A. Those North Americans south of the 48th parallel stereotype Canadian speech by adding 'eh ' at the end of every sentence, and it is true that citizens of the USA and Anglophone Canada - don't forget that the populous province of Qu�bec is largely French speaking and there are Native American and Inuit speakers spread across large parts of the country - can tell each other apart not only by differences in accent but also by the use of uniquely Canadian words.
Q. What differentiates Canadian and US accents
A. As in every other country in the world there are numerous distinct accents within both the USA and Canada. Most of us will be aware of accents from the southern states of the USA as well that of New York. Canadian accents vary, too. While many speak a 'broadly' American accent, there is a noticeable Gaelic tinge to the accent of Nova Scotia. The most densely populated part of the country, Ontario, has - to untrained ears at least - a particular pronunciation of the 'ou' and 'oa' sounds. Thus house becomes 'hoase', about becomes 'aboat' and a boat becomes 'a boot' (all very approximate renderings).
Q. Do Canadians use American spelling
A. Some do, but standard usage tend to follow the British model, so 'harbour' not 'harbor', 'centre' not 'center'. This of course reflects Britain's direct involvement in Canada's history until very recent times - the Union Jack was the national flag of Canada until the 1960s and the British monarch remains a symbolic executive and appoints a governor-general (albeit on the advice of the Canadian prime minister) - and the continuing close ties between the two countries.
Q. Are any words purely Canadian
A. Most words used in English that originated in Canada tend to be borrowings from either French or one of the Native American languages. 'Igloo' from Inuit, 'mush!' from the French marche! and 'hooch' from an Alaskan tribe, the Hoochinoo, who reputedly made a strong liquor, are some examples. Canadians talk of paying the 'hydro', the electricity bill, and Native Americans are 'First People'.
While any English speaker, wherever they come from, will get by in Canada without the aid of a dictionary, there are distinct traditions that separate Canadian usage and conventions from both the USA and Britain. While the spoken language is closer to US English, the written language is closer to British, reflecting something that Canadians often say of themselves, that Canada has the best of the Old World and the New and is, as a result, something unique.
For more on Canadian English take a look at these
For more on Phrases & Sayings click here
By Simon Smith