Saturday, September 21, 2013

My American Dialect

I finally got to take the quiz at Dialect Quiz & Survey. The server is often overloaded and answering the 140 questions takes more than one hour because of the slow server.

My dialect is most like that of Buffalo NY, which is hardly a surprise since it's the closest American city to Toronto. (I grew up in Ottawa but I don't have much of an Ottawa Valley accent.)


22 comments :

  1. But I bet that Prof. Moran says Zed, aboot, and oot.

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    1. how much would you like to bet? Would $1000 (CDN) be okay?

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    2. What is the origin of the "oot/aboot" thing? I can honestly say I have never heard a fellow Canadian use that, except maybe the Newfies sometimes sound a bit like that.

      We do say "eh" a lot, though. That one is true.

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    3. What is the origin of the "oot/aboot" thing?

      A false stereotype based on the "Canadian raising" of the diphthongs /aɪ/ (as in price) and /aʊ/ (as in mouth) before voiceless consonants. The first element of the diphthong is less open than word-finally of before voiced consonants (that is, the vowel qualities are noticeably different in write vs. ride or out vs. cloud), and to a foreign ear -- e.g. to a speaker of US English -- the whole diphthong /aʊ/ before a voiceless sound may be perceived as a possible variety of /uː/ (as in boot).

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    4. P.S. See here: http://www.yorku.ca/twainweb/troberts/raising.html

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    5. Thanks for that, Piotr.

      Try as I might, I can't hear anything unusual in those examples. It just sounds like English as it is correctly spoken. :)

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    6. That's why it takes outsiders to discover interesting things in your native accent. In the first recording, the vowel contrast between knife and knives is quite striking (and similar to what one can hear in Scots). It's certainly measurable. The usual criterion used by linguists to determine if a speaker's accent displays the raising is the difference between the first formants (F1) of the starting point of the diphthong in pairs of words like clout and cloud. If consistently greater than 50 Hz, it indicates raising. Linguistic surveys show that almost 90% of Canadians have it (and the difference is typically 100 Hz or more, well above the conventional threshold):

      http://www.ucalgary.ca/dflynn/files/dflynn/Boberg08.pdf
      and
      http://www.ling.upenn.edu/phono_atlas/Atlas_chapters/Ch15_2nd.rev.pdf
      (map 15.5)

      The "Canadian Raising" is not universal in Canada, and it also occurs in some US accents (parts of New England and of the northern Midwest).

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  2. Recently I read things on accents between Canucks and Yanks.
    They did emphasize We have the same accent as Yankees because we were settled by them first in a war wave and a peace wave of immigration up till the 1830's. Then it switched to a British(Scots, Protestant Irish , some English) immigration.
    However the Brits were absorbed by a more numerous, settled, and superior civilization of the original Yankees and here we are today.
    The true Canadian, not the French Canadian) is 90% northern American in morality and intellect. The other 10% is just from being segregated with a different history since the original settlements.
    I don't see British immigration affected us whatsoever in real identity terms.
    All my relations are from the immigrant Brits but I see myself as entirely a Puritan Yankee with a Canadian history.
    The accent is the dye or DNA evidence for our origins. Not the perception we are from British immigrants like Australians.

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  3. ... I see myself as entirely a Puritan Yankee

    That explains a lot. My Puritan Connecticut ancestors hung witches from trees. I do not relate to them very much.

    I should also point out that you would probably have a great deal of difficulty understanding your Puritan ancestors. Their accents and the way they constructed sentences were unlike anything we hear today.

    Finally, I'd like to remind you, once again, that the Loyalists who settled Canada in the late 1700's were British, not Americans. That's why they left the newly formed USA. They came from all of the original thirteen colonies including New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Georgia. Most of them were NOT Puritans. In fact, there weren't even very many Puritans in New England by the time of the Revolution.

    The accent is the dye or DNA evidence for our origins.

    No it isn't. You need only walk the streets of Toronto to see the wide variety of young people of different ethnic origins who are speaking English with the same Toronto accent. If you could talk to them on the phone you'd never know that their grandparents came from Russia, India, China, or Kenya.

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    1. I understand the first settlers were loyalists. They were the first wave of immigrants. They were a war wave or rather refugees.
      It really was the second wave of peaceful Yankee immigration that did the defining of ontario.
      Even so it was largely northern Yankees and only a minority from southern states etc.
      I understand they were English or british or others in identity of the heart but they were in reality just Yankee people from 150 years of settlement. British in name only. Yankee in mind and heart.
      I don't mean they were puritan, which remember is just a word for modern evangelical or dissenting protestants, in religion.
      I mean in cultural identity. They were the product of puritan english society.

      Yes the accent of toronto etc is the same one but it is just the original yankee accent.
      Everyone was absorbed into it.
      So it is a accurate dye as to our actual origins and identity.
      We really are just a Yankee Northern suburban overflow. We are no more british then Hong Kong people are despite being once a british colony.
      yet its not just the accent but the moral and intellectual origins of who we are.
      As i said i see myself as just a off broadway yankee with a segregated, Canadian, identity.
      Not British or organically created. Just a very northern New York state folk.
      Identity is real and is everything almost.

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    2. Larry, he's all yours. You can have him.

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    3. I understand they were English or british or others in identity of the heart but they were in reality just Yankee people from 150 years of settlement. British in name only. Yankee in mind and heart.

      I'm sure that explains why they left the newly formed United States (Yankee land) and moved to other British colonies like Canada. :-)

      My Loyalist ancestors came from Long Island and New Jersey. They were a mixture of Scottish, English, French Huguenot, Dutch, and former French Canadians.

      I don't mean they were puritan, which remember is just a word for modern evangelical or dissenting protestants, in religion.
      I mean in cultural identity. They were the product of puritan english society.


      A few of the Loyalists were direct descendants of English Puritans who came over in the middle of the 1600s. The vast majority of Loyalists were not.English Puritans in culture or direct descent. Most of them identified with the enlightenment. That was the dominant culture in New England at the time of the revolution.

      Have you noticed that New England is not currently a hotbed of evangelical Christianity?

      Probably not. You're not very good at this "evidence" thingy.

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    4. Not good at all. On the brighter side, he is the happiest that he's been for 20 years (maybe on account of all the YEC's he has talked 'round and saved them from 'defecting'; no that's not it.... it's because of all the heathens who have found salvation through the devastating critiques they have read in Byers' postings on Panda's Thumb and here - it's not in vain after all, Robert)... Being so happy he has decided to now quietly retire from all blogging. His work is done (not).

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  4. I spend the summer in that deep red chunk of New York State (the Adirondack Mountains). Culturally that region is what I imagine the Deep South to be like: a love of country music, car racing, power everything (power tools, power boats, dirt bikes, four-wheelers, etc), Confederate flags, etc., and a lazy style of speech that I think of as Southern. I couldn't load that website and so couldn't look at their methods.

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    1. Any New Yorker who flies a Confederate flag is a damn traitor. I spent 3 years in Ithaca and never saw a Confederate flag.

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    2. You wouldn't see that IN Ithaca, but drive a few miles out of town and you might. That, along with the rusty cars with no wheels, decaying mobile homes, decaying teeth, cheap beer and cigarettes, the raspy voice of the life-long smoker, etc. Very depressing.

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  5. Judging from the deep blue hub in the colour map, it appears that the Appalachians, specifically the Kentucky-Virginia state line, is where Canadians would feel farthest from home in dialect. Maybe most Americans too.

    My first encounter with language difference was when I asked where the pop cooler was in a corner store. I was indignantly told it was the soda cooler.

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    1. I was just there. It wasn't that bad.

      Once in Amarillo, TX I asked someone where I could find the Cadillac Ranch. Take Emerald Boulevard, he says. I drove on...

      It was Amarillo Boulevard.

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    2. I encountered the soda and pop difference in North Carolina. I have some relatives there and when I had said pop a few times my nephew looked at me in a confused way and asked: "What is this pop thing that you keep mentioning?" I also noticed that everyone I heard talking there said "Y'all". When I mentioned that to my nephew, who was 18 at the time, he tried to say just 'you' but nearly choked in trying.

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  6. Many of us do have a map in our mouth!

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  7. My dialect is apparently most similar to the west and east coasts (San Francisco, Sunnyvale, Boston, New York. The central sections of the map are a frigid blue on my map. I'm from the northern regions of the UK.

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