Anyone else have a problem with Canadian/UK spelling?

So what is wrong with this cover?

Some folks might say it is the spelling.

We Canadians have certain ways of spelling words.

What an American might call a “harbor” we call a “harbour”.

It isn’t pronounced ANY differently but we’ve got that darned letter “u” stuck there in the middle of it.

Speaking of middle if you row out into the heart of an American harbor you are probably at the center of things – but if you row out into the heart of a Canadian harbour you will find yourself at the centre.

Is this making sense?

Let us say that you are out there in the center of that American harbor and you wanted to practice up on your home surgery techniques – well, you might want to indulge in a little American anesthesia.

While, if you are practicing up on that Youtube video of “How To Remove Your Own Appendix” in the centre of that Canadian harbour you might need a little Canadian anaesthesia.

Around here, we call that beer.


I could go on with a whole catalogue/catalog of Canadian spellings versus American spelling because I have ALWAYS had problems with this sort of thing.

For starters, I write for a Nova Scotia publisher – but I also write for my indie releases which mostly sell to Americans.

And I have received a few one-star Amazon reviews regarding my faulty grammar and spelling errors – which I directly attribute to my Canadian spelling.

I have my Spell-Check set to American spellings to try and combat this tendency of mine – but it still doesn’t seem to help all that much.

The funny thing is I really don’t enjoy most British writing. My wife adores her British historicals and her parlor/parlour mysteries – but I can only take so much of the British dialect before I reach for a Joe Lansdale, Raymond Chandler or Stephen Hunter novel.

I am a great fan of Guinness stout, though. I don’t really care HOW you spell that stuff just so long as you pour it in my glass!

So – what words are YOU most likely to misspell?

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22 responses to “Anyone else have a problem with Canadian/UK spelling?

  1. I wrote an entire 161K manuscript in Canadian. Then someone told me to change it to American… Even with spell check it’s a lot of work! I’m stickin’ to Canadian-coloured writing on my blog though, eh?


  2. ‘Steve, I cannot overcome my Canadian spelling even with Spell Check. I cannot do without the “u”. My teachers taught me well. πŸ™‚



  3. Neighbour for sure. Also, donut. I didn’t know that donut was spelled doughnut elsewhere but even Tim’s doesn’t abide by that rule. πŸ™‚ Food for thought!


  4. I’m an American and I’m constantly getting in trouble for toward/towards (I like the S). I prefer glamour to glamor but I also prefer rigor to rigour. There’s something about the way the word looks (glamour is somehow balanced while glamor is not) and that’s personal preference. I know the meaning of the word regardless of how it’s spelled and I’m more concerned about the idea being conveyed (I need to understand it). The only thing spelling does for me is make a mental note to see where the author hails from (some Australian authors use the English spellings too).


    • Funny thing, Angie. I actually agree with you on both glamour and rigor.

      Glamour – as opposed to glamor – just seems a little more “glamourous” and elegant when it is spelled with that “u”.

      Rigor – well that just NEEDS to be a sharp, brittle sort of word. Adding that extra “u” tends to soften that word, to my eye.

      My problem is I have always been more of an instinctive sort of writer when it comes to grammar, syntax AND spelling.

      I hate rules. Hate them with a passion.


  5. Reblogged this on The eBook Evangelist and commented:
    American versus Canadian/UK spelling – What do you think?

    I tend to get confused if I don’t know going in. And sometimes, as Steve Vernon points out, trying to turn Canadian spelling in to what we are used to in the US makes it even more complicated. What’s your preference?


  6. πŸ™‚ My pleasure. It is an interesting issue as national boundaries are slowly opening up. Both readers and writers may need to be more aware of language subtleties going forward as books are more available to a global audience.


  7. As an editor, I’m always enforcing and correcting things to Canadian spelling. What kills me is that autocorrect and spellcheck can’t seem to get on board with our “U”s and “OUGH”s and “AE”s!


  8. I DESPISE American spelling. Sigh, I’m usually so open about this stuff (considering I’m a speech therapist and kinda a linguistic nerd), but I always always notice when things are spelled the American way and am SO disappointed when I read a Canadian author who spells things the American way. So… if I read your books and they were spelled without the “u” that would be a ding against you for me…cuz, well, you ARE Canadian, so write like one πŸ™‚

    Then again, I have recently discovered that, like most things, Canadians are a funny middle ground between the US and the UK. There are spelling differences that are beyond what we do here… as in using an “s” instead of a “z” in words like “realise”- which just looks weird to me (and so French πŸ˜‰ ).

    So there you go. You really can’t win.


    • I hear what you are saying – but I have got to think practically over such matters. The US is a big old market and if I want to successfully peddle my wares down there I ought to at least have the good manners to speak/write in their own language – which, by my way of thinking means adopting their peculiar spelling foibles.

      I will agree on one thing, though.

      “Realize” spelled without the “z” (and I call that a “zed”) is definitely a strain on the eyes. πŸ™‚


  9. U people sure do like that U. Thanks visit my blog.


  10. Oh, there is no answer to this one. I’m Spanish. I’ve lived in the UK for a long time, so I usually use British spelling, although I studied American Literature and love their books (yes, also quite a few Canadian authors….) But I’m Spanish so I also write and translate from Spanish to English and viceversa. And if you think English is complicated…well, Spanish is a whole new/old world. So I have no idea in what language I write, let aside spelling…Let’s ask Google!


    • At the end of the day language is an organic concept. It is very hard to lay down rules and regulations and to expect them to hold up for very long.

      I grew up in Canada and I have hitchhiked across the country a couple of times and I found that different regions spoke different dialects – so any language is going to eventually be bastardized by its users.

      It comes down to interpretation, I guess.

      I am thinking about A Day In The Life of Ivan Denisovitch. I read one copy and loved it and read it again. Then, years later, I picked up another copy by another translator and it absolutely stunk. It came down to how the translator interpreted the original novel. One translation agreed with my tastes, while another made my stomach sour.

      So, between the UK and Canada and America – I think that I write mostly in Vernonese.


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