Written to the song: Let You Get Away — Sean Frank

“There is no linguistic war in Montreal” — Pierre Moreau

Old Montreal

Canada is known for being linguistically homogeneous, meaning most Canadians share the same accent. Though, Montreal is linguistically unique. I consider Montreal to be one of the most diverse cities in Canada, with large Italian, English and Jewish communities. Each of these communities have unique accent markers which reveal which community they belong to.

These three specific groups typically live in the same neighbourhoods of the city and therefore share linguistic characteristics (Boberg, 2010). These language markers often indicate the background of the speaker. Montreal Jews are identified as having a “Jewish intonation” in their speech where they pronounce the vowel “i” as the vowel sound in “boy” instead of “bye”. My neighbour also informed me (and I did my research and apparently it’s true) that Montreal Jews typically emphasize the “g” in words. This linguistic marker is called “hard G pronunciation” and is evident in the words “hanger” and “ring” (Scott, 2010). Montreal Jews are also known for using Yiddish terminology in their speech.

Montreal is a predominantly French-speaking country, with 2.4 million French speakers and 450,000 English speakers. Montreal English speakers are known for their unique vowel pronunciation, saying words like “camp” and “family” like “cawmp” and “fawmily”, similar to our big brother — America.

The Italian community of Montreal is known for their emphasis on final consonants of words like “coke” and “flirt”. As well, emphasizing words which end with the letter /-g/ or /-t/.

For linguists it is really interesting (and also fun) to identify common speech characteristics. The down-side of these linguistic markers is that if you don’t want to associate with your group, it may be difficult to un-learn these speech patterns. The positive is that this unique linguistic trait makes you feel a part of the group. What would you prefer?

Sources:

Marian, Scott. “Our Way with Words.” Www.montrealgazette.com. N.p., 15 Dec. 2010. Web. 16 Nov. 2016.

Author of “Q & A a Day for Travelers”. https://www.linkedin.com/in/anna-frenkel/

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