“The entire existence of Canadian English is due to three of the most important events in the history of the world.”

An article Canadian linguistics, which appeared in the print edition of Metro News (Toronto) on June 2, 2014, is entitled: “Canadian English, from ‘eh’ to ‘zed’”.

The article, by Luke Simcoe, opens as follows:

  • The term “Canadian English” was simultaneously coined and admonished by Reverend A. Constable Geikie in 1857. Geikie, a Scot, stood before an audience of scientists, architects and engineers at the Royal Canadian Institute and declared our nascent tongue “a corrupt dialect.”
  • Geike may have dismissed Canadian English, but Charles Boberg, a linguistics professor at McGill University, has made a career of studying it. While many of his colleagues treat language like a science — analyzing its very structure and debating the definition of phonemes and allophones — Boberg’s research explores the nexus of language and culture.
  • “Linguists have a tendency to concentrate on the internal linguistic aspects of language, but it’s easy to forget that languages are very much shaped by non-linguistic things,” he says. “Take Canadian English for example. The entire existence of Canadian English is due to three of the most important events in the history of the world.”
  • The story of Geikie’s corrupt dialect begins with the British victory over France in the Seven Years’ War in 1763, ensuring English, not French, became the lingua franca of North America. Then, some two decades later, the American Revolution drove 40,000 British loyalists north into Canada.
  • “It was a huge influx of English speakers into an area that was still mostly Francophone,” Boberg said. “It meant the beginning of a significant English-speaking population in Canada and led directly to the creation of Ontario and New Brunswick.”
  • The final event that established Canadian English as a separate dialect was the Industrial Revolution. Early automation, particularly in agriculture, created a vast surplus population in Britain and sparked another wave of English emigration to the new world.

[End of excerpt]

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