Canadian English

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Introduction

Until fairly recently, Canadian English was a severely understudied national variety of English. Reliable sociolinguistic data of a national scope has been especially hard to come by and, until the mid-1990s, was virtually inexistent. The geographical proximity to the American super power is quite unique to Canadian English and contrasts it with other varieties of English, such as Australian, New Zealand, or UK varieties of English. Combined with a relatively low awareness of Canadian English features (a result of the school system), some commentators, especially outsiders, tend to confuse Canadian English with American dialects. Comparisons of degrees of difference are always relative: while a local East Anglian English speaker may confuse a Torontonian for an American, Canadians usually have little difficulty telling the one from the other. The last ten years in particular have produced significant data on a national scale that allows the characterization of the variety more adequately than before. 

Excerpt taken from the OED blog post, ‘Canadian English’ by Prof Stefan Dollinger, which explores the history and current status and linguistic features of English in Canada 

Canadian English terms recently recorded in the OED

Explore the full list of Canadian English terms most recently added to the OED.

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Additional resources

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World Englishes

  • E.g. Philippine English, Hong Kong English, Ugandan English
  • e.g. bammy, skinship, bunny hug
  • e.g. an informal social gathering, a street vendor
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Canadian English editors and consultants

The OED works in partnership with external experts from or in Canada to ensure that our entries for Canadian English draw from local knowledge and expertise and reflect the everyday reality and distinctive identity of the Canadian English-speaking community.

Canadian English resources: from the OED blog

Many Canadians will have memories of playing the game schlockey at school. Also known as box hockey, schlockey is a schoolyard game played by two people using sticks to push a puck through an open-top box set on the ground which has been divided into compartments to resemble a hockey pitch. On wet days, Canadians may be heard complaining about getting a soaker, which is what they call the experience of getting their feet wet, especially as a result of stepping into a puddle.

Excerpt from ‘The Ontario Dialect Project and Canadian English’ blog post

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