We’re getting close to the Stanley Cup finals.

Only one of the four remaining teams is Canadian, but you’d be forgiven for thinking that even some of the American teams and players in pro hockey are from our neighbor to the north.

There’s some linguistic research that suggests that American hockey players sometimes start to sound more like Canadians as their hockey careers continue.

The lead researcher here is Andrew Bray, a linguist from the University of Rochester.

For his master’s thesis, he was going to study how hockey jargon developed: not just the official terms for pucks and zones and sticks and arenas, but the language that the players used among themselves.

He realized that some of the players who were from the United States had started to sound Canadian when they talked.

This became the new focus of his research, though it was a tricky one to study because of what’s known as the “observer’s paradox.”

If he started interviewing US hockey players and asked them why they talked like Canadians, they would be more conscious of their speech and they might end up speaking differently.

Instead, he interviewed players from the American Hockey League and East Coast Hockey League about their playing careers, and then he analyzed those interviews to look for clues to the way they speak.

What he found was that the players who sounded more Canadian were still slightly off from the way actual Canadian players spoke.

There are some physiological differences at work when, say, a Canadian says a word like “aboot” in that well known Canadian way.

The American players had adopted the sounds of the Canadian pronunciation, but still generated those sounds in a more American way.

Bray concluded that the American players weren’t trying to be “fake Canadians,” but instead were developing what’s called a “linguistic persona.”

Consciously or unconsciously, these players were speaking more and more like our idea of what a hockey player sounds like.

And, since a lot of us link hockey and Canada together so closely, their concept of talking like a hockey player sounds pretty Canadian.

The longer they play, the more they sound like a hockey player.

The research, however, does not cover whether they also start ordering double-doubles at Tim Horton’s.

Since we’re in road trip season, I thought it would be good to talk about The Atlantic Road.

This is a road that uses seven bridges to connect a bunch of islands in Norway together.

You essentially get to drive right along the ocean.

How do you pronounce “hockey”? US players say it with “fake Canadian” accent. (Ars Technica)

The Atlantic Road (Explore Scandanavia)

For just one Canadian loonie a month you could back our show on Patreon!

Photo by Robert Clavarro via Flickr/Creative Commons