Spelling (and other) differences: Canada-US-UK
It’s all English, but
Canada-US-UK spelling differences
certainly do exist, and they are one of the first issues authors and their
editors should clear up in any manuscript, large or small. Whichever version
you use, the important thing is to be consistent throughout.
Canadians generally follow
the British tradition but, alas, not always. A specific Canadian mix of
American and British spellings constitutes the "Canadian" spellings.
Karen Bond and her
website, Karen’s Linguistics Issues, covers Canada-US-UK spellings. Karen
marks the most commonly used versions with an asterisk (*).
However, it can be a lot of
work and will take a lot of your valuable writing time to check each word that
might have different Canada-US-UK spellings. The best course of action is
simply to hire a good editor, one who will have memorized a lot of the most
common words that can have different spellings.
also a consideration here. If you want to tap the huge U.S. market, go
with American spellings. If retaining the flavour of your own English might
enhance your book, be it Canadian, British or American, then, of course, do so.
Again, just be aware of the Canada-US-UK spelling differences and try to be
Uniquely Canadian words, spellings and
“Eh?” – basically meaning “Don’t you think?”
It’s a conversational device that allows a non-confrontational Canadian
(most of us) to turn a statement into a poll of opinion.
- “Canuck” – nickname for a Canadian
- “clicks” – slang for kilometres per
- “hoser” – unsophisticated person
“keener” – boot-licker, brown-noser, suck-up
- “kerfuffle” – commotion or flurry of agitation
- “Molson muscle” – potbelly or beer belly (Molson
is a Canadian brand of beer.)
- “lineup” – line of people, queue
- “for sure!” – definitely
- “to be on pogey” – to be on welfare or social
assistance, most often refers to federal government Employment Insurance
- “mickey” – 375 ml. (13 oz.) bottle of liquor
“two-four” – case of beer containing 24 bottles
- “arse” – bum or fool, or one’s hind quarters.
- “give’em a shout” – to call someone on the phone
- “to phone someone” – to call someone on the
“going on holiday” – going on vacation
Unique Canadian food
– French fries covered with cheese curds and gravy and any of a plethora of other toppings
meat – similar to corned beef and served hot on a bun
on fries, believe it or not
on fries, especially fish and chips
tart – a small, pecan-pie-like tart, often with raisins, not pecans
- Nanaimo bar – a multi-layer brownie with icing
– a French Canadian meat pie
in a bag – comes in a group of three bags (not common everywhere in the country)
Canadians call it; Americans call it...
- Back bacon – Canadian bacon
- icing sugar – powdered sugar
- whitener – powdered
non-dairy creamer put in coffee or tea
- processed cheese – American
- chocolate bar – candy bar
- brown bread – whole wheat
- homo milk – whole milk
- Rye and ginger – Canadian whiskey and Ginger Ale
- write (a test) – take a test
- invigilate an exam – proctor
- tutorial – recitation
- mark a test – grade a test
- public school – elementary
- supply teacher – substitute
- college – community college
- zed (Z) – zee (Z)
- chesterfield – couch
- bill – what Canadians
ask for in a restaurant (Americans ask for the check)
- eavestrough – rain gutter on
the eaves (edge of the roof) of a house
- elastic – rubber band
- girl guides – girl scouts
- highway – freeway
- housecoat – robe or bathrobe
- hydro – electricity
- serviette – napkin
- tap – faucet or spigot
- washroom – bathroom
- track pants – sweat pants
- runners – tennis shoes
- muskoka chair – large,
usually wooden deck chair
- postal code – zip code
Many Canadianisms are of
British origin and can be found there as well.
- Five-pin bowling – a smaller
ball and only five pins – great for kids and drunks!
- Mountie – member of the
Royal Canadian Mounted Police (like the FBI)
- Toonie (or twonie) –
Canadian two-dollar coin (since 1996)
- toque (or tuque) – woollen,
usually pointed cap worn in the winter
- civic holiday – a government
sanctioned (provincial or federal) day off work for no good reason
- Canada uses the metric system, although they quote their
height and weight in feet/inches and pounds. Industry, for the most part, still
uses imperial units.
- For measuring temperature, Canada uses the
Celsius scale rather than the Fahrenheit.
- Canada celebrates Thanksgiving in October; the U.S. in
November. The Canadian holiday does not revolve around football as it does in
- Soda in the U.S. Is “pop” in Canada. It is made with corn syrup
in the U.S. and sugar in Canada, which
changes the taste significantly.
It has been said that
Canadians are simply disarmed Americans with health care.