Canadian Spelling… what’s the difference?

Canadian spelling has been historically linked to British standards. However, spelling conventions are constantly shifting on the ill-defined continuum between British and American English. Some argue that there is a regional bias to Canadian spelling: Ontario, British Columbia, and Atlantic Canada more closely follow British practices, while Alberta and the Prarie provinces have gravitated towards American conventions.[1]

Here are my recommendations to aspiring Canadian writers:

Buy the Canadian Oxford Dictionary, and don’t trust your word processor’s spell-check feature. The English (Canada) dictionary in Microsoft Word follows British conventions, even in cases where Canadian writers prefer American spelling.

Finally, follow the Spelling Guidelines listed below and your documents will be truly “Canadian”. To find out more guidelines for creating technical documents, visit my on-line style guide for technical communicators.

Spelling Guidelines

  • Where a verb has two past-tense forms, use either without preference (e.g. kneeled or knelt).
  • Use preferred spelling in the case of place names, businesses, book titles, movies, and other works.
  • Apply Canadian spelling to government departments and agencies (e.g. United States Department of Defence).
  • Diphthongs use American spelling in most cases. (exception: “oe” diphthongs such as manoeuvre).
  • The use of silent e+ suffix follows American or British standards.
  • Always use –our endings instead of the American –or.
  • Always use –re endings instead of the American –er.
  • Always use –yze endings instead of the British –yse.
  • The use of silent –l or –ll follows American or British standards.
  • Always use double consonants, following the British model, except combatting.

Canadian Spelling Conventions

Convention Examples
diphthongs
anemia
hemorrhage
orthopedia
c and s
defence
licence (n.) practice (n.)
license (v.) practise (v.)
foreign plurals
appendices
bureaus
indices
e + suffix
acknowledgement
judgment
livable
double consonant
combatting
libellous
pedaled
–l or –ll
appall
enrolment
instalment
–re not –er
centre
lustre
theatre
–our not –or
behaviour
flavour
humour
–yze not –yse
analyze
breathalyzer
catalyze

[1] Mastin, Luke. “Canadian, British and American Spelling.” Accessed December 9, 2011. http://www.lukemastin.com/testing/spelling/cgi-bin/database.cgi?action=home.

Advertisements

About paulkhillier

I am technical writer with a wealth of experience in education and design. Currently, I am furthering my advanced knowledge by studying Technical Communication at Seneca College in Toronto. Producing effective, readable documents is my passion, and I take pride in producing quality work.

Posted on December 7, 2011, in English, Technical Communication. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: