Written by: Melissa James / Communication / July 3 2017
On this Canadian Long Weekend, I can’t help but think about what makes us Canadian when we communicate. Over 150 years, Canadians have been developing our own manner of collectively communicating which has contributed to our "peaceful" international reputation. What is it about how we communicate as Canadians that makes us seem nice? And how do we explain communicating as a Canadian to non-Canadians? It might be a question on your mind, whether you're new to Canada or whether you're a native Canadian prone to reflecting about what communication (like me).
Top Three Canadianisms
Social Peacekeeping: Canadians are known for being polite, using apologies, and demonstrating agreeableness. An archetypical Canadian communicator will use please, thank you and sorry frequently. We’re quick to apologize for the smallest of transgression and unlike our southern neighbours, we are not concerned with that idea that apologizing implicates us legally. We like to smooth things over. Canadians also demonstrate this even-tempered collective persona in our use of “eh?” which is used at the end of sentences to check in with others for agreement and consensus.
Canadian Words: Although our vocabulary has more similarities to other versions of English than differences, Canadians have words that are unique to our national dialect like toque, double-double, peameal bacon, toboggan and chesterfield. If you really want to sound Canadian, try out this sentence: “After a peameal bacon breakfast, I put on my toque, grabbed my loonies and went to Timmies for a double-double where I passed the house with the chesterfield on the lawn and was almost run over by a teen on a toboggan.”
Canadian Accent(s): Not quite American, not quite British, most Canadian accents lie within an acoustic middle ground. This video shows these within Canada accent differences. The sounds of our Canadian English have been influenced by:
- British and Irish accents, this is especially noticeable in the Maritimes
- Indigenous languages, again especially noticeable in the North
- American (USA) accents, influence starting in urban Ontario and gradually spanning nationally
With this diverse combination of influence, our dynamic accent might have turned out sounding quite strange. But luckily, the Canadian English accent is rated as a neutral sounding accent and interestingly, research has shown that the Canadian accent is one of the easiest accents to understand. Hey, sorry!
Between our words, sounds, and mannerisms, Canadians have carved out a true mosaic of a communication style. I hope this brief introduction to Canadian Communication will get you thinking about how being Canadian has shaped the way you speak and what you say when you do speak.