The Strange Dichotomy of Canadian English

December 23, 2013

Over the last couple of months I've been copy editing one of my novels, and have run into the strange dichotomy that is Canadian English.

I've been using the Oxford Dictionary of English, 2nd Edition. My writing software, Scrivener, comes from England so I assume its spell-checker uses British English. The main market for my book is likely the U.S., however. I'm currently editing for consistency trying to use more Canadian forms of words, then will do another pass to convert over to a purely U.S. version.

During the whole process, I've noticed a distinct tendency in my writing that I must guess is uniquely Canadian. I use the "u" version of words like "flavour" and "neighbour", which Scrivener doesn't complain about. Yet I'm also very consistent in using single "l" versions for the conjugation of words that end in "l". Ie, "traveled" vs "travelled", "marveled" vs "marvelled", which the dictionary tells me is very U.S.-centric.

This has made me wonder if I should invest in putting out two editions of the book, one for the U.S. only, and one that's more Commonwealth oriented.

So, fellow Canadian writers, is it just me with split-personality spelling, or do you do it too?

3 comments on “The Strange Dichotomy of Canadian English”

  1. As a Canadian technical writer, I've always had this issue. I tend to follow "British" as a rule, since Canadian -- as you pointed out -- seems to be of two minds, which annoys me.

    That said, I'm also writing a story where the lead character is British, who spends most of the time in the United States, and I'm mixing spelling just to keep things interesting/confusing. The really fun one is less the "u" or double-L, so much as the "-ize" vs. "-ise".

    God, English sucks as a language... O_o

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