Key to pronunciation: Canadian English

View the pronunciation model for Canadian English here.

The pronunciations given are those in use among educated urban speakers of standard English in Canada. While avoiding strongly regionally or socially marked forms, they are intended to include the most common variants for each word. The keywords given in this key are to be understood as pronounced in such speech.

Words associated with Canada are given British and American pronunciations alongside the Canadian pronunciation(s). Where a word is associated with an additional part of the English-speaking world, further pronunciations in the appropriate global variety of English are also given.

To hear the pronunciation spoken aloud, click the blue play icon to the left of each transcription.

Note from Catherine Sangster, Head of Pronunciations, October 2020

“A small but significant number of our World English pronunciations lack audio at the moment. Audio is created by freelance actor-phoneticians working with our sound engineer in our Oxford recording studio, but for the last several months it has been unsafe for us to run these sessions. We will prioritize addressing this backlog as soon as we can safely get back into our studio.”

Vowels

Canadian English As in…
fleece
i happy
ɪ kit
e dress
æ trap, bath
ɒ lot, cloth, palm, hawk
ɒː paw
ʌ cup
ʊ foot
ɜr nurse
ir here
er square
ʊr
(occ. ɜr)
cure
ɑr start
ɔr force
goose
ə alpha
ei face
ai pride, pry
əi price
au mound, now
ʌu mouse
goat
ɔi choice
ər letter
æ̃ fin de siècle
ɒ̃ bon mot

/ᵻ/ represents free variation between /ɪ/ and /ə/

Two Canadian English vowels (those in pride and mound) are subject to a process called ‘Canadian Raising’, which means that they are pronounced slightly differently before voiceless consonants such as /t/ and /s/ (as shown in the price and mouse examples).

Consonants

Canadian English As in…
b big /bɪɡ/
d dig /dɪɡ/
jet /dʒet/
ð then /ðen/
f fig /fɪɡ/
ɡ get /ɡet/
h head /hed/
j yes /jes/
k kit /kɪt/
l leg /leɡ/
m mud /mʌd/
n net /net/
ŋ thing /θɪŋ/
p pit /pɪt/
r red /red/
s sit /sɪt/
ʃ ship /ʃɪp/
t tip /tɪp/
chip /tʃɪp/
θ thin /θɪn/
v vet /vet/
w win /wɪn/
z zip /zɪp/
ʒ vision /ˈvɪʒ(ə)n/

The consonants l, m, and n can take on the function of a vowel in some unstressed syllables. It should generally be clear when this interpretation is intended, but in cases of potential ambiguity, the consonant symbol may appear with a diacritic, as in the British and U.S. pronunciations. A bracketed /(ə)/ indicates that some speakers may not pronounce the /ə/; in some cases this means the following consonant would take on the function of the vowel (e.g. U.S. saddle /ˈsæd(ə)l/).

After a vowel, Canadian English is similar to U.S. English in that it can have /r/ regardless of the sound which follows, whereas British English retains the /r/ only when it is followed by a vowel. Canadian English would therefore be similar to the U.S. in words such as mar /mɑr/, unlike British /mɑː/.

Between vowels, except at the start of a stressed syllable, Canadian English has /d/ where British English has /t/, similar to U.S. in words such as pitting /ˈpɪdɪŋ/ (rather than British /ˈpɪtɪŋ/). However, in Canadian English this interacts with the ‘Canadian Raising’ discussed above, such that writer and rider would both have /d/ but the vowel would be different (/ˈrəidər/ and /ˈraidər/, respectively).

Stress

The symbol ˈ at the beginning of a syllable indicates that that syllable is pronounced with primary stress. The symbol ˌ at the beginning of a syllable indicates that that syllable is pronounced with secondary stress. The symbol ˈˌ at the beginning of a syllable indicates that that syllable may be pronounced with either primary or secondary stress.