From One Canuck to another Canuck: I stand on guard for thee
Draft ©Dane Jurcic 2003
Time and again we Canadians are forced to defend our right to assert that we speak our own language, Canadian English. Due to a lack of linguistic evidence which is the result of a lack of passion in the past to study the language spoken within the boundaries of Canada, the history of Canadian English is subject to many possible theories as to how Canadian English developed. Of course, because the history of our language is not written in stone, per se, there have been those, even amongst us, who have claimed that there is no such thing as Canadian English. Some neighbouring linguists say we should admit "that Canadian English is like American English chiefly because it is American English". To rationalise and convince us of this so called matter of fact, they point out that it cannot be otherwise because "the origins" of Canadian English "are to be found in the eighteenth-century speech brought to Canada by the United Empire Loyalists who fled the thirteen colonies following the Revolutionary War" (Speaking Canadian English 48). The latter is a ridiculous and displaced interpretation of the history of Canadian English made by an American Linguist, Morton W. Bloomfield, in 1948. Nonetheless, it has found support, albeit in slightly different forms, even amongst some Canadians. I am reminded of an article entitled "The Myth of Canadian English" written by Jaan Lilles. Lilles not only argued that "Canadian English" does not exist but that arguing the opposite "can and does result in negative social and political effects" (3). Evidently, we Canadians should not do anything to upset Uncle Sam and disagreeing with his linguists is one step in the wrong direction.
Because Lilles summaries and indeed adds to what I would call less than intelligent observations about Canadian English, I will use his paper as a rough outline, refuting some of his arguments and observations. The reason I choose Lilles’ paper in particular is because much of what he writes has little to do with linguistics, sociolinguistics, or psycholinguistics, though he claims it does. I believe he manages to articulate many common views held by lay people or non-linguists about language. And like many non-linguists, and some American linguists, he assumes that his arguments or perspectives are correct because they sound logical or they were made innocent of any ideology. Thus, by refuting some of his arguments and perspectives, I wish to make clear that there is such a thing as Canadian English and moreover there is nothing wrong with defending and taking pride in our Language.
A Unique nation with a unique language!
Lilles begins his paper by quoting John Algeo: "all linguistic varieties are fictions". He agrees with Algeo that it is useful even convenient to study linguistic communities within national boundaries. In fact, he asserts that it is valid to do so "provided there is indeed a unique or binding set of linguistic features shared by [the] group". "Unique" is an interesting criteria to apply as a condition. Indeed, apparently there are not enough "unique" features or distinctions between American and Canadian English; therefore, his argument is that the varieties of English spoken in Canada should come under the umbrella of American English.
Such an argument is less than intelligent, especially considering that Lilles does not explicitly state how many differences and what type of differences would constitute purposefulness or usefulness. Surely if vocabulary, spelling, grammar, and pronunciation constitute the premise of his argument, then a Canadian like myself is forced to conclude that Lilles did not carefully read and consider works published by Walter S. Avis, M. S. Scargill, Harold B. Allen, Mark M. Orkin, and J. K. Cambers, even though he cites these men. I am led to believe that Lilles has a problem with reading and interpreting anything written in Canadian English, which will become more apparent later on when we deconstruct his evaluation of the "pragmatic value" of Canadian dictionaries.
To return, had Lilles consulted much of the publications by the latter gentlemen and had he carefully reviewed the Canadian Oxford Dictionary (COD), he would have found ample enough examples that demonstrate the difference in general between Canadian and American English. In fact, had he merely consulted the COD, he would have had too many examples, if that is possible, that differentiate Canadian English from all other ‘Englishes’. I feel it necessary here to state that it is one thing to argue that there are many similarities between American and Canadian English as some of the aforementioned Canadian authors do, or that Canadian English, due to the powerful American cultural influence (MTV, Hollywood, Microsoft, etc.), has lost and is loosing some of the features which clearly distinguish it from American English (i.e. younger generations seem to prefer Am. Spelling over Br. Spelling) but it is something all together different to argue that Canadian English is "to all intents and purposes General American with a few modified sounds usually paralleled in American sub-dialects and with some vocabulary variations" (JEGP, 1948, pp.59-67), which is what Bloomfield essentially tried to demonstrate, but failed miserably, as does Lilles.
If one is naïve enough to accept Bloomfield’s observation, then they should be naïve enough to accept the following: General American is to all intent and purposes General English English with a few modified sounds usually paralleled in English sub-dialects and with some vocabulary variations. Thus, there is no such thing as an American English. Indeed, all those varieties spoken in North America are but varieties of English English (Eng Eng), the mother tongue of all ‘Englishes’. How exactly would an American Linguist like Bloomfield refute this observation? Indeed, I earnestly wait for any linguist for that matter to demonstrate that American English is so different (or unique as Lilles would say) from British English without resorting to pointing out the differences in vocabulary, spelling, grammar, and pronunciation.
Furthermore, I must point out again the absurdity of using the term "unique", especially in the contexts Lilles uses it throughout his paper. Unique by definition means one of a kind and thus any difference found between two languages, for example American English vs. English English, would constitute uniqueness. Consistency and logic dictate that the condition remain the same irrespective of which ‘Englishes’ are being compared; thus Canadian English is unique even by Lilles standard though he does not know it.
The Politics of Language
Lilles next major howler is arguing that those of us who use the term "Canadian English" do so merely because "we equate a nation with a language". He makes it sound as if only Canadians are guilty of doing so. Of course, had we lived a couple of centuries ago, such a distinction would have had some merit, because apparently that was when all the "unique" languages of the world developed. The key to the development of these "unique" languages was geographical isolation. Hence, in England an English language developed and in France French developed "and so on" (4). While it should be very obvious how ridiculous and rather simplistic this line of argument, theory, or summary of language development is, I shall nonetheless spill some ink pointing it out. Firstly, geographical isolation was not a major ingredient to the development of "unique" languages. In fact, the opposite is true, and Lilles would have recognised this had he every read any history book written on the English language or for that matter any language. For convenience I quote Baugh:
The English language of today reflects many centuries of development. The political and social events that have in the course of English history so profoundly affected the English people in their national life have generally had a recognizable effect on their language. The Roman Christianizing of Britain in 597 brought England into contact with Latin civilization and made significant additions to our vocabulary. The Scandinavian invasions resulted in a considerable mixture of the two peoples and their languages. The Norman Conquest made English for two centuries the language mainly of the lower classes while the nobles and those associated with them used French on almost all occasions. And when English once more regained supremacy as the language of all elements of the population, it was an English greatly changed in both form and vocabulary from what it had been in 1066. 2
The reason I quote Baugh at length is to make it apparent that the "uniqueness" of English did not come about due to isolation but rather due to an array of "political and social events". Indeed, had English been isolated from all the influences Baugh lists above, especially the Norman Conquest, most likely it would "probably have pursued much the same course as the other Germanic languages, retaining perhaps more of its inflections and preserving a predominantly Germanic vocabulary…and incorporating words from other languages much less freely" (105).
At any rate, it is clear what Lilles is trying to get across: because of the geographical distance between America and England, the languages had the opportunity to develop "uniquely". However, because there is no geographical distance between Canada and America (we are after all neighbours) Canadian English did not have a chance to develop "uniquely". Based on this observation Lilles concludes: "Thus, the desire to create a term such as "Canadian English" is born from a reversing of the process. There is a nation, therefore there must be a unique language to complement it" (4). To paraphrase, only we Canadians, being the passionate politicians we are, coupled with our deep sense of insecurity, have fabricated the history of our own language in which we assigned a term, Canadian English, to a language which already had a term, American English, that described it. Indeed, only we Canadians suffer from a psychological need to distinguish or develop a language that we can call our own; a language which we can write our history as we perceive it; a language in which we can sing our national anthem with profound pride. To clearly demonstrate the preposterousness of attributing the latter psychological phenomena to only Canadians, I quote, just for my fellow Canuck, none other than an America, Noah Webster:
As an independent nation,… our honour requires us to have a system of our own, in language as well as government. Great Britain, whose children we are, and whose language we speak, should no longer be our standard; for the taste of her writers is already corrupted, and her language on the decline…
It does not take a genius to figure out that Noah Webster equated language with nation and thus set out to formulate a new standard and not, by the way, Mr. Lilles a "unique" language. One wonders had Webster felt differently about the language he spoke, how "unique" American English would be today. Indeed, had Webster believed that the English standard was worth preserving to the tee because it was eloquent enough to express practically anything and that "the taste of her writers" were not corrupt, would colour, centre, analyse by some freak of nature become color, center, and analyze (note the spelling of "honour" in the quote which is taken directly from his essay "Dissertations on the English Language" Boston, 1789)? I highly doubt it for English is a non-isomorphic language. To sum up, it should be very clear that one cannot divorce language from culture, language from politics, language from identity and claim to be a linguist just trying to understand or objectively describe a language from an impartial nonpartisan perspective.
What is clear is Lilles does not comprehend how language factors in the overall equation of not just a nation’s identity but of a persons identity. I would have to agree with Fraser Sutherland who pointed out that Lilles exhibits "naïve cultural nationalism" ("English Today", 19). How does one define themselves in today’s world? Consider the following quote taken for The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order by Samuel P. Huntington:
People and nations are attempting to answer the most basic question humans can face: Who are we? And they are answering that question in the traditional way humans beings have answered it, by reference to the things that mean most to them. People define themselves in terms of ancestry, religion, language, history, values, customs, and institutions…People use politics not just to advance their interest but also to define their identity. We know who we are only when we know who we are not and often only when we know whom we are against. (21) [The bold is my emphasis]
Though Huntington is not a linguist, sociolinguist, or psycholinguist, he has dedicated his life to studying global politics and has diligently and meticulously recorded how people in the post-Cold War international system choose to distinguish themselves. His findings have lead him to conclude that the most important distinctions are no longer "ideological, political, or economic"; they are "cultural" (21). The quote above is his definition of culture. In light of Huntington’s observation, let us consider why it seems important for American linguists such as Bloomfield and naïve Canadians such as Lilles to convince me and other proud to be Canadians that we have no language of our own, that the language we speak is American English. Is there a motive or am I just paranoid?
I feel it necessary to point out that I am also a Croatian and that Bloomfield and Lilles’ endeavors remind me of Serbian endeavors to erase Croatian history and even identity by attempting to convince not only Croatians but the whole world that a Croatian language never existed; that Croatians have been speaking Serbian with a few modified sounds usually paralleled in Serbian sub-dialects and with some vocabulary variations. Does this sound familiar? The reason I draw a parallel is to bring to the fore how regional hegemons have tried, and surely will continue in their endeavors, to erase the history of smaller neighbouring countries by first and foremost erasing the language spoken by the people. There is a sinister logic to this method. Once American and Serbians have Canadians and Croatians believe that they are speaking their language, a new relationship evolves. The Canadian speaks looking up to the American while the American down to the Canadian and likewise between the Croatian and Serbian. Naturally, the hegemons suddenly become authorities on any given issue and culture (as defined by Huntington) is of particular interest in every case the world over. The first cultural lesson neighbours often received is a history lesson. Their history is rewritten and in every case the world over the end result is similar: the smaller nation of people (Canadians and Croatians) find out that their origins derive directly from the hegemons (American and Serbian). Any argument put forth to the contrary is immediately dismissed on accounts that the speaker arguing is clearly suffering from an identity crises and/or is blinded by nationalism. The many motives for such endeavors are different. In the American case, the assertion of cultural superiority is a major motive and seems to be source of comfort. Canada is not a threat (culturally, economically, and militarily) because essentially it is America; at least some Americans would like us to thinks so and take comfort in believing so. However, if Lilles is of any indication, Americans will some day have discovered insulin, invented the telephone, the light bulb, the JAVA language, and the game of basketball to mention but a few things. To be sure, so long as I am living and am able to speak and write the world over will know of Canadian English and its unique culture.
Standardization is Natural, eh?
Lilles seems to believe that standardized languages are natural or rather unique languages. In fact, upon a closer reading of his muddling, one realises that he has a problem comprehending that a language can exist in its own right even though there is no prescribed standard. Indeed, he refuses to recognise Canadian English as a "unique language" because it does not have a very rigid clear cut standard written in stone. Choices present problems. His dilemmas remind me of Randolph Quirk’s remark that "the existence of standards…is an endemic feature of our mortal condition and … people feel alienated and disoriented if a standard seems to be missing…" (Quirk 6). In Lilles’ case, he yearns standardization. How else is one to interpret his bickering about Canadian dictionaries lacking pragmatic use (… and we still long in Canada to be able to go to "the Dictionary" and know once and for all how to spell the generic name for red, white, etc.)? At any rate, this line of argument raises an important question: should we Canadians once and for all standardize Canadian English? I shall return to this question after refuting some more arguments put forth by Lilles.
English in Canada?
The appeal to American authority especially on matters of vocabulary and pronunciation by Lilles is truly sad and probably a result of his yearning to belong to a standardized culture. After desecrating the term "Canadian English" (how else is a Canadian suppose to read "pedigree" followed by A.C. Geikie’s definition of the term), Lilles syllogistically dismisses years of important observations and enormous surveys done to support them by some of the greatest Canadian linguists, dialectologists, and lexicographers. In short, their work amounts to trying to define Canadian English by stressing the difference in vocabulary. (Again I am very suspicious as to whether Lilles actually carefully read landmark articles published by W. Avis and M. H. Scargill.) Ultimately, they fail in their endeavors because Lilles seems to have become an authority over night on lexicography and states "it is impossible to object to most of the words Scargill presents as "Canadian" on grounds that they are not truly so". However, Lilles, the expert, does not give us even one example of Scargill’s so many made errors. Instead, he moves to emphasis the "problem of defining Canadianisms" and some uncertainty the Dictionary of Canadianisms based on Historical Principals (DCHP) had with classifying certain lexemes. In the end, they do "manage to come to a conclusion" but it seems hardly satisfactory.
To strengthen his argument, Lilles labels the majority of words that Scargill cites as unimportant and not really worth taking note of let alone use to define and distinguish Canadian English from American English: "the words for the most part contain specific technical words or proper names, very limited regional words, or words that are either rare, obsolete or obsolescent". The remaining words, most likely those contested by Americans, are apparently Americanisms because Canadians such as Scargill "seem consciously ‘to ignore the existence of the United States’", who, of course, already owned the words. Lilles quotes Raven I. McDavid, Jr., who, because he is an American linguist, has the authority to dismiss Scargill’s claim over a word as being a Canadianism simply because "many of the words are well known in various parts of the United States". And it is only logical therefore to assume that they are Americanism because the sheer thought of Canadian speakers influencing American speakers is incomprehensible.
I regret to inform both Lilles and all American linguists who believe the latter to be true, that language contact, more specifically dialect contact, is much more complex than what they think it to be. Contemporary studies have shown that small immigrant communities can have an impact on larger communities, even as big as a metropolis. I am reminded of Trudgill’s study "Language contact and inherent variability: The absence of hypercorrection in East Anglian present tense forms". For convenience, I quote Lesley Milroy’s diligent summary of the study:
Trudgill describes a language contact situation in the late sixteenth century resulting from the flight to Norwich of large numbers of mainly Dutch speaking refugees from Spanish persecution in the Low Countries. At that time, three variants of the present tense third person singular verb suffix were in competition in Norwich: -eth, a Southern dialect form associated also with emergent Standard; -es, an innovatory Northern dialect form; and zero, a simplified form adopted by the Dutch immigrants. Trudgill argues that processes of dialect mixing and reallocation of variants which took place at that time gave rise to the contemporary pattern of alternation between zero and third singular –s in contemporary Norwich vernacular. (Milroy, 5)
Now if a group of Dutch refugees could influence the grammar of a much larger community, why is it impossible for some American linguists to accept that Canadian speakers could have influenced the lexicon of American speakers? Or worse, how can they really believe that approximately 40, 000 Loyalist -which by no means is a small number, and the number continued to increase for some thirty years- brought with them a unified speech which never changed irrespective of the rich dialects with which it came into contact with. What is more, by the time of Confederation, due to a planned emigration policy, half of Canada’s population of 3,500,00 was of British descent. Apparently, even 1, 500, 000 people did not have any affect on loyalist speech, which by the way was not standardized (Noah Webster was not at his prime yet); rather, 1, 500, 000 people upon arrival instantaneously started to perfectly speak this loyalist American dialect. Such a theory is ridiculous. As Scargill points out, "the later and more extensive pioneer settlements may have destroyed the influence of Loyalist speech, and there is no doubt that they deeply changed the nature of the original British North American colonies" (quoted in Orkin 57).
Nobody in their right mind would argue that the Loyalist did not have a profound effect on the English language spoken in Canada, but only an arrogant fool with sinister intentions in mind would argue that they brought with them an American standardized dialect which never changed irrespective of the sociolinguistic landscape, which was indeed very rich as John Robert Godley observed in 1844:
Everybody is a foreigner here; and ‘home’ in their mouth invariably means another country… one man addresses you in a rich cork brogue, the next in broad Scotch, and a third in undeniable Yorkshire: the Yankee may be known by his broad-brimmed hat, lank figure and nasal drawl; then you have the French Canadian, chattering patois … the German … and the Italian … as easily distinguishable as at home. (quoted in Orkin, 13)
If anything is true, it seems more like some American linguists consciously ignore the existence of anything that would put a wrench in their theory, which surely "was born from a reversing of the process" to use a phrase by Lilles: loyalist migrate in large numbers, therefore their language changes everybody else’s forever and ever. Very droll, very very droll.
Oh my god too many choices…dear god which one will I choose?
After reading the sections entitled "Consistently inconsistent" and "Language, nation, and history", one not familiar with how our youth in Canada are educated is left with the impression that little Canadians go through a very stressful and confusing ordeal growing up from which they never really recover. Apparently, whenever they are told to consult a Canadian dictionary they walk away more confused then they initially were. According to Lilles, a simple task such as looking up the word analyse is a dilemma. And because "dictionary makers" make no effort to resolve such dilemmas, Canadian dictionaries will forever remain worthless confusing word lists and even dangerous for within them can be found "token Canadian content" which some how misrepresents the political history of the nation. As I have stated earlier on, I believe that Lilles has a problem with reading anything written in Canadian English. I quote from the "Style Guide Section" of the Oxford Canadian Dictionary:
6.1 –er/re Canadian writers overwhelmingly prefer the –re spellings in words such as centre, fibre, theatre, lustre, meagre, sombre, spectre, etc. The –er spelling preferred in American English can be found in Canadian writing and are acceptable provided that consistency governs their use. The acre, cadre, euchre, lucre, massacre, mediocre, ogre, and wiseacre are never spelled –er. Note also the usage indicated in the entries for meter and metre in the main part of the dictionary. (1702)
What exactly is the problem with this explanation? Which part of the explanation is unclear? I would like for the record to point out that all the "Common Suffix" explanations are just as clearly articulated as the one above. Thus, Lilles either cannot read Canadian English or he did not bother to read the style section of the COD and as a result based on his "intuition" states that "dictionary makers" have made no effort to resolve "the more famous thorns of Canadian orthography".
Another ignorant yet amusing declaration Lilles makes based on his intuition is "Canadian authorities cannot agree firmly on issues of usage and correctness" and thus "there is no absolute standard to appeal to". Because I am a Canadian English teacher, if children do have a problem which the dictionary does not address at all or does not address in detail, I am then the authority, Mr. Lilles! Indeed, lexicographers are not the only people qualified to interpret language. There is a reason why we English teachers go to university Mr. Lilles. In short, any English teacher is more than qualified to assess and assist a child or student on matters which might be confusing pertaining to language or style. In fact, it is our job to do so; the COD, I might add, makes our job all the easier. It is the tool of a Canadian English classroom.
Towards the Future: Serious Considerations
There are many more foolish, irrational, and politically laden arguments Lilles makes, which due to purposes of economy, I cannot continue to point out. However, I believe that I have established that none of the arguments, he and the American linguists he looks up to, put forth are truly worth entertaining seriously. None of the arguments even remotely demonstrate that Canadian English is a myth. Lilles arguments are brought about due to a lack of familiarity with the basic principals of linguistics, sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, and lexicography; the American linguistics he cites do not lack familiarity with the basics; their arguments derive from a sense of cultural superiority and their intentions are sinister, to say the least.
Earlier I posed an important question: should we Canadians standardize our English language? In other words, should we move from being descriptive towards prescriptive? Studies have shown that opting fully for or against is nonproductive (Garrett, Milroy, Pennycook). Pennycook believes that the problem lies in the dichotomization: "if the only choice is nose-in-the-air prescriptivism or head-in-the-sand descriptivism, we are stuck" (121). Lilles, as I have pointed out, is an ardent supporter of a standard language. He praises both American and British dictionaries for having only one correct answer. However, contemporary studies have pointed out that such correctness comes with a high price; one I do not think we tolerant Canadians are willing to pay:
Lesley Milroy compares standard language ideology in the UK and USA. Focusing particularly on accent in spoken language she argues that while standard language ideology in UK is an exclusionary, class-based ideology, in the USA it is a racially discriminatory ideology. Milroy shows how the historical construction of the notion of the standard language, are tied to British classism and United States’ racism.
The problems Milroy points out are problems specific to standard language cultures. Thus, it is not altogether irrational to say that we Canadians have avoided such problems because we have consciously chosen (or at least the privileged few have) not to become a standard language culture. However, our choice has had consequences as well. Our children, unlike children in standard language cultures, do not study the history of their language at secondary school nor are they taught grammar or rhetoric as a matter of policy. In fact, a Toronto teacher told Robert D. Katz (a social worker living in Toronto) that "Grammar doesn’t matter any more," at a parent meeting. The teacher went on to say "we don’t teach the term ‘split infinitive,’ but students learn to recognise this error in context. If I were to slavishly teach them rules, they would forget." Katz observes "he (the teacher) didn’t know why some parents laughed at him." My intention is not to start debating the pros and cons of teaching grammar and rhetoric; but rather to point out that by not teaching grammar and rhetoric students are never really required to reflect on language as they are required to reflect on mathematics, geography, religion, etc. The ramifications are they know little about the properties of a language and worse they really never fully develop an attitude towards language. As Garrett points out, complaints about language use or other linguistic ‘facts’ can be interpreted within wider patterns of attitudes and beliefs (630). He demonstrates how complaints and comments made by the public are a source of valuable data to sociolinguists. I believe that if we are to entertain the option of standardization in Canada, we must first assess how Canadians feel about issues pertaining to standardization. To do so, we must start to educate the public and especially our secondary school children about the importance of language and language development. In other words, the decision of standardization must not be made by the privileged few nor regulated entirely by them if our English is standardized. And likewise the decision to remain descriptive should not have been made by the privileged few. Though with the publishing of the COD, I would argue that we neither have our noses to the air or our heads in the sand; the privileged few might very well have discovered or rather developed a balance worthy of admiration. However, because not enough language attitude studies have been carried out in Canada by Canadian or foreign sociolinguists, no one can say for certain.
Lastly, I believe it is high time that a decent and accessible history of Canadian English book be written. The origins of Canadian English have yet to be fully discovered. To be more specific, the importance of immigrant communities with respect to dialect mixing and other dialect contact issues have yet to be taken seriously on a large scale. My studies lead me to conclude that researchers thus far have tended to focus on the distinctiveness of certain dialects primarily the loyalist American dialect and how much or how little British emigrants have affected it. To be sure, the loyalist came from many different states and those states where settled at different times with very different people (Irish, Scottish, English, German, Dutch, French, Spainish) from different classes (filthy rich to indentured servants); we know this to be a fact. Thus, it is ridiculous to continue to carry on about an American Loyalist dialect and the ramifications it had on the English speaking population in Arcadia or Upper Canada. Surely, if Trudgill could in 1996 demonstrate how a Dutch-speaking refugee community in the sixteenth century through the process of dialect mixing caused a zero pattern in the present tense third person singular to occur in Norwich, Canadian sociolinguists can undertake a fresh serious study of the origins of Canadian English.
Furthermore, in such a book, linguists should endeavor to compare the difference between Canadian pronunciations first and foremost and then if necessary compare them with American, British, Australian, and South African. In other words, more importance should be given to various Canadian pronunciations (Toronto is the most multicultural city in the world) and how these pronunciations are changing (there are Canadian regional standards) due to immigration for example. I am not suggesting that America’s influence be ignored; rather, I wish simply to restore it to its proper position, seen as merely one out of many possible influences.
We Canadians speak and have been speaking and will continue to speak Canadian English whether or not some American linguists like it or not. We should never under any circumstance feel that our language is somehow inferior to American or British English because it has not been standardized. Furthermore, we should take pride in the language we speak and defend it whenever some American linguist or confused naïve Canadian decide to attack it. An attack on our nation’s language is an attack on our nation’s culture. We Canadians have little to be ashamed of especially compared to Americans. Who backpacks around Europe with a red maple leaf on their gear but is not a Canadian, eh? Thus, attacks should be met with resentment and with intelligent responses. To the Americans linguists who will continue to propagate that there never was and nor will be a Canadian English, I am not going anywhere soon, and you will hear from me. To the naïve Canadians, such as Lilles, I will stand on guard for thee, until you come to your senses.
For Further Reading
Avis, Walter S. "So eh? is Canadian, eh? CJL/RCL 17:2 (1972), 89-104
(Brilliant and engaging study of the eh interjection. However, it is out of date and the source used, novels, short stories, poem is somewhat inappropriate. Nonetheless, those interested in this interjection; this is the best starting point.)
Avis, Walter S. "Canadian English in its North American context." CJL/RCL 28:1
(Excellent overview of the differences between Canadian English and American English.
A must read for those interested in history and distinguishing features of Canadian English.)
Aitchison, Jean. "Misunderstanding about language: A historical overview." Journal of
Sociolinguistics 5/4 (2001): 611-619
Borberg, Charles. "Geolinguistic diffusion and the U.S.-Canada border." Language
Variation and Change, 12 (2000), 1-24
(This is an excellent article for those who are particularly interested in the differences
between Canadian and American pronunciation)
Chambers, J. K. ed. Canadian English: Origin and Structures. Toronto: Methuen
Chambers, J. K. "The Canada-US Border as a Vanishing Isogloss: The Evidence of
Chesterfield." JEngL 23. 1/2 (1990-1995), 155-166
(Unless one is interested in the etymology of chesterfield, I would not recommend this
article. Chambers euphoria for continentalism is hard to stomach.)
Edwards, John and Maryanne Jacobsen. "Standard and regional standard speech:
Distinctions and similarities." Lan. Soc. 16 (1987), 369-380
(The authors undertook a study of speech in a Canadian context, and found that regional variety, Nova Scotian, was perceived most favourably on dimensions relating to competence, success, and status.)
Garrett, Peter. "Language attitudes and sociolinguistics". Journal of Sociolinguistics
5/4 (2001): 626-631
Gregg, Robert J. "The Survival of Local Items as Specific Markers in Vancouver
English." JEngL 23.1/2 (1990-95) 185-194
(A survey of nine words which belong to the Canadian West Coast and are known and
used by Vancouverites. This is a must read for those interested in Canadianism.)
Johnson, Sally. "Who’s misunderstanding whom? Sociolinguistic, public debate and the
Media." Journal of Sociolinguistics 5/4 (2001): 591-610
Katičić, Radoslav. Croatian linguistic loyalty." Int’l. J. Soc. Lang. 147 (2001), 17-29
(This is a must read for those interested in the politics of language. It is an excellent account of the hypocrisy and ignorance with which some approach the study of language.)
Kalogjera, Damir. "On attitudes toward Croatian dialects and on their changing status."
Int’l. J. Soc. Lang. 147 (2001), 91-100
(This article outlines some of the problems worth investigating with respect to the whole dialect-standard complex. Kalogjera calls for more empirical research along psycholinguistic and sociolinguistic lines.)
Lilles, Jaan. "The Myth of Canadian English." English Today 62, vol. 16, No.2 (April
Milroy, Lesley. "Introduction: Mobility, contact and language change –Working with
contemporary speech communities". Journal of Sociolinguistics 6/1
Milroy, James. "Response to Sally Johnson: Misunderstanding language?" Journal of
Sociolinguistics 5/4 (2001): 620-625
Nylvek, Judith A. "Is Canadian English in Saskatchewan Becoming More American?"
American Speech 67:3 (Autumn, 1992), 268-278
(The answer to this article is yes. She demonstrates that teenagers have a strong tendency
to use American variants.)
Orkin, Mark M. Speaking Canadian English: An Informal Account of the English
Language in Canada. Toronto: General Publishing Company Limited, 1970.
(This is the most accessible history of Canadian English I have come across. It should be required reading for first year university students.)
Pennycook, Alastair. "Disinventing standard English". English Language and
Linguistics 4.1 (2000): 115-124
Scargill, M.H. Modern Canadian English Usage: Linguistic change and reconstruction.
Toronto: McClelland and Steward Limited, 1974.
(Very thorough study of Canadian English. Surveys on morphology and syntax, pronunciation, spelling, and vocabulary. Outdated but a must read!)
Sutherland, Fraser. "Sprightly muddles and errors." English Today 64, vol. 16, No. 4
(October 2000), 19-20
(This article is in response to Lilles’ article. He points out many errors that I did not
address. This is a good source for of those interested in Canadian lexicography)
Upward, Christopher. "Canadian spelling choices." English Today 64, vol. 16, No. 4
(October 2000), 19-20
(Another response to Lilles article. The author is Editor-in-Chief of the Simplified
Spelling Society. He addresses spelling issues in Canadian English)
Warkentyne, H. J. "Contemporary Canadian English: A Report of the Study of Canadian
English." American Speech vol. 46, 3-4 (1971), 193-200
(This article is out of date and not really worth reading if one is not particularly interested
in the very first survey of the English language in Canada.)