I have often heard the pronunciation stereotype for Canadians which states we pronounce the word “about” as “aboot.” But I always wondered where that came from since I certainly had never heard that.

Recently, I came across the following article which backs me up on this. Great clips also, including one of our last infamous mayor!

 

Books half real and half feetCanadian Raising: Nobody says “Aboot”

by Ben Trawick-Smith

A point of clarification: Canadians do not say aboot.

Canadian English features something called Canadian Raising, which basically means that the diphthong in “now” is raised before t, s or other voiceless consonants (i.e. before words like about and house).

What does this mean?  In most Canadian accents, about sounds a bit like American a-boat (IPA əbʌʊt).  I offer these examples of Canadian politicians with this pronunciation (shortly into each clip):

In younger Canadians, I’ve noticed a variation of this which is a bit fronter in the mouth–something like a-beh-oot (IPA əbɛʊt).  But regardless of the pronunciation, nobody in Canada ever says “aboot.”*

So then, what’s the deal with aboot? Where does this mythological pronunciation come from?

One thing I’ve heard is that aboot is a pronunciation in a particular region of Canada: the Atlantic Provinces (Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, etc).  But I have never found a clip of anybody from that area who says aboot.

Read more…

 

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