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Canadian English and Its Unique Historical Features

Linguistic changes occurred in historical migrations and the mass development of new lands. Native North American peoples initially settled the lands of Canada. Nevertheless, lands began to be filled with British and French colonizers, and after the struggle for American independence, many U.S. citizens migrated to Canada (Anderson). This led to the spread of the English language into Canada. Thus, Canadian English is an example of this differentiation of languages with development, where the reinforcement of alien linguistic traditions and the emergence of unique dialects occurred as a result of the settlement of the country. Continuity can be traced through the study of orthography, phonetics, and language grammar. There has also been an enrichment of the language with new words through infiltration into indigenous communities. Finally, Canada’s ethnographic composition influences the dynamics of Canadian English. Thus, the peculiarities of Canada’s history are reflected in the language, the study of which shows the history of the settlement of the territories.

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Canadian English is one of the varieties of the English language. Canadian vocabulary reflects the wide use of the letter “u” in such words as “colour” and “labour,” which is a form of standard British. Meanwhile, most words in Canadian English resemble the American version. Canadians skip the [j] sound in the words “news” or “stew” and utilize the consonant [d] instead of [t], pronouncing words like “pardy” instead of “party” or “bedder” instead of “better” (Collins; Leggett). Like the British, Canadians tend to pronounce the letter [z] as “zed” rather than “zee” in the alphabet (Yarhi). These facts indicate the continuity of Canadian English from the different language families that inhabited the Canadian territories.

The invasion of forms of British and American English into Canadian territory could not go unnoticed by the Native communities. The Native Indians of Canada include the Inuit tribes living on lands even before the migration of Europeans. Filling the alien English language with indigenous lexical forms and meanings understood only by the Inuit has created a new version of the Canadian language. This is evidenced by Canadianisms absent from British and American languages. For example, words such as “muskeg” (swamp) or “longlinerman” (fisherman) are strictly Canadian forms, which gives the language a unique identity (“longlinerman”; Terasmae). It also includes the development of dialects among the various Aboriginal settlements. Such unique syntheses of dialects include the Cree and Algonquin languages (Gallant). Thus, the British and American languages played an essential role in the emergence of Canadian English, but the absorption of new forms came with the cultural invasion.

However, Canadian is a dynamic language, reflecting the country’s ethnographic transformations. Historically, as a result of migrations, Canada is represented mainly by French, British and American settlers who brought their culture (Miletic et al. 6255). English and French are thus spoken by more than 80% of the population (O’Neill). Multiculturalism continues to influence the development of the version of English, shaping its unique form. In addition to the existing heritability from the British and American, Canadian English also incorporates the basics of French phonetics for some French words such as “niche,” “croissant,” and “clique” (Settarova). Moreover, about one in five inhabitants of modern Canada is a migrant, which confirms the plasticity of the Canadian language through the introduction of new constructions (SRD). Thus, Canadian English is not created by integrating Standard English and French alone. On the contrary, migrants who do not speak either of these languages contribute to Canadian English daily.

The unique nature of the development of Canadian English, based on a historical synthesis of alien language forms and local indigenous cultures, must be emphasized. As a result of the gradual settlement of Canadian lands by British, French, and American migrants, English and French have been embedded in local traditions. Canadian English has been shown phonetic continuity, confirming its affiliation with the British and American. Moreover, this language also includes Canadian dialects and Canadianisms characteristic only of local communities. Canada continues to be populated by migrants, and their numbers in the country are actively growing, and they contribute to forming the composite Canadian language. Consequently, a historical and linguistic analysis of the Canadian language can fully reflect the history of its settlement and foreign language adaptation.

Works Cited

Anderson, Connie Wyatt. “Human Settlement in Canada.” The Canadian Encyclopedia, 2020, Web.

Collins, Brain. “Why and When did /t/ and /d/ Become a Flap Consonant in American English? Which Consonant was Affected First?” Quora, Web.

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Gallant, David Joseph. “Indigenous Languages in Canada.” The Canadian Encyclopedia, 2020. Web.

Leggett, Colin. “This Guide To Speaking “Canadian English” Claims We Never Use T’s.” Narcity, Web.

“longlinerman.” Lexico, Web.

Miletic, Filip, Anne Przewozny-Desriaux, and Ludovic Tanguy. “Collecting Tweets to Investigate Regional Variation in Canadian English.” European Language Resources Association, 2020, pp. 6255-6264. Web.

O’Neill, Aaron. “Languages in Canada 2011.” Statista, 2021, Web.

Settarova, M. “Phonological Features of Canadian English.” ConfContact, Web.

SRD. “Immigration in Canada: Statistics & Facts.” Statista, Web.

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Terasmae, J. “Muskeg.” The Canadian Encyclopedia, 2018, Web.

Yarhi, Eli. “Zed.” The Canadian Encyclopedia, 2017, Web.

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