Opinions

Color me bad—colour me right—Canadian spelling matters

Canadian outlined with words

STUART BROWN ILLUSTRATION

 
A recent memo forwarded via email by ACAD chair Richard Brown that lashed out at students who vandalized the artwork of their peers used a number of words, but most disappointing (besides the senseless property damage) was Brown’s incorrect spelling of “behaviour.”

He spelled it “behavior” either because a) He is American b) He hates the letter “u”, or c) the most likely scenario, he used spellcheck and it informed him that behaviour does not enjoy having an upside-down letter ‘n’ inside of it.

Canadians are increasingly crumbling under the pressure of the red squiggly lines as they continue to correct words such as colour and centre, because the language mother ship of Microsoft Word slaps their wrist every time they commit such an un-American manoeuvre.

Many will roll their eyes at what they perceive as a trivial matter, but language is the foundation of how we as a nation communicate and separate ourselves from the 190+ countries on the planet.

We are Canadian. We are not American. And although there is nothing wrong with claiming loyalty to either nation, slight alterations to spelling are what help keep each proud identity intact.

Canada uses the British spelling because the great red and white was founded by the English and the French, hence why français is our second language and makes guest appearances in Canadian English from time to time (such as cul-de-sac).

Americans are a republic and therefore hold no particular allegiance to the Commonwealth, explaining why the English language has mutated into its own version that Americans see fit to use.

Canadian English is already contending with the overuse of the term “like,” and it cannot handle another internal crisis. Canadian pride has skyrocketed since the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and this newfound satisfaction should not just be reserved for hockey games and beer chugging, but for proper usage of words such as colour, centre, and yes, behaviour.

Microsoft allows users to add words to its database, meaning that those menacing red squiggly lines can be evaporated or they can even just choose Canadian spelling on their options dialog box.

So tell Microsoft that it’s wrong when it screams that you have misspelled “honour” for the tenth time and include this wonderfully-extended term alongside others in your Word treasure chest.

This is Canada and we love our extra u’s and transposing our r’s and e’s.

When your American device demands that you conform to the language of the stars and stripes, remember why you wear a tuque, remember why you have three different-coloured snow shovels, remember why you think ice-fishing is fun, remember why you follow Bob McKenzie on Twitter and remember that the slight differences in our spelling is what makes us unique and beautiful as the nation of beaver dams and stray deer.

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