Greger   Thu Aug 04, 2005 11:31 am GMT
Americans say they speak American , Canadians say they speak English , why? and is the Canadian english more like The British English than The american?
D   Thu Aug 04, 2005 11:33 am GMT
Actually, most Americans say they speak english, since they do.
David Winters   Thu Aug 04, 2005 11:43 am GMT
>>Americans say they speak American...

90% of the time in jest.
Kirk   Thu Aug 04, 2005 10:38 pm GMT
<<Americans say they speak American , Canadians say they speak English , why? and is the Canadian english more like The British English than The american?>>

Americans don't call the language they speak "American." They call it "English." Both major forms of North American English, Canadian and American English, are dialects of English, just as RP, Estuary, Liverpudlian, Australian, and South African, (just to name a few) etc. are dialects of English. Also, these varieties don't necessarily end at the border. Dialects are more like a contiuum of different features which change according to distance. Whole dialects don't always end at a certain, easily identifiable spot, and the very long, often arbitrary border between the US and Canada is no exception.
Travis   Thu Aug 04, 2005 11:23 pm GMT
The above is part of why I prefer to speak about "North American English" than about "American English" and "Canadian English", because there really are few if any distinct boundaries between American and Canadian English today, while most dialects of both are distinct from English dialects outside of North America. For example, many northern American English dialects, such as my own, today do have degrees of Canadian Raising, whether full (affecting both /aI/ and /aU/) or partial (affecting just /aI/). Hence, it is more useful to speak of North American English as a specific whole, albeit with plenty of its own internal dialectal divisions, rather than arbitrarily dividing it along political boundaries as "American" and "Canadian" English.
Kirk   Fri Aug 05, 2005 1:08 am GMT
I agree with Travis. "North American English" is a more accurate macro group, while you can get more specific by clarifying what area you're talking about. I've known plenty of Americans from Northern US areas who've had what are typically known of as "Canadian" features in their speech (such as Canadian Raising, which Travis mentioned, and is actually a speech feature for a sizable amount of people in the Northern US) and I've also met Canadians who didn't always have speech features stereotypically associated with Canadians. I just found out recently that one girl who I work with is from Ottawa, and she has no Canadian Raising or any features that had stood out as "Canadian" to my ear, so it surprised me to find out she's Canadian.
Trawick   Fri Aug 05, 2005 1:08 pm GMT
There are places where the dialect border between Canada and the US is very strong, and other places where it barely exists. In Upstate New York and Michigan, there is a very strong division between the Cities nearest to southern Ontario, which typically have features of the Northern Cities Vowel Shift, to the Toronto metropolitan area, which is an entirely different dialect of English. From Rochester New York, where the pronunciation of the word "cot" is /kat/, it's only a short ferry ride to Toronto, where many people pronounce it /kOt/.

But other regions are different. In various parts of New England, the combination of an educated background with Northern pronunciations can often sound very Canadian. And out west, I've found very little border seperation--I have a friend from Washington state who's accent is pretty much indistinguishable from a British Columbian, complete with the raised /oU/ and /aU/ sounds.
Travis   Fri Aug 05, 2005 1:23 pm GMT
Trawick, there are points where there is a sharp divide between dialects on the American and Canadian sides of the US-Canada border, but the primary matter is that overall there are few features which are distinctly "American" or "Canadian". For example, Canadian Raising is not really specifically "Canadian" these days, and with your example about Rochester and Toronto, there exist NAE dialects in the US which do merge /O/ and /Q/, rather than the typical American pattern of merging /A/ and /Q/, even though the two forms do form a sharp dialect border in this given case. Hence, it is more useful, as a whole, to consider NAE as being one large dialect continuum than bothering to rather arbitrarily split it along political lines. If anywhere, the only place where splitting it along political lines really makes sense at all is along the Great Lakes from Michigan to upstate New York, which is really only a small section of the entire US-Canada border. And even then, such is probably best considered just sharp dialectal division *within* a certain section of the NAE dialect continuum, rather than as a split between two high level dialect groups, on the same standing as English English and Australian English, which would be called "American English" and "Canadian English".
Uriel   Sat Aug 06, 2005 3:35 am GMT
Put simply, Canadians sound like Americans, but spell like the British.
Kirk   Sat Aug 06, 2005 10:00 pm GMT
<<Put simply, Canadians sound like Americans, but spell like the British.>>

But not necessarily always for either one of those statements :)
Ren   Sun Aug 07, 2005 6:19 am GMT
Well officially they would prefer the British Spellings except some obvious ones like 'ize' or 'zation' they also prefer to say words such as 'trash' or 'sidewalk' over the 'Rubbish' or 'Pavement'
Kirk   Sun Aug 07, 2005 7:24 am GMT
Canadians generally learn both sets of spellings where they differ and usage may vary. Also, as discussed on another thread here before, "-ize/-zation" isn't necessarily an exclusively American spelling, it's also used in British English, as it in fact was the traditional British form (which lives on as the dominant American form, which never adopted the relatively newer "-ise/-sation" style in large numbers), which has largely been replaced by more recent "-ise/-sation." Canadians may use either form but I believe traditional British and current American "-ize/zation" is generally preferred there, as you said. My Canadian cousins say they learn both sets of spellings and are generally free to choose, as long as they're consistent in their writing.
Tom K.   Sun Aug 07, 2005 8:41 pm GMT
Here's a good question: how do Canadians pronounce "lieutenant"?
JJM   Sun Aug 07, 2005 8:55 pm GMT
In the Canadian Forces, it's pronounced "luhftenant" just as it would be pronounced in the British Forces.

Anyone who says "lootenant" in Canada has been watching American war movies.

Of course, we also say "lieut-non" in the "Forces canadiennes."
Travis   Sun Aug 07, 2005 8:56 pm GMT
The general Canadian pronunciation of "lieutenant" is one way in which Canadian dialects of NAE are closer to English English than most dialects of NAE spoken in the US. It's pronounced as if it were spelled "leftenant", which I guess would be something like /lEf"tEnInt/, even though I cannot exactly say how it would be transcribed. This is as opposed to the pronunciation of the word used generally in the US, which at least here would be /lu"tEnInt/ -> [5u."t_hE~:.nI~?].