Archived Discussion

This is discussion archived from a time before the current discussion method was installed.

Looney Toons: First Nations accents aren't actually discussed or described, just the casting of Native Americans...

Chrome Newfie: Work in progress, to be sure. My biggest obstacle is that I'm not a linguist, so there are points where I'm not sure what the right description would be. I thought it was worth noting the casting bit, though. In American programs, I don't think I've seen someone from an aboriginal background cast as anything without putting special focus on their ethnicity. Up here, there's a multiethnic slant to things, so you see more roles where being First Nations (the accepted term up here) is just a part of the character. It might be a little jarring to hear a native accent from someone who isn't about to talk about "his people". But then, what do I know from what others see? ;)

Janitor: Let us put the casting thing off to one side, for a moment. What does the First Nations accent sound like to you.

In the States, it sounds vaguely French — we can guess why. There is also a common construction — "init", for "isn't it" — which has a Gaelic feelin to it... the usage is commonly "That's a fact, init?"

OK, this is all a Korean's view of American conceptions of Canadian First Nations accents. Several removes from reality.

Chrome Newfie: Well, to me, the accent, particularly a strong "rez" (reservation) accent is a bit rough, with less lip action involved in pronunciation. It also has that French-style uptilt to the end of statements, as you observed. Beyond that, describing it is a bit of a qualia for me, I don't have the words to describe what I hear, I just know it when I hear it.

Firvulag: I think, to me, that the "rez" accent sounds slightly rounder than a French accent would be, if that makes any sense. Like Chrome I'm not really certain how to describe it, but I can hear it.

Two other things: One, is it worth putting in some of the more location specific sub accents for the Maratimes? Mostly I'm thinking that the northern New Brunswick accent is far more heavily influenced by French than Scottish while PEI and Nova Scotia, except around the French shore, are the other way. That and the Cape Breton accent, which can be nearly as thick as the Newfie accent. There's a Mc Donalds comercial playing in Quebec right now that has a kid in it with a very pronounced CB accent.

Two, and this is a digression, a little expansion on what I added to the French sections which I didn't feel would really fit well in the main article. "Proper" French from France has some class distinctions sort of built into it. Not nearly as deeply as say Japanese, but still a little bit.

For instance in French the singular "you" is "tu", and the plural "you" is "vous". So if you are talking to one person you would use "tu" and if you're talking to a group you would use "vous". However, to be polite in French you would only use "tu" with someone you are familiar with. Otherwise it's vous, which is technically plural but is used singularly to be polite and/or indicate that the person you are speaking to has a higher social standing than you. I.e. a nobleman is worth more, is more of a person, than a peasant so the peasant would use "vous" when refering to the nobleman and the nobleman would use "tu" when refering to the peasant. Aren't class distinctions fun.

Quebecios French doesn't do this as much except in formal circumstances such as a job interview. This is because most of the French settlers were from the lower classes, and there weren't many nobles around to be sucked up to. They were back in France collecting taxes from the settlers and hanging around the royal court. I may be slightly biased on this subject, but who knows.

Anyway, thus ends the digression.

Chrome Newfie: It might be worth adding in a sentence about the Cape Bretoner brogue being thicker; however, as the entry is primarily an entry to cover how the accents get used, and only secondarily a guide to distinguishing them (similar to the British Accent entry), I don't think we need more than that. Heck, I hesitated on some of the other entries; for most outside Canada, there's Newf/Maritimer, French, maybe Prairies, and "Canadian generic", in terms of usage.

Ununnilium: Gah, my stuff about the formatting change got cut. *fistshake* Don't delete comments, peoples. Anyway, I'm going to change it back but add bold to the names, see how that works.

Chrome Newfie: I saw what you wrote and responded - if you don't get to it before I get home, I'll do it instead, so we're covered.

Janitor: Skyped a friend who is North Dakota "rez" and listened to him. He was aware of my interest in accent, so he might have been "doing it" to a certain extent. Still, it seemed clear to me that the "uptilt" is from the Lakota (his first language), not from French influences. The lip-action thing is def there. Sucker mumbles. It is like the Cowboy thing in American Accents.

Keith: I live in an Inuit community and the accent is very similar to those I've heard in used by other First Nations groups in the north. One of of recognizing it is to recognize the parodies of it, which exaggerate it (much like the stereotypical "Aboot the hoose" for Canadians by Americans). There's the uptilt at the end but also a lengthening of the final vowel if it's an 'a' or an 'o'. So "What are you doing?" sounds like "What are you dooooing?" with the "ing" higher pitched than you'd expect it to be in Newscaster North American English. "He's crazy" sounds like "He's craaaazy."

Random: I was raised Albertan and moved to Nova Scotia in mid-elementary. As the article mentions, the Maritime accent is slower, but there's more to it than that. There are two contradictory vowel shifts in effect, I think; my native western accent has a tendency to drop vowels entirely from nonstressed syllables, especialy finals (Examples: Albertan is "al-BERT-n"; hole is "hol") and sounds abrupt. The eastern accent still sounds funny to me; it sounds like it's adding vowels that aren't there. (Examples: Hole becomes "howel" to my ear, two distinct syllables, and house seems to be "haouse", though this is much more subtle.)

As for Francophone English accents: Whether Quebecois or Acadian, the biggest thing that stands out to me (even before the uplift) is dropped H sounds. Thick becomes tick, hockey is 'ockey, etc. I have minimal exposure to rez accents, but have noticed a much subtler (and less consistent) version of the same thing at play there.

Half of Alberta goes to Great Falls for the weekend. I've seen the lines ... it's insane!

ExocetCom: A note about the history of Quebecois French. Since 2008 more evidence has come out that would indicate to Quebecois French being much closer to the French that was spoken during the 17th century in continental France. Continental French from the 17th or 18th century would likely be more intelligible (accent wise) to a Quebecois Francophone than a modern Parisian French speaker. One hypothesis states that the desire for cultural solidarity and colonial empire-building lead to a trend of preserving the older type of French. In the environment of New France, then Lower Canada and Quebec, introducing new elements to the language would detract from their heritage. However, on continental French developed as any culturally secure language does over time with the process being codified by the creation of institutions devoted to the development of the French language by the French government. Obviously Quebecois French has evolved over the last 400 years, but it would appear that the changes were far less drastic than the evolution experienced by continental French, and the French spoken in La Francophonie.