There is one thing about all this that most people forget, even Canadians. There is no such thing as a "Canadian accent" or I should say, "the" Canadian accent.
The weird hootings that made up the mockery of the putatively Canadian accent were completely incomprehensible to me when they appeared in the mid 1980s on that silly show...what was it called? Not Wayne's World, but that other stupid thing with the two guys and the beer. Anyway, people all of a sudden started claiming that Canadians all talked this "aboot" business and said "eh", and for the life of me, I could not figure out what they were all blithering about. No one in my entire life had ever spoken that way in my presence.
It was not until many years later that I came to Ontario and began to understand. Most Americans, (and Brits, for that matter) assume that the "Canadian" accent is that of a small pocket of the popuation with whom they are most familiar: to wit, Southwestern Ontario. I had never in my life heard anyone talk like that (the way the "Canadian" accent was suddenly being depicted on American television shows) until I went to Southwestern Ontario... and suddenly it all became clear. The SW Ontario accent is indeed heavily influenced by the Scots who administered the place (Calvinist presbies all, and virulently anti-Catholic, btw).
I have something that is extremely rare: a native Victorian accent. I was raised, as were most of my contemporaries, by first time English immigrants in a colonial town almost completely isolated from the outside world. No one came to Victoria in the 1960s and '70s .... except American tourists up on the ferry from Seattle.
Victoria was a sleepy little place with a lot of old ladies in flowered hats and near-parodic English colonial types, all somehow overlooked by the modern world since circa WWI. I therefore sound "English" to the Canadians, and even some of my English relatives said that I spoke near enough with an English (though not London or Cheshire) accent that they didn't mind.
I also went to live for four years in the Maritimes and have spent some time in northern Quebec and New Brunswick, where even when they are speaking English, you can't tell. In Mirimichi the country people speak with a weird combination of Irish, French and Cree or Algonquin... dear heavens!
I do wish the rest of the world would get their collective heads out of their derriers about Canada. The county is HUGE. English people have no conception of a place that takes a week to drive across (without any overnight breaks). I once calculated the equivalent distance, and it is about that between London and Burma.
The regional differences are equally vast because the different waves of immigrants came and settled in groups in different parts of the country and usually in different centuries.
This idiotic thing with "aboot" and "eh" just infuriates me.
Sunday, January 16, 2011
This irritates me
Dorothy was posting about the reaction of some English and Scots to her Toronto accent, and I tried to post the following as a comment, but for some reason the commbox thing wasn't working.