Where Does the Canadian Accent Come From?

This post isn’t music-related, but it does have to do with the human voice. Close enough.

Where does the Canadian accent come from? We pronounce words differently than Americans and we’re nowhere near how the British sound. (And please don’t bring up the whole “aboot” thing.) So how do we speak? The BBC tried to find out.

Canada has always faced several obstacles in defining itself to the outside world. For one, it’s a thinly populated country of 35 million all too easily overshadowed by its neighbour, a hugely powerful country of 319 million with economic clout, an enormous film industry and high-quality TV. Then there’s its history, which lacks the grand mythical arc of most other countries. And, more esoterically, there is the conundrum of the Canadian accent: to most people outside of North America, it is almost impossible to distinguish from the typical US accent – to the point that so many foreigners confuse the two when they’re travelling abroad and Canadians feel the need to attach a flag to their backpacks.

But despite some people’s skepticism there is, in fact, a unique Canadian way of speaking and, despite its subtlety, it remains remarkably resilient. Over the last several decades, the increasing interconnectivity of the world has threatened a number of local dialects across the world, but according to Charles Boberg, an associate professor of linguistics at McGill University and the author of The English Language in Canada , the Canadian accent is stubbornly persistent: “Canadian linguistic identity is here to stay on the long term.”

You’ll want to read the rest of the article. Trust me.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

2 thoughts on “Where Does the Canadian Accent Come From?

  • April 10, 2017 at 1:15 pm

    I was hoping the “Valley Girl” form of speech that young women now commonly use would go away, because it drives me up the fricking wall. Instead it has only gotten worse. “OMG, like, how did you find out they were to-geth-errrr?” There is no difference in that form of speech between Americans and Canadians, and strangely it is only women that seem to use it. I don’t know of many men who speak that way, no matter what age group.

    • April 10, 2017 at 8:02 pm

      Oh yes there is. Canadians say “Aboot” etc. Canadians sound similar to Minnesotans though.


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