Canadian raising

One of the distinctive traits of Canadian English is the different pronunciation of the diphthongs [aj] and [aw] in some environments.

[aj] and [aw] usually begin with the tongue body in a very low position (and usually central, though this varies for some dialects) -- the position we use the vowel symbol [a] for. The tongue body then moves upward and forward for [aj] or upward and backward for [aw].

Most Canadian English speakers use another version of these diphthongs in some words. Instead of the tongue starting in a low and central position, it starts mid and central, in the position we use the symbol [ʌ] for. The tongue body then moves upward and either forward or backward, just as it does for the regular [aj] and [aw].

normal [aw]
raised [ʌw]

normal [aj]
raised [ʌj]

Here are examples of words with and without Canadian raising:

loud [lawd]      lout [lʌwt]
house (verb) [hawz]   house (noun) [hʌws]
gouge [ɡawdʒ]   couch [kʌwtʃ]
eyes [ajz]   ice [ʌjs]
tribe [tɹajb]   tripe [tɹʌjp]
live [lajv]   life [lʌjf]
ride [ɹajd]   write [ɹʌjt]

Which word uses which version of the diphthong isn't a random choice. You can notice in the list above that all the consonants that follow [ʌj] and [ʌw] are voiceless, while all of the consonants that follow regular [aj] and [aw] are voiced. The "raised" variants [ʌj] and [ʌw] will be used whenever the following consonant is voiceless; otherwise regular [aj] and [aw] will be used (including the case when there is no following consonant, as in cow [kaw] and my [maj]).

You can hear sound files of words with Canadian Raising on Taylor Roberts' web page.


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