North American English


North American English (NAmE, NAE) is the most generalized variety of the English language as spoken in the United States and Canada.[2] Because of their related histories and cultures,[3] plus the similarities between the pronunciations (accents), vocabulary, and grammar of American English and Canadian English, the two spoken varieties are often grouped together under a single category.[4][5] Canadians are generally tolerant of both British and American spellings, with British spellings of certain words (e.g., colour) being favored in more formal settings and in Canadian print media; for some other words the American spelling prevails over the British (e.g., tire rather than tyre).[6]

North American English
RegionNorthern America (United States, Canada)
Early forms
DialectsAmerican English, Canadian English and their subdivisions
Latin (English alphabet)
Unified English Braille[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3

The United Empire Loyalists who fled the American Revolution (1775–1783) have had a large influence on Canadian English from its early roots.[7] Some terms in North American English are used almost exclusively in Canada and the United States (for example, the terms diaper and gasoline are widely used instead of nappy and petrol). Although many English speakers from outside North America regard those terms as distinct Americanisms, they are just as common in Canada, mainly due to the effects of heavy cross-border trade and cultural penetration by the American mass media.[8][better source needed]The list of divergent words becomes longer if considering regional Canadian dialects, especially as spoken in the Atlantic provinces and parts of Vancouver Island where significant pockets of British culture still remain.

There are a considerable number of different accents within the regions of both the United States and Canada. English in North America originally derived from the accents prevalent in different English, Scottish and Irish regions of the British Isles. These were developed, built upon, and blended together as new waves of immigration, and migration across the North American continent, developed new accents and dialects in new areas, and as these ways of speaking merged and assimilated with the English-speaking population.


American EnglishEdit

Ethnic American English

Regional American English

Canadian EnglishEdit

Table of accentsEdit

Below, thirteen major North American English accents are defined by particular characteristics:

Accent name Most populous urban center Strong /aʊ/ fronting Strong /oʊ/ fronting Strong /u/ fronting Strong
/ɑr/ fronting
Cot–caught merger Pin–pen merger /æ/ raising system Other defining criteria[10]
African-American Variable No No No Mixed Yes[11] pre-nasal Southern drawl / African-American Vowel Shift / Variable non-rhoticity
Atlantic Canadian Halifax Variable No Yes Yes Yes No various Canadian raising
General American No No No No Mixed No pre-nasal
Inland Northern U.S. Chicago No No No Yes No No general Northern Cities Vowel Shift
Mid-Atlantic U.S. Philadelphia Yes Yes Yes No No No split
Midland U.S. Indianapolis Yes Yes Yes No Mixed Mixed pre-nasal
New York City New York City Yes No No[12] No No No split Variable non-rhoticity
North-Central (Upper Midwestern) U.S. Minneapolis No No No Yes Yes No pre-nasal & pre-velar
Northern New England Boston No No No Yes Yes No pre-nasal
Southern U.S. San Antonio Yes Yes Yes No Mixed Yes pre-nasal Southern drawl / Southern Vowel Shift
Standard Canadian Toronto No No Yes No Yes No pre-nasal & pre-velar Canadian raising / Canadian Vowel Shift
Western U.S. Los Angeles No No Yes No Yes No pre-nasal
Western Pennsylvania Pittsburgh Yes Yes Yes No Yes Mixed pre-nasal /aʊ/ glide weakening


A majority of North American English (for example, in contrast to British English) includes phonological features that concern consonants, such as rhoticity (full pronunciation of all /r/ sounds), conditioned T-glottalization (with satin pronounced [ˈsæʔn̩], not [ˈsætn̩]), T- and D-flapping (with metal and medal pronounced the same, as [ˈmɛɾɫ̩]), L-velarization (with filling pronounced [ˈfɪɫɪŋ], not [ˈfɪlɪŋ]), as well as features that concern vowel sounds, such as various vowel mergers before /r/ (so that, Mary, marry, and merry are all commonly pronounced the same), raising of pre-voiceless /aɪ/ (with price and bright using a higher vowel sound than prize and bride), the weak vowel merger (with affected and effected often pronounced the same), at least one of the LOT vowel mergers (the LOTPALM merger is completed among virtually all Americans and the LOTTHOUGHT merger among nearly half, while both are completed among virtually all Canadians), and yod-dropping (with tuesday pronounced /ˈtuzdeɪ/, not /ˈtjuzdeɪ/). The last item is more advanced in American English than Canadian English.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Unified English Braille (UEB)". Braille Authority of North America (BANA). 2 November 2016. Retrieved 2 January 2017.
  2. ^ "Glossary of Grammatical and Rhetorical Terms".
  3. ^ Chambers, J.K. (1998). "Canadian English: 250 Years in the Making". The Canadian Oxford Dictionary (2nd ed.). p. xi.
  4. ^ Labov, Ash & Boberg (2006)
  5. ^ Trudgill, Peter & Jean Hannah. (2002). International English: A Guide to the Varieties of Standard English, 4th. London: Arnold. ISBN 0-340-80834-9 .
  6. ^ Patti Tasko. (2004). The Canadian Press Stylebook: A Guide for Writers and Editors, 13th. Toronto: The Canadian Press. ISBN 0-920009-32-8, p. 308.
  7. ^ M.H. Scargill. (1957). "Sources of Canadian English", The Journal of English and Germanic Philology, 56.4, pp. 610-614.
  8. ^ John Woitkowitz (2012). "Arctic Sovereignty and the Cold War: Asymmetry, Interdependence, and Ambiguity". Retrieved 2012-03-13.
  9. ^ Labov, Ash & Boberg (2006:148)
  10. ^ Labov, Ash & Boberg (2006:146)
  11. ^ Labov (1972), p. 19.
  12. ^ Labov, Ash & Boberg (2006:101, 103)


  • Chambers, J.K. (1998). "Canadian English: 250 Years in the Making," in The Canadian Oxford Dictionary, 2nd ed., p. xi.
  • Clark, Joe (2008). Organizing Our Marvellous Neighbours: How to Feel Good About Canadian English (e-book). ISBN 978-0-9809525-0-6.
  • Labov, William; Ash, Sharon; Boberg, Charles (2006), The Atlas of North American English, Berlin: Mouton-de Gruyter, ISBN 3-11-016746-8

External linksEdit