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  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: August 2011

5 - Variation and change in the phonetics of Canadian English


In Chapter 3, acoustic phonetic data from the Phonetics of Canadian English (PCE) project were used to establish the general phonetic characteristics of Canadian English and to demonstrate how Canadian English differs phonetically from neighboring American dialects. In this chapter, data from the same source will be used to examine phonetic variation within Canadian English. To these will be added data from an allied project, also carried out by the author, called the Phonetics of Montreal English (PME), as well as data from other studies, where these are able to add to the picture that emerges from the author's own research. Methodological details of the PCE project were already presented in Chapter 3 and will therefore not be repeated here; they can also be found in other publications (Boberg 2005a, 2008a). The following discussion will also make reference to many of the phonological and phonetic patterns introduced in Chapter 3, without repeating the basic descriptive information contained in that chapter: for explanations of patterns like the Canadian Shift and Canadian Raising and the phonemic and phonetic transcription of the vowels they involve, readers are referred to Chapter 3.

Regional variation in the phonetics of Canadian English will be discussed below in Section 5.1, while social and ethnic variation and changes in progress will be handled in Sections 5.2, 5.3 and 5.4, respectively. As in Chapter 3, the focus here will be on Standard Canadian English (SCE): essentially, the speech of middle-class people from Vancouver to Halifax.

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