THE CANADIAN VOWEL SHIFT. An article in the Daily Mail led me to an article in McLean’s about a major vowel shift in the Canadian language (called the “Canadian Vowel Shift”). The Daily Mail has something of a scare headline: “IS THE CANADIAN VOICE ABOUT TO DIE? VOWEL SHIFT PHENOMENON COULD KILL DISTINCTIVE ACCENT NORTH OF THE BORDER AND MAKE THEM ALL SOUND CALIFORNIAN.”
Meagan Campbell takes a more measured view in McLean’s, a Canadian magazine. She begins: “Out with ‘oot.’ No more ‘aboot.’ Canada is talking with a New Speak. In a linguistic pivot called the Canadian Vowel Shift, we are pronouncing ‘God’ more like ‘gawd,’ ‘bagel” like “bahgel,’ ‘pillow’ like ‘pellow’….” The change was first discovered in 1995, and has since spread far beyond urban Ontario, where it seems to have originated.
The Daily Mail article, by Kieran Corcoran, notes that the Canadian Vowel Shift is moving in the opposite direction from the Northern City Vowel Shift in the United States, which means that “vowel sounds along the Great Lakes will be even more starkly different to those of Canada”. I have posted several times about the Northern Cities Vowel Shift and posted here that I am proud to be one the 34 million people who are involved in it.