American Spelling in Canada

Glen   Tue May 22, 2007 10:57 pm GMT
Hi everybody!
I would like to know in which parts of Canada American Spelling is still used...(traveler, harbor) I've been told that people in Western parts of this country (B.C.) prefer the American spelling. Is it true?
Do people consider this spelling ''different'' or not?

many thanks
Josh Lalonde   Wed May 23, 2007 2:10 am GMT
I've never heard of any regional variation in spelling here in Canada, and I've never noticed anyone consciously choosing an American variant. Even if there were a preference for American forms in BC, so much of the media is at a national level that Canadian standard spellings would probably dominate. Spelling is one of the things that Canadians use to prove that they're not American, so I doubt many people would use American spellings.
Damian in Edinburgh   Wed May 23, 2007 8:03 am GMT
To most Brits (and I reckon, most Europeans) Canada appears to be little different from America - on the face of it....that's important to know - on the face of it. They sound American (until you're able to notice the shades of difference in certain words), their culture looks very similar and their environment looks identical but that's to be expected as Canada is, like the USA, a "young" country by British/European standards. They even drive on the right - but that's where Britain differs from the rest of Europe but that's irrelevant to this topic.

As for spellings and idiomatic expressions I always imagined that the Canadians followed the American pattern - eg color, traveled, defense, meager, harbor and all that sort of caper. Now it seems thay they don't. It just shows how wrong you can be when you're not really familiar with the countries involved, but we over here do know that the Canadians go to great lengths to prove their own sovereign nationhood and that they are so not Americans! Using British spellings is obviously one way of demonstating this separate identity.

I know from personal experience how wound up and pissed off Canadians can be when they are mistaken for Americans. :-) We have a really cool barman down at one of our pubs here who comes from a place called Thunder Bay, Ontario, and no matter what he wears there is a very prominent red maple leaf badge attached to his chest. He also says that once you cross the border from the USA you know immediately that you're in a completely different country - in some respects there are signs of British influence, even though the accents all around seem the same as the Americans' - on the face of it, at least to Brit/European ears.
Shatnerian   Wed May 23, 2007 8:28 am GMT
I seem to be on the opposite end of the spectrum. I live in the United States, but I use a mix of American, British, and Canadian spellings. I use colour, favourite, centre, and theatre, and I switch back and forth between -ize and -ise endings. However, Canadians also generally use -ize instead of -ise. In addition, I do not write "curb" as "kerb" or "connection" as "connexion". I also use the American style of dropping the "e" when adding a suffix. For example, in the United Kingdom, they would write "likeable", but I would write "likable".

I am just very Conservative in certain regards. I would possibly leave the country if they passed one of the more extreme spelling reform ideas.
Guest   Wed May 23, 2007 8:53 am GMT
You mean that you're weird, not conservative. XD
Mark   Wed May 23, 2007 11:14 am GMT
Canadian Spelling although similar to American vocabulary, features many British terms, and several distinctive Canadianisms. There also exists French influence in many areas, and notable local variations.

It is my distinct impression however that Canada is gradually moving towards a US style of spelling, due to the influence of the US in that area.
Josh Lalonde   Wed May 23, 2007 9:06 pm GMT
The only "US influence" I can see on Canadian spelling is that some changes in the 18th or 19th century that the UK and the rest of the Commonwealth adopted were not generally accepted in Canada: -ize to -ise for example. There are also a few words that are different, but where I'm not sure which is the earlier one: tire/tyre, jail/gaol, curb/kerb. In all these cases, Canada agrees with the US. I think the UK is moving away from some of these spellings though. US innovations like 'center' and 'labor' have never been popular here; they may occur, but they are generally rejected as too American. As Damian said, there isn't a whole lot of difference between us and the US, so we have to find something to play up; spelling is an easy one.
Kess   Thu May 24, 2007 12:56 am GMT
''US innovations like 'center' and 'labor' have never been popular here; they may occur, but they are generally rejected as too American.''

Not true. Oxford Canadian dictionary lists both variants:

colour or color
traveller or traveler
and so on

color is not considered an Americanism, but check for cheque is, see:

colour (or color).
traveller (or traveler).
cheque (or especially US check)
Guest   Thu May 24, 2007 8:22 am GMT
Living on the East Coast of Canada the influence of American spelling isn't that popular as oppose to the West Coast.

I may spell 'colour' or 'centre' but never 'tyre' but as 'tire' I guess its the popular American automobile market.

'ISE' Never saw that used in Canada ever!
Guest   Sun May 27, 2007 5:01 pm GMT
I live in Western Canada and I use "or" rather "our" because it's shorter, but "re" rather than the American "er".
Guest   Sun May 27, 2007 8:49 pm GMT
<<"connection" as "connexion">>

Don't think I've ever seen "connexion" used in Britain.

<<US innovations like 'center' and 'labor'>>

Not really US innovations as such, they tended to be well used along with "harbor", around the time that Jamestown was founded 400 years ago.

<<'tyre' but as 'tire'>>

Some American spellings were accepted into British English around the time of WWI. Cyder, cypher and syren all changed to their modern spellings with an "i". Some publishers also used "tire" but it doesn't seem to have caught on. Around this time jail also started being used instead of gaol.
Guest   Sun May 27, 2007 8:54 pm GMT
>> Don't think I've ever seen "connexion" used in Britain. <<
Connexion is a variant spelling of "connection", common until at least the 18th century