zee.”
But besides these examples, Canadians use their own vocabulary and slang that may sound unfamiliar to the average American and Brit. For example, instead of using the word “soda” (American) or “soft drink” (British), Canadians refer to drinks like Fanta and Coca-Cola as “pop.” Not only that, while Americans say “bathrooms” and British say “toilets,” Canadians refer to them as “washrooms.”
American English vs. Canadian English: It’s all “aboot” the pronunciation, eh?
It’s quite common for English students to confuse the difference between a Canadian accent and an American accent, but there are certain words Canadians say that make it blatantly obvious they are from the Great White North.
For example, while Americans tend to pronounce their vowels loudly when saying words like “about” and “out,” Canadians tend to pronounce the word more like “a-boot.” The same goes for words like “route” (or “root” in Canadian), and “ocean” (or “ooh-shin”).
Also, while Americans are known for saying “y’all,” Canadians tend to say “you guys” or even “yous” when referring to a group of people; (especially if they live outside of the major cities).
And, most notably, while the Brits tend to finish their sentences and questions with “yeah?,” Canadians tend to complete their sentences with “eh?” – a word that has been the source of many Canadian jokes over the years.
The West is the best?
Because Canada is such a big country (which covers more than 9.985 million km² of land), Canadians from the western provinces (British Columbia or Alberta) sound very different Canadians from the eastern provinces (Ontario or Nova Scotia).
While Canadians from the east tend to sound more Irish or Scottish because of their heritage, Canadians from the west tend to sound more Californian; or, more specifically, like the type of English you hear in Hollywood movies. Because of this, many English students find Canadians from the west much easier to understand.
“Oh, you’re Canadian! Do you speak French?”
Although Canadians are taught French at a very young age, the majority of Canadians speak English, and only English. (Besides the Canadians living in the province Quebec, of course).
Also, because the majority of Canadian teachers outside of Quebec are non-native French speakers, the quality of the French education system outside of Quebec is very low, as the teachers themselves don’t know how to pronounce French words properly.
Because of this, many Canadians have very limited knowledge of French vocabulary and grammar, and may only speak the language once or twice outside of school during their lifetime.
As a matter of fact, chances are a Spaniard can speak French better than the average Canadian!