Origion of the Edmonton/Norther Alberta drawl
August 1, 2014 3:12 PM   Subscribe

Does anyone know the origins and evolution of the northern Alberta drawl? Does it originate with Texas oil people that moved north, or is it a local evolution?

Northern Alberta has a drawl, that you hear a lot in Edmonton and north of it. I was told that it comes from all the Texas oil people that came up when oil was found there, which makes sense given how similar it sounds.

Someone disagrees with me, and says that very few people came up, and it is just a regional language shift. Does anyone have any resources either documenting when the accent appeared, and if it correlates to oil being found, number of people coming up from Texas, or best of all a linguistic article detailing the evolution of it.

posted by Canageek to Writing & Language (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I lived in Edmonton for several years and am originally from Northern Ontario. There are certain markers that seem to be common in the north all across Canada (even after 20 years down south, my dad still gets asked where he's from), but to my recollection the Alberta variant sounded a lot more Maritime-influenced than Texan. The oil and gas industry has brought a lot more Newfoundlanders and Nova Scotians to Alberta than it has Americans.
posted by northernish at 3:29 PM on August 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yup, seconding northernish. The Newfie/Maritimer diaspora has sent a lot of workers from these regions to Northern AB.
posted by SpecialSpaghettiBowl at 4:03 PM on August 1, 2014

Yeah, it'll be Maritime influences rather than Texan drawl. But more likely, just a regional dialect, these don't change quickly and take generations to shift (I'm not a linguist though).
posted by arcticseal at 8:55 PM on August 1, 2014

Saskatchewan and points west were settled at the end of the 19th century by Americans (among many others), which is why our accent seems fairly neutral to their ears. That could be what you're hearing.

I would say the Maritime accent is almost the opposite of a drawl.
posted by Deodand at 6:53 PM on August 2, 2014

"Canadian raising" is the term you're looking for to search for academic articles. My thesis supervisor wrote about this, so at some point I learned a lot about it but forgot it all again.

It indeed spread from the Maritimes and Ontario west, although not terribly recently (so not likely concurrent with individual Maritimers coming to the west to work).

Canadian English tends to raise diphthongs, whereas Texan English tends to monophthongize them ... or do other things to them which I can't really generalize because I don't know anything about Texan English.

But you're right in that both Texan and Canadian raised dialects do weird things to the diphthongs, and as I learned in sociolinguistics classes long ago, perception of sounds can be different than the phonology of them.

Also note that Canadian raising, although termed Canadian, is found throughout the US Midwest.
posted by bluebelle at 9:04 PM on August 2, 2014

Thanks Bluebelle, that was what I was looking for.
posted by Canageek at 8:40 AM on August 3, 2014

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