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American English and Canadian: the differences

There are important differences between American English and Canadian English. Canadian English is much more similar to British English, whereas American English, both written and spoken, is further removed from that of the motherland. Find out how.

American English: the features

American English generally opts for simplified spelling. For instance, the British write ‘colour’ while Americans omit the U, considering it redundant, and spell it ‘color’.

In some cases, spellings change to become more akin to the pronunciation of the words. A clear example of this is the word which is spelled ‘centre’ in British English but becomes ‘center’ in American English, making it easier to pronounce.

In other cases, American English adopts completely different terms to British English ones. This is true of the famous Christmas knitwear: ‘sweater’ in American English and ‘jumper’ in British.

When it comes to pronunciation, there are still more differences. For instance, the Americans pronounce all the Rs in a word, while the British pronounce the first one and leave out the others.

Canadian English: the features

Before we look at the features of English as spoken by the Canadians, let us first ask ourselves this question: why is English spoken in Canada? The answer lies in the history of the nation, which was colonised in the 1600s by the English and the French, who then gradually lost their power over the territory. To this day, the British monarch is head of state in Canada, which is one of the Commonwealth realms.

For this reason, the official language spoken in Toronto and the other big cities is English.

Over time, the descendants of the English settlers came to speak a unique version of British English, namely Canadian English.

More faithful to the mother tongue than American English, Canadian English upholds the British forms of ‘theatre’, ‘centre’ and ‘colour’, while also taking on features typical of American English.

In Canadian spelling, verbs ending in ‘-ize’ ‒ sometimes spelled ‘-ise’ in British English ‒ follow the ‘-ize’ form, as in American English.

As far as pronunciation goes, Canadian English remains true to many more British nuances than American English, which has ‘flattened’ many sounds.

The differences between Canadian and American English: a summary

In terms of spoken English, the American accent is harsher and coarser than the more refined Canadian one, but there are actually very few differences in pronunciation. These mainly relate to the so-called Canadian rising, the habit of ‘lifting’ certain diphthongs before the consonants F, K, P, S and T.

Canadian English, as we have seen, maintains more traditional spelling, while American English leans towards progressive simplification.

Why is it important to know the regional differences in the same language? Because, to produce a correct translation, we need to bear in mind all the linguistic features of a given variant of the target language.

With EuroTrad’s translation services, you are guaranteed professionalism and attention to these linguistic details. We can perform translations in a variety of language combinations, and we also know that, in a novel translated for the Canadian market, no character would be seen in an ‘ugly sweater’!

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May 30, 2022

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