What kind of accent do you have?

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What kind of accent do you have?



What dialect do you speak? A map of American English

  • December 2 at 10:48 am

Do you pahk the cah in Hahvahd yahd? Do you refer to multiple people as “dey”? Is a jelly doughnut called a “bismark,” or is everything that comes out of a soda fountain called a coke, even if it’s really 7-Up? Do you root for Da Bears?

The way we speak, both the phrases we use and the accents that inflect those phrases, come from our upbringings. And in a nation of more than 300 million people, it’s little wonder that those accents vary widely. More than a decade ago, Robert Delaney, a reference associate at Long Island University, put together this map of the 24 regions of American English:

Dialects and Subdialects of American English in the 48 conterminous states, image copyright Robert Delaney





I have a Maritime accent.



I was born and raised in Canada, from 6th generation (at least) English and Scottish, southern Ontario farm families, then moved on to Toronto

but it was only in my late teens when I began to travel and hitchhike around North America that I was asked about my "accent"

... my what ?!? I have no accent!

... but then, people in California or wherever would explain that of course the way I pronounced "house" (hooose??) or about or route all contained that famous Canadian ou/oo vowel sequence that so amuses some Americans : originally Scottish? northern English?

I even ran into a guy from the upper US South who had studied linguistics, and he guessed that I had a parent from the Ottawa Valley, very distinctive , he said

So, I do have an accent. Thanks for that.



Everyone who listens to me knows I am not from Nova Scotia. Mind you, that has been true of everywhere I have lived as an adult... including when I go back to where I was born and raised and my family has been for over 200 years.

Just about no one ever knows where I am from. A few think I am from the US, but are not sure and have no idea what region.


Mine is all over the place. Canadians have made the most random guesses. (South Africa? Ireland?)


Canadian dialect aboot


My wife is American (from Long Island) and she definitely thinks I have a "Canadian" accent, whatever that is. Whenever I'm in the states, they can tell from my accent that I'm not quite one of them but can't quite put their finger on where I'm from... 


Does she say Long Gisland?


Oh I don't know, but this made me think of how on holidays the CBC announcers invariably screw up the pronounciation of place names when reading the weather (surely that doesn't only happen with prairie names).

Also, that it was really grating to hear Carol Off on As it Happens last night consistently pronouncing "potash" with a hard "T". Jeff got it right. I know we don't own the word, even if it seems like it, but still...




We pronounce it the same way as you in NB.


Serious questions - answer please:

Do you say Van-koo-ver or Van-cue-ver?

Ottawa or Oddawa?

NEW-fnd-land or New-FOUND-lnd or New-fnd-LAND?

Grow-sir-ease or Grow-sure-ease? (Groceries)

CAL-gary or Cal-GAR-y?

Do you fill up your fossil-fuel vehicle with Gas or Gaz?

Finally, I think the most surefire way to distinguish between Canadian accents (almost all of them) and everyone else's English is a phenomenon called "Canadian Raising" (it's the about-aboot thing).



Interesting.  Fact is that Americans usually figure out I'm Canadian within a few minutes of talking to me.  Canadians not so much so.

My mother was a war bride so, until I entered school I had a definite Scots accent.  And I've moved around enough and worked with too many "furriners" (Brits, Yanks, continental Europeans) so my collection of slang and idioms is perhaps best described as eclectic.



Van-koo-ver, Ottawa, New-fnd-lnd, Grow-sure-ease, Cal-gary, Gas


Thanks Caissa. I can't believe how widespread "Grosheries" is - even in the U.S. - no idea where that came from. My family still says "Grosseries".

More about "Canadian raising":

Virtually all USians use approximately the same vowel sound in "rite" and "ride", except maybe some close to the Canadian border. Same for "lout" and "loud".

Canadians, of course, have very distinct sounds in both cases. It's hard to render, but here goes: "ruh-eet" vs. "rah-eed". "luh-oot" vs. "lah-ood".

USians (approximately) say "rah-eet" and "lah-oot". Wish I could do that more clearly...

Anyway, that's the dead giveaway for U.S. vs. Canada in 99% of cases.



Caissa wrote:

Van-koo-ver, Ottawa, New-fnd-lnd, Grow-sure-ease, Cal-gary, Gas

we tend to say MUNT-re-ahl,

while the Americans are closer to the spelling in saying MONT-re-ahl