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The linguistic situation in Canada; the English language of Canada and its peculiarities.
The population consists of either Anglo-Canadian or French-Canadian descendants with about 34% of the population of British origin, about26% of French origin and also 26% of other European origin. The indigenous American Indian (Amerindian) and Eskimo groups represent only 1/5% of the population. The Canadian Amerindians are distinguished into 7 cultural groups, and the Eskimo tribes.
Canada remains bilingual. The official languages are French and English, as about 61% of the population speak English as their native while 24% speak French. Bilinguality The question of language lead to dissatisfaction on the side of the French-speaking population discriminated against by the English-speaking Canadians resulting in disadvantages as regards occupational aspects. The French-speaking Canadians felt like “second-class citizens” due to the predominance of the English language. In 1963, the “Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism” was arranged by Prime Minister Lester Pearson. This commission had the task to find a balanced situation for both cultures. The results of the B&B-commission have been published in a report since 1967 forming the basis of the “Official Languages Act” in 1969. The legislation of bilingualism stipulated that English and French had to be accepted as equal official languages, authorities had to become bilingual step by step and to enlarge the language education. The situation of 1996 illustrates the distribution of English and French in Canada: 84 % of Canada’s population claimed a knowledge of English, while only 14 % were exclusively French speakers with only 2 % knowing neither official language. Remarkably 97 % of those speaking French live in Québec.
Modern Canadian English is very similar to the English spoken in the rest of North America and for people outside the region it is often very hard to make out any differences between both varieties. Following Crystal, there exist two reasons for the similarity between both varieties: on the one hand, it might always have been there, with early Canadian English deriving from the same kind of mixture of British English dialects as that which produced the original New England speech and on the other hand, the similarity might have emerged through force of numbers, with the dialects of the many 19th-century American immigrants swamping what may have been a more distinctive variety. The English language of Canada and its peculiarities.
The term "Canadian English" is first attested in a speech by the Reverend A. Constable Geikie in an address to the Canadian Institute in 1857. Geikie, a Scottish-born Canadian, reflected the Anglocentric attitude that would be prevalent in Canada for the next hundred years when he referred to the language as "a corrupt dialect", in comparison to what he considered the proper English spoken by immigrants from Britain. Canadian English is the product of four waves of immigration and settlement over a period of almost two centuries. The first large wave of permanent English-speaking settlement in Canada, and linguistically the most important, was the influx of Loyalists fleeing the American Revolution, chiefly from the Mid-Atlantic States – as such, Canadian English is believed by some scholars to have derived from northern American English.
The historical development of Canadian English is underexplored, but recent studies suggest that Canadian English has been developing features of its own since the early 19th century , while recent studies have shown the emergence of Canadian English features. The second wave from Britain and Ireland was encouraged to settle in Canada after the War of 1812 by the governors of Canada, who were worried about anti-English sentiment among its citizens. Waves of immigration from around the globe peaking in 1910 and 1960 had a lesser influence, but they did make Canada a multicultural country, ready to accept linguistic change from around the world during the current period of globalization.
Spelling Canadian spelling of the English language combines British and American conventions. French-derived words that in American English end with -or and -er, such as color or center, retain British spellings (colour and centre). While the United States uses the Anglo-French spelling defense and offense (noun), Canadians use the British spellings defence and offence. (Note that defensive and offensive are universal.) In other cases, Canadians and Americans differ from British spelling, such as in the case of nouns like curb and tire, which in British English are spelled kerb and tyre. (See below for an explanation of the Canadian spelling of tire.) Words such as realize and paralyze are usually spelled with -ize or -yze rather than -ise or -yse. (The etymological convention that verbs derived from Greek roots are spelled with -ize and those from Latin with -ise is preserved in that practice). Some nouns take -ice while matching verbs take -ise – for example, practice is a noun and practise is a verb; in addition, licence is a noun and license is a verb. (Note that advice and advise are universal.) Canadian spelling sometimes retains the British practice of doubling consonants when adding suffixes to words even when the final syllable (before the suffix) is not stressed. Compare Canadian (and British) travelled, counselling, and controllable (always doubled in British, more often than not in Canadian) to American traveled, counseling, and controllable (only doubled when stressed). (Both Canadian and British English use balloted and profiting).
Pronunciation Although there is no single linguistic definition that includes Canada as a whole, a fairly homogenous dialect exists in Western and Central Canada. William Labov identifies an inland region that concentrates all of the defining features of the dialect centred on the Prairies, with periphery areas with more variable patterns including the metropolitan areas of Vancouver and Toronto. The Canadian Shift is found throughout Canada except for the Atlantic Provinces. Canadian raising has a wider range, and includes some parts of Atlantic, but many Canadians do not possess this feature, and defining the dialect by this would exclude parts of Atlantic Canada and include some adjacent portions of the US.
Except for the Canadian Shift of the short front vowels, the phonology of the English spoken in Western and Central Canada is identical to that of the English spoken adjacent regions in the US. The Canadian Shift is not found in the US, except for a few speakers in the far West. The island of Newfoundland has its own distinctive dialect of English known as Newfoundland English (often referred to as ‘Newfie’) while many in the other Maritime provinces – Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island – have an accent that sounds more like Scottish English and, in some places, Irish English than General American. There is also some French influence in pronunciation for some English-speaking Canadians who live near, and especially work with, French-Canadians. Labov considers Northern Canada to be a dialect region in formation.
The pronunciation of certain words has both American and British influence; some pronunciations are more distinctively Canadian. The name of the letter Z is normally the Anglo-European (and French) zed; the American zee is less common in Canada, and it is often stigmatized, though the latter is not uncommon, especially among younger Canadians. In the words adult and composite – the emphasis is usually on the first syllable, as in Britain. Canadians side with the British on the pronunciation of shone /ʃɒn/, often lever /ˈliːvər/, and several other words; been is pronounced by many speakers as /biːn/ rather than/bɪn/; as in Southern England, either and neither are more commonly /ˈaɪðər/ and /ˈnaɪðər/, respectively. Schedule can sometimes be /ˈʃɛdʒuːl/; process, progress, and project are sometimes pronounced /ˈproʊsɛs/, /ˈproʊɡrɛs/, and /ˈproʊdʒɛkt/; leisure is often /ˈlɛʒər/, harassmentis sometimes /ˈhærəsmənt/. Again and against are often pronounced /əˈɡeɪn(st)/ rather than /əˈɡɛn(st)/. The stressed vowel of words such as borrow, sorry or tomorrow is /ɔɹ/ rather than /ɑɹ/. Words like semi, anti, and multi tend to be pronounced /ˈsɛmi/, /ˈænti/, and /ˈmʌlti/ rather than /ˈsɛmaɪ/, /ˈæntaɪ/, and /ˈmʌltaɪ/.
Loanwords that have a low central vowel in their language of origin, such as llama, pasta, and pyjamas, as well as place names like Gaza, tend to have /æ/ rather than /ɑ/(which is the same as /ɒ/ due to the father–bother merger, see below); this also applies to older loans like drama or Apache. The word khaki is sometimes pronounced /ˈkɑrki/, the preferred pronunciation of the Canadian Army during the Second World War. Pecan is usually /ˈpiːkæn/ or /piːˈkæn/, as opposed to /pɨˈkɑːn/, more common in the US. The most common pronunciation of vase is /veɪz/. Words of French origin, such as clique and niche are pronounced more like they would be in French, so /kliːk/ rather than /klɪk/, /niːʃ/ rather than /nɪtʃ/. The word syrup is commonly pronounced /ˈsirəp/ or /ˈsɝ.əp/. The word premier "leader of a provincial or territorial government" is commonly pronounced /ˈprimjər/, with /ˈprɛmjɛər/ and /ˈprimjɛər/ being rare variants. Many Canadians pronounce asphalt as "ash-falt" /ˈæʃfɒlt/.This pronunciation is also common in Australian English, but not in General American English or British English. Some Canadians pronounce predecessor as /ˈpriːdəsɛsər/
Grammar When writing, Canadians will start a sentence with As well, in the sense of "in addition"; this construction is a Canadianism. Canadian, Australian and British English share idioms like in hospital and at university,although "in the hospital" is also commonly heard. In American English, the definite article is mandatory in both cases. (However, in most situations where English speakers outside the U.S. use the phrase to university, American English speakers instead use the phrase to college, with no article required.) In speech and in writing, Canadian English speakers permit (and often use) a transitive form for some past tense verbs where only an intransitive form is permitted in other dialects. Examples include: "finished something" (rather than "finished with something"), "done something" (rather than "done with something"), "graduated university" (rather than "graduated from university").
Vocabulary Where Canadian English shares vocabulary with other English dialects, it tends to share most with American English. Many terms are shared with Britain, but not with the majority of American speakers. In some cases British and the American terms coexist in Canadian English to various extents; a classic example is holiday, often used interchangeably with vacation, distinguishing the two between a trip elsewhere and general time off work respectively. In addition, the vocabulary of Canadian English also features words that are seldom (if ever) found elsewhere. A good resource for these and other words is the Dictionary of Canadianisms on Historical Principles (Avis and others. 1967), which is currently being revised at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver. As a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, Canada shares many items of institutional terminology and professional designations with the countries of the former British Empire – for example, constable, for a police officer of the lowest rank, and chartered accountant.
Canadianisms Double-double: a cup of coffee with two measures of cream and two of sugar, most commonly associated with the Tim Hortons chain of coffee shops. Mickey: a 375 mL (12.7 US fl oz; 13.2 imp fl oz) bottle of hard liquor (informally called a pint in the Maritimes and the United States). In Newfoundland, this is almost exclusively referred to as a "flask". Two-six, twenty-sixer, twixer: a 750 mL (25 US fl oz; 26 imp fl oz) bottle of hard liquor (called a quart in the Maritimes). The word handle is less common. Similarly, a 1.14 L (39 US fl oz; 40 imp fl oz) bottle of hard liquor is known as a forty and a 1.75 L (59 US fl oz; 62 imp fl oz) bottle is known as a sixty or half gallon in Nova Scotia. Two-four: a case of 24 beers, also known as a case in Eastern Canada, or a flat in Western Canada (referencing that cans of beer are often sold in packages of six, with four packages to a flat box for shipping and stacking purposes). Six-pack, half-sack, half-case, or poverty-pack: a case of six beers Poutine: a snack of french fries topped with cheese curds and hot gravy. Cheezies: cheese puffs. The name is a genericized trademark based on a brand of crunchy cheese snack sold in Canada. Freezies: A frozen flavoured sugar water snack common worldwide, but known by this name exclusively in Canada. Dainty: a fancy cookie, pastry, or square served at a social event (usually plural). Used in western Canada.
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