An official study is being done on the pronunciation of Toronto

Sep 16 2021, 2:47 pm

Any Torontonian can usually tell whether someone’s from the area (or even from Canada) simply by their pronunciation of the word “Toronto.”

Most people would agree that if they hit that second “t,” they’re probably not from Canada. So much so that there was even a line about it in the 2012 movie Argo where a group of Americans have to pretend to be Canadian.

But even with the agreed upon dropping of the second “t,” there are still so many different ways people pronounce the city’s name. And one Ph.D. student is on a mission to figure out exactly what they are and where they stem from.

Caitlin Bergin, a Toronto-born linguistics student at Carleton University, recently launched a study to gather data on how people pronounce “Toronto,” both inside and outside of the city.

Bergin says the idea came to her about six years ago after seeing a tote bag for sale in the city.

“I was at the One of a Kind Show at Exhibition Place when I saw a tote bag, created by a local shop named Fitzy, which featured five different spellings of ‘Toronto,'” Bergin told Daily Hive. “It read, TERANO, TRAWNO, TRONNO, TARONNA, TORONOE. After this, I started noticing a lot of posts and comments on the popular subreddit r/toronto which discussed — or rather, debated — acceptable pronunciations of ‘Toronto.’ Redditors would ask ‘how do you pronounce “Toronto?”‘ and they would receive hundreds of responses.”

After putting the idea on the back burner for several years, Bergin is now carrying out an official study under the supervision of Dr. Beth Macleod, associate director of Carleton’s School of Linguistics and Language Studies.

Bergin recently launched a 10-minute, 33-question online survey to gather data, asking participants to listen to recordings of various pronunciations of “Toronto” and identify where someone who says “Toronto” a particular way is from, how old they may be, and if they would personally say “Toronto” that way.

“With this survey, I hope to determine which pronunciations Torontonians perceive to indicate in-group membership, determine which pronunciations Torontonians perceive to indicate out-group membership, and connect participants answers to geographical locations — using the first three digits of participants’ postal codes — in and around the Greater Toronto Area,” Bergin said. “Ultimately, I’m hoping to finally answer the question ‘how do Torontonians pronounce “Toronto?””

The survey is currently live and can be filled out here until October 31. Bergin says she hopes to have the results analyzed and ready to present by the end of the year.

Laura HanrahanLaura Hanrahan

+ Urbanized