Accent Reduction Programs: Canadian Prairie Speech
In the first article of our series on Canadian accents, we discussed how linguist Charles Boberg was inspired by the Canadian accents featured in the 2002 movie Fubar to delve deeper into Canadian English. The result of these efforts, a book entitled The English Language in Canada: Status, History and Comparative Analysis, breaks down Canadian speech into six distinct major linguistic groups (British Colombia, the Prairie, Ontario, Quebec (Montreal), the Maritimes, and Newfoundland.)
Canadians have long held that their accent and dialect isn’t as uniform as it is made out to be in the media. This may come as a shock to those doing personal research on the world accents before entering accent reduction programs themselves. Boberg believes the accent in Fubar best exemplifies so called “Prairie English”. Canadians often reveal themselves as being Canadian when they speak because they “raise” the vowels in words with non voiced consonants. Therefore, words like “out” “about”, “house” and “south” take on a distinctive sound.
Other words (that can be worked on in accent reduction programs) that are pronounced differently whether vowels are pronounced as raised or non raised include:
Couch vs. Gouge
Write vs. Ride
Tight vs. Tide
Accent Reduction Programs: Working on “Canadian Raising”
Canadian broadcasters who work in the United States often take recommended accent reduction programs to train themselves not to raise certain vowels. This phenomenon, known as Canadian Raising, is not seen all over the country. A popular word that is commonly used to highlight the differences between a Canadian and American accent is “about”, pronounced as “a-beh-oot”, a pronunciation usually seen in Ontario and eastern Canada. Conversely speakers in western Canada pronounce the ending “ar” sound in words such as “car” and “star”, whereas speakers in Ontario pronounce words ending with an “ar” sound with more direct emphasis on the final syllable. In accent reduction programs, one of the key aspects of reducing the accent is to work on pronunciation of consonants and vowels.
Accent Reduction Programs: Evolving local dialects
After recording the speech of people living in the rural areas of Alberta, Canada for a number of years, Nicole Rosen has concluded there are many sub dialects found in the aforementioned Prairies which have yet to be explored. These dialects include those found in Mormon and Mennonites groups in rural Calgary. Aside from location, one should not overlook the role gender and economic status play in the development of an accent. Women tend to have a more formal speaking style compared to men, while teenagers are among the earliest adopters of slang terms and phrases that eventually become part of the general vernacular. The use of such terms helps define regional dialects and by extension, one’s personal identity. Accent reduction programs are designed to help you maintain your given linguistic identity while also giving you the confidence that you can speak intelligently in formal and informal situations without ever having to feel self conscious about your accent.
Want to learn more about accent reduction programs?
Get started with Accent Pros free accent reduction screening! The screening will rate your accent severity using a 7 point scale: 1 being the most heavy and 7 being very mild. If you’re inclined to take it a step further, check out our various accent reduction programs we have to offer. Accent Pros has an office starter program and online accent reduction programs. Both accent reduction programs have had all clients get a 50% of more accent reduction after 12 sessions-check it out!