The Differences Between Canadian English & British English

by Jennifer MacPhaden
The dialect you speak depends on the country you reside.

The dialect you speak depends on the country you reside.

Dialect defines the way people in a geographical area speak. It is language that is different from other varieties of the same language by use of grammar, vocabulary, and sound. Canadians and the British both speak English, and yet the way we speak is different in each country.

Canadians Have Language Flexibility

Canadian dialect is directly influenced by the United States because of its close proximity. The truth is, Canadians can spell "colour" with the "u" or without, like "color," as Americans do. Canadians have the choice of spelling the American way or the British way, when creating prose. Canadian English is more flexible than British English, where spelling rules are more rigid. Although Canadians do have some American word spellings in their language, most words follow British word spellings.

Spelling

Although Canada and the United Kingdom are both part of the Commonwealth of Nations, and Canada was once ruled by the British Empire, there does remain some significant differences in the way both countries spell words. Verbs such as, "recognize" and "analyze" end with a "z" in Canada, and in Britain they replace the "z" with an "s" letter, which spells "recognise" and "analyse." Canadians also spell some words the way the French do, such as "centre." This is because French is the second language of Canada, and like the United States, the French culture also has some influence on Canadian dialect.

Vocabulary Meanings

The way Canadians use vocabulary closely mirrors American dialect with some variance. The British essentially have different English words that mean the same thing as Canadian words. There is an exhaustive comparison vocabulary list in the resource section of this article, but some words include: British word "fizzy drink," Canadian word "pop;" and British word "motorway," Canadian word "Highway."

Sound and Accent

The most obvious difference between the way Canadians speak and the way the British speak, is the accent. The British tend to pronounce each word clearly, which makes their speech sound clean, crisp, and "proper," with the exception of the letter "r." The British tend to omit the "r" sound in words, when speaking. Thus if a British person were pronouncing the word "far," it would sound like "Fah." Canadians on the other hand, tend to enunciate their vowels with exaggeration. Vocabulary words like, "color," would be pronounced "Culaur" in Canada, and "Culer" by the British. To summarize this information, round out your "o's" for the Canadian accent, omit the "r's" for the British accent, but crisply enunciate all other letters.

About the Author

Jennifer MacPhaden began writing professionally in 1996 creating legal documents and promotional literature for real estate publications in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. She is currently an Early Childhood Educator with a strong teaching focus on the creation of cognitively enhanced children's stories and curriculum. MacPhaden has a Law Clerk Degree and an Early Childhood Education Degree from Durham College, located in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada.

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