Sunday, March 22, 2009

Talking Canadian, eh? It's all about the vowels

BC Ferries to Vancouver Island
BC Ferries en route from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay, Vancouver Island
Photo by Sue Frause

I tuned in to the last half of a fun and informative CBC documentary titled Talking Canadian. Fortunately, it was YouTube to the rescue, where I found the hour-long show in four parts. Here's the first part, along with a description of it from videocanada.ca:
"Why do English-speaking Canadians talk the way we do? Why do we say couch instead of chesterfield, windshield instead of windscreen, and ee-ther and eye-ther, sometimes interchangeably?
Why do Newfoundlanders have a distinctive accent and use colourful words like ballicatter that can't be heard anywhere else? How have French words like portage and prairie, and Native words like chipmunk and toboggan, become part of our everyday speech?
Few of us are aware that the language we speak, the words we use, and the way we say them has less to do with conscious choice than it has to do with our past: when and why we came here, where we settled and the tug of war between British and American influences -- which has been part of our lives for centuries. 
But Talking Canadian is not so much a history lesson as an often-amusing look at our accent, intonation and vocabulary, how Canadians speak today, and how we will talk in the future."