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WootBot


quality posts: 17 Private Messages WootBot

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Since it's July, we're celebrating North America's most important patriotic holiday. Put that watermelon on ice and stock up on fireworks, because Canada Day is here! July 1 celebrates the Constitution Act of 1867 that unified Canada into a single dominion—but have American really studied up on our neighbor to the north, or do we take its many accomplishments for granted? Jeopardy!'s Ken Jennings is not Canadian, but he does live just two hours from the border, and is very pale and polite. All month, he's going to be correcting our counterfactual Canadian conjectures, eh?

Do Canadians Say "Oot" and "Aboot"?

The most common stereotype of Canadian English to American ears, after the omnipresent "eh?", is the idea that Canadians pronounce "out" and "about" with a long 'u' sound. "Let's go oot and get some Tim Hortons, eh? How aboot that?" Even the BBC [http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20150820-why-is-canadian-english-unique] props up this notion, but I always thought it was crazy when I heard it from the mouths of American impressionists. I grew up on a strict diet of Degrassi, and I knew those kids were actually saying something more like "aboat." "Soh-rry, we're just going to hang aboat the hoase."

Canada

"To American ears, the Canadian pronunciation of about often sounds like aboot," writes Ontario linguistics professor Taylor Roberts, "but this is only an illusion." There are a few varieties of English that turn the "ou" sound into "oo," most notably the one spoken by Scottish Highlanders and Scrooge McDuck, but Canadians don't do it. Their dominant accent—which is pretty standard nationwide—is a variant of English influenced both by indigenous speakers and by waves of immigration from Britain and America.

Canadian English's most distinctive feature is a vowel shift called the "Canadian Raising." Our "ow" sound is a diphthong—a combination of two vowels. When Americans say "out," we're combining a short 'a', like in "man," and then a long 'u', like "boot." Canadians pronounce both vowels differently, with the tongue slightly higher in the mouth, to produce two sounds that we don't have in American English. The second vowel sound is closer to an "uh" or an "oh" than our "oo." The result sounds more like "oat" than "oot"—though it's really a combination of two vowels that are both pretty hard to pin down.

Bottom line: our version of "aboat" actually has a stronger "oo" than the Canadian one does, so its time to let this scurrilous stereotype die. I don't know how it got started, anyway. I've been watching Bob and Doug McKenzie sketches all morning, and they never said "aboot."

Quick Quiz: Toronto FC's Dwayne De Rosario was the only Canadian ever to receive what organization's "Golden Boot" award?

Ken Jennings is the author of eleven books, most recently his Junior Genius Guides, Because I Said So!, and Maphead. He's also the proud owner of an underwhelming Bag o' Crap. Follow him at ken-jennings.com or on Twitter as @KenJennings.

olcubmaster


quality posts: 33 Private Messages olcubmaster

He won the MLS Golden Boot award in 2011 playing for my hometown team, D.C. United.

Not to be confused with the Golden Boot awarded by the Motion Picture & Television Fund honoring notable contributions to Western genre in film and television.

How aboot that, eh?

Sugar 'em up and send 'em home

xvolution


quality posts: 30 Private Messages xvolution

I have a few Canadian friends that I talk with often and they say "out" and "about" properly, at least from what I can hear. They do have a French accent, so I can see why the pronunciations of those would sound off to others.

daveinwarshington


quality posts: 97 Private Messages daveinwarshington

It's aboot time that someone spoke oot aboot those silly Canadians, eh?

cainemarko


quality posts: 3 Private Messages cainemarko

I truly think "aboot" was intended to be a humorous take on the actual "aboat". Just an exaggeration for comedic purposes. My Canadian coworker definitely says "oat" and "aboat". As does her husband. Nothing wrong with it, vive la difference! But I think some people are taking the joke a bit too seriously. Ken included.

pvjjh


quality posts: 0 Private Messages pvjjh

Ya suree, yaa betchya da dooo. Eh??

krychek67


quality posts: 5 Private Messages krychek67

Seems like Toronto FC could have really used Dwayne De Rosario on July 1st. :-D

qazxswe


quality posts: 13 Private Messages qazxswe
daveinwarshington wrote:It's aboot time that someone spoke oot aboot those silly Canadians, eh?



Isn't that why we have [redacted]?

(Although I prefer to make random wood jokes.)

🐧Too cool to have a signature.🐧

garfield43


quality posts: 0 Private Messages garfield43

Know that I hear it
"Oat and aboat"
sounds much closer than "oot and aboot".

Now I guess the question is no longer "How would a Canadian say 'About a boot' but how would one say "About a boat" .
Likewise going out for a oat would be problematic but no one does that so I guess we are ok.

You should have worked Red Green,The Guess Who and Rush in to this some how.

hacknartie45


quality posts: 0 Private Messages hacknartie45

Us Wisconsinites and da UP talk the same way. Noo, holy wah, eh! Proud Green Bay born and raised!

Patricia Anderson

curtw4


quality posts: 7 Private Messages curtw4

This article is full of crap. There's a decade's worth of a Canadian-imported ABC Evening News anchorman saying "aboot" every damn night! Just check the tapes.

Wait a minute. Ken Jennings. Peter Jennings. I smell a conspiracy. Fake news!

sh90706


quality posts: 6 Private Messages sh90706

Well, I get all my info from the documentary movies, "Strange Brew" and "Canadian Bacon". So take off, hoser! Eh..