How to Learn a Canadian Accent?

Canadian English is one of the biggest obscurities in the English language. While the Canadians follow the British spellings, their pronunciations are closer to the American English. But here’s the thing: both the Britishers and the Americans find Canadian a confusing accent. This speaks more about the difficulty of learning a Canadian accent than we could mention in words. Luckily for you, this article covers all the tips that can help you learn a Canadian accent in no time!

Practice the Diphthongs

The first thing you would notice in any Canadian’s English is that they pronounce their diphthongs differently. Instead of transitioning from one vowel to another, Canadians usually stress a single syllable vowel sound.

So, if a word has “ue” in it, you would pronounce it as “oo” in a Canadian accent. Keeping this rule in mind, ‘influential becomes ‘infloontial,’ ‘Tuesday’ becomes ‘Toozday,’ and ‘canoe’ becomes ‘canoo.’

Here is an example to understand the concept better: consider the sentence, “Her rent was due on Tuesday.” A Canadian would pronounce it as “Her rent was doo on Toosday.”

Raise the “Ou” Sound

If you have seen the famous TV series South Park, you must assume that the same rule applies to the “ou” diphthongs. But in reality, the Canadians raise the “ou” sound until it resembles the “ao” vowel sound.

So, instead of pronouncing the word ‘out’ as ‘oot,’ you spell it as ‘oat.’ Similarly, ‘count’ becomes ‘ca-ont,’ ‘found’ becomes ‘fa-ond,’ ‘mouth’ becomes ‘ma-oth’ and ‘cloud’ converts to ‘cla-od.”

You can practice this rule by ensuring that your tongue sits higher in the mouth when pronouncing the “ou” sound in a Canadian accent.

Take a look at this sentence for reference: “She found a ball bouncing around the house down the street.” You would deliver this sentence as “She fa-ond a ball ba-oncing aroand the ha-ose da-one the street.”

Don’t Lose the British Essence

As mentioned above, Canadian English compares to British English in many aspects. From spelling ‘color’ as ‘colour’ to using the metric system, the Canadians have a lot in common with the British, including certain pronunciations.

For example, the words’ avenue,’ ‘sew,’ ‘new,’ and ‘drew’ are pronounced in a Canadian accent as ‘aven-yew,’ ‘se-yew,’ ‘ne-yew,’ and ‘dre-yew.’

So, if you were to say “A new shop opened on the Fifth Avenue” in a Canadian accent, the words would come out of your mouth like ‘A ne-yew shop opened on Fifth Aven-yew.”

“Zed,” Or “Zee?”

The Canadian accent may be more comparable to the American English accent, but there are some distinct differences between in two. For example, the Americans pronounce the letter ‘z’ as “zee.” However, the Canadians follow the British pronounce and spell the alphabet as “zed.”

Not that you would be telling every other passerby that you know how to pronounce “z” the Canadian way, but knowing these basic rules for the sake of them shows progress towards learning the Canadian accent.

Pronounce the “Or’s” Correctly

How the Canadians pronounce the “or” sound also greatly distinguishes them from the Americans. In Canada, the people pronounce “or” as “ore.”

Applying this rule to common English words, you would have to pronounce ‘sorry’ as ‘sore-ry,’ tomorrow’ as ‘tomore-row,’ and ‘borrow’ as ‘bore-roww.’ And when the Canadians speak fluently, these words would sound something like ‘soore-ry’ and ‘tomoore-row.’

Notice how these sounds differ from the North American pronunciation ‘sary,’ ‘tomarrow,’ and ‘barrow.’

So, if a Canadian were to say “The foreign immigrant borrowed an orange,” they would say, “The fore-reign immigrant bore-rowed an ore-range.”

Alternatively, people also replace the “or” sound with the “er” sound instead of the “ore” in certain cases. For example, if a Canadian person were to say ‘for example,’ they would speall it as ‘fer example.’

You can practice the second case by repeating these words: ‘alert,’ ‘exert,’ ‘inert,’ and ‘clerk.’

Learn the Canadian “O’s”

Elongating the “O’s”

The Canadians pronounce certain “o” sounds as “aw.” So, for example, if you ask a Canadian about the weather, they would say that it’s ‘hawt’ instead of pronouncing the word as ‘hot.’

In other words, they round their mouths a bit more and elongate their “o” sounds like in ‘raw’ and ‘claw.’

Following this rule, you would pronounce ‘cot’ as ‘caw-ght,’ ‘don’ as ‘dawn,’ and ‘not’ as ‘nawt.’ So, the sentence “She bought ample stock of food for the storm” would be translated as “She bou-ght ample stawlk of food for the stowrm.”

Replace the “O” Sound with the “U” Sound

In alternative scenarios, the Canadians replace the “s” sound in sounds in the sentence with the “u” sound. So, they pronounce ‘mom’ as ‘mum.’ Notice how the Canadian pronunciation relates to the words’ mother’ and ‘sun’ in English.

Flatten the “I’s”

If you have ever talked to a Canadian person, you must have noticed that they flatten their “I’s.” Instead of opening their mouths, they compress their lips when spelling words like ‘like,’ ‘pilot,’ and ‘silent,’ etc.

So, the word ‘like’ converts into ‘la-ike.’ You can practice its pronunciation by saying ‘lake’ with a subtle ‘i’ sound in the middle.

So, if you were to say, “I do not like using knives in the kitchen,” in a Canadian accent, you would say, “I do not la-ike using knai-ves in the kitchen.”

Practice Your “T’s”

They say that the Canadians don’t like “t” – they like coffee. Well, it turns out, sometimes they do like “t” more! For example, it is common for people speaking in a Canadian accent to pronounce the “t” in ‘often.’

However, they replace their “t’s” with “d’s” or “ch’s” or sometimes even ignore them, depending on the case.

“T” Changes into “d.”

The Canadians replace their “t’s” with “d’s” in every word that features the letter in the middle. Here are some examples for your reference:

better – bedder

water – wader

thirty – thirdy

computer – compuder

city – cidy

“T” Changes into “ch”

Whenever the “t” in a sentence gets followed by an “r,” it gets replaced by the “ch” sound in a Canadian accent. You can practice these words if you have trouble replacing your “t’s” with “ch’s:”

trip – chrip

travel – chravel

trousers – chrousers

trampoline – chrampoline

trap – chrap

Ignore Your “T’s”

There is no hard and fast rule as to when the Canadians ignore the “t’s” in words. Some people say that you drop the “t” sound whenever it feels right. Take a look at these examples to get an idea of when to treat the “t” as a silent letter in a Canadian accent:

most – mos

interesting – ineresting

internet – inernet

integrate – inegrate

might – migh

center -cenner

twenty – twenny

Atlantic – Atlanic

Ignore the “G’s”

When speaking in a fluent Canadian English accent, you can ignore some of the “g’s,” especially if they fall at the end of a verb. Here are some examples where you can treat the “g” as silent:

getting – gettin’

kidding – kiddin’

running – runnin’

watching – watchin’

Know What to Do When a Word is Followed by a “You”

When adopting a Canadian accent, you change the sound of a word if there is a “you” present after it. Here are some examples of such contractions:

did you – didju

could you – couldju

but you – bu’chu (remember the “replace the ‘t’ with ‘ch’ rule?)

put you – pu’chu

what are you – wadder you (we replaced the “t” with “d” here)

Other Common Pronunciations

Prominent “I’s”

The Canadians emphasize their “I’s” in several words. On the other hand, Americans usually interchange the “i” and “e” sounds. So, for example, if you are following the Canadian accent, you would pronounce ‘pen’ and ‘pin’ differently.

Prominent “Ee” Sound

The same rule applies to “ee” words. You must have noticed that the Americans produce a faint “I” sound instead of a distinct “ee.” So, ‘agreement’ converts to ‘agriment,’ and ‘feel’ turns into ‘fill.’

On the other hand, the Canadians always elongate the “ee” sounds. So, the words’ peel,’ ‘feel,’ and ‘agree’ are pronounced exactly as they are spelled.

Another excellent example is the word ‘been.’ You might have noticed people following other English accents pronouncing ‘been’ as ‘bin’ in their sentences when speaking fluently. But you will never witness a bonafide Canadian mess with their “ee” sounds.

“Syrup,” Or “See-rup?”

The Canadians elongate the “syr” in ‘syrup’ so it resembles an “ee” instead of an “i” like in ‘stir.’ Thus, they say ‘see-rup’ and not ‘sir-rup.’

What About “Vase?”

Instead of pronouncing the “a’s” like the alphabet is spelled, the Canadians raise the sound in certain words. Following this rule, they rhyme the word ‘vase’ with ‘jar,’ ‘gauze,’ ‘bazaar,’ ‘cigaar,’ and ‘guitar’ instead of ‘chase’ and ‘disgrace.’

So, that makes the pronunciation of ‘bath’ in a Canadian accent ‘baath,’ right? Well, you see, this particular rule doesn’t apply to words like ‘bath’ and ‘path.’ Instead, you would spell the ‘a’ in these words as you do in ‘bat.’

The same rule applies to words like ‘master,’ ‘staff,’ ‘answer,’ and ‘fast.’ We weren’t joking when we said the Canadian accent is weird!

Hearing Is Directly Proportional to Learning

We all have learned a significant chunk of British English from Harry Potter. The same goes for mastering the Canadian accent. Listening to Canadians or watching Canadian movies and series is a great way to grasp the accent.

“The Shipping News,” “One Week,” and “Goin’ Down the Road” are some excellent movies to get started with. If you are more into podcasts, you can try “Canadaland,” “Ottawhat,” “Never Sleeps Network,” and “The English Teacher Melanie Podcast.” The goal is to get started and evolve by the day.

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