Forms of Rhetoric: Spelling the American vs. Canadian way

I was recently looking through one of my favourite books, The Canadian Press Caps and Spelling 19th Edition (what? I’m a rhetorician. Naturally this would be one of my favourites 😉 And yes I was flipping through it just for fun. Nerd!), and I have to say that there were a few words in there that I was surprised about. I’d been spelling them “wrong”* without even realizing it!

By “wrong”, I mean that I was spelling them the American way. I thought that I knew most of the words that are spelled differently in Canada and the States, but it turns out that there are some words that I didn’t even know had two different spellings.

Here’s the thing: when you’re writing something like a blog or a letter to a friend, if you use American or Canadian spelling of different words, it really doesn’t matter. But if you’re writing journalistic pieces or really anything professional, you have to be really careful about getting the spelling correct. Spelling matters!

So these are a few of the words that I was completely ignorant of how I should have been spelling them, as a Canadian:

Licence (American: license)

Manoeuvre (American: maneuver)

Pedlar (American: peddler)

What words have you come across lately that surprised you in how they are spelled?

*Obviously, if you’re in the States, then the Canadian spelling would be “wrong” for you.

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5 comments

  • Liz Wx says:

    yo, good old Canada, has kept the English spelling of these words. Except maybe peddler. Not sure about that. Do you also have the disticntion between practice and practise, where one is about your professional activity as a lawyer or doctor, for instance, and the other is about try, try, and try again? Of course the real English speciality is words, especially names, that are pronounced nothing whatsoever like the way they are spelt. Leicester, Towcester, Cholmondoly… both Oxford and Cambridge Universties have a Magdalen College. Oxford’s is pronounced Maudlin, Cambridge’s is pronounced Magdalen. No wonder King George had a stutter! He was probably trying to remember how on earth he was suppposed to pronounce whatever it was 🙂

    The Chrischurch Earthquake has spawned a new word: ‘mumped’. The mayor uses it on TV when he obviously wants to say the street is totally f****d. A fabulous addition to the language! Family-friendly but expressive expletives are rare nd wonderful things!

  • Liz wx says:

    Can’t believe how many typos I made in that comment – ironic, in a comment about spelling! Sorry.

    • Sagan Morrow says:

      Hehehe! Too funny.

      We do have the distinction between practice and practise (I actually recently made that mistake in an article – oops! But luckily someone else caught it).

      “Mumped”? Seriously? Oh my goodness that just might have to make it into a Random Rare Word blog post… love it!

  • westwood says:

    Didn’t know about pedlar! That one is particularly strange.

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