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Canadian English Spelling Continues To Surprise Me

December 9, 2011 2 comments

Cosy not cozy Toronto Star 2011.12.08

I live in Canada and was raised most of my life right here in Canada but to this day, Canadian English still amazes and surprises me when I see it written. When I glanced at a newspaper the other day (yesterday’s Toronto Star) I saw this strange word before me. I had honestly never ever seen the word ‘cosy’ before but given the context I immediately understood they meant ‘cozy.’ At first, I thought the Star had screwed up but knowing that Canadian English can often be a funny beast I went to a dictionary to find out. Lo and behold when I looked up the word ‘cosy’ in an Oxford English Dictionary it had ‘cozy’ in brackets with ‘US’ in front of it indicating that with an ‘s’ was the British spelling and the US variant was with a ‘z.’ (A letter which I have always referred to as a ‘zee’, by the way)

According to Wikipedia’s article on Canadian English under Spelling & Dictionaries: Read more…

Will The Different Ways Of Spelling The English Language Survive The 21st Century?

January 24, 2011 Leave a comment

US spelling of a sentence in the Twitter web update box. Notice there are 35 characters left available to be used.

 As we begin to rely more and more on our different technologies people have long said it is the death of the English language as spelling and grammar go out the window. But I have something a little more insidious to discuss today – the death of the variations between the local spellings of the English language. One of the things that always confused the heck out of me when I was a kid was that there was American and Canadian spellings for things especially as my dad was American and my mom a Canadian it didn’t help that my dad had never even stopped to consider that color might be spelled with a ‘u’ (remember these are the days BEFORE spell-check…and even with spell-check do you always make sure the computer you’re using is set for your local dialect of English?)

However, as we move further into the 21st Century and tweeting and texting become ever more the norm limiting us to 140 characters (on Twitter) and 160 characters (text messages) every letter counts. Assuming you can get people these days to use proper spelling in their internet/cell phone text based communication how are you ever going to explain to them that because they’re Canadian they need to waste characters for proper spelling of the word color is colour or snowplough instead of snowplow? Those characters are precious on the interwebs! Granted the sentence I typed in the pictures above will probably never be something that is actually tweeted but I did it to illustrate a point. With those 6 extra characters available to me I can completely change the thoughts being written via text or on Twitter. Those characters seem oddly wasted when the only reason we are using them, really, is nationalistic and now trying to keep traditional spelling as reasons. What other reason can there be?

UK/Canadian spelling of the same sentence as above in the Twitter web update box. Notice there are 29 characters left available to be used.

Therefore, I say that very soon we are going to see the end of these spellings. Even in my time, in private school if we spelled something the American way on a spelling test we got points for it – and this was in the 1980’s before every 10 year old had a cell phone. If the kid’s spelling of the word is correct somewhere in the world are you really going to push him/her to spell it the correct way specific to one group of countries and not the other? (Never mind that Canadian English spelling seems to just pick and choose at random which words will be spelled the US way and which will be spelled the UK way, further confusing the issue).

To be clear, I am absolutely, positively NOT advocating that we should get rid of the different spellings of homophones. There is a big difference between to, too, and two and those should be strictly obeyed.

UPDATE 7:51pm January 24th: This post is now in the FAIL category as well because I published it without a title. I was trying to get it done because I really had to go to the bathroom. That will teach me to hurry these things up!

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