|Maybe I'll just bang my|
head against a wall...
See, here's the thing. As a Canadian writer, I encounter puzzling word situations like this ALL THE TIME. When I began to write with the hope of being published, I decided I would write my stories in American English.* This might come as a surprise to some of you, but when it comes to written English, there is a metric crap ton (tonne?) of issues for a Canadian writer. We're in a funny position here in Canada: we're stuck somewhere linguistically between the US and the UK with a dash of le français thrown in for good measure. (Did you know Canada's two official languages are English and French?) What this means is that all of the words I knew how to spell, suddenly I maybe don't.
Do you know what a toque is? Up here it's what some of you would call a beanie, a knitted hat, or a stocking cap. In Canada it's just toque thanks to the Francophone influence in our country, but I would probably never write a story using this word. And then there are all of the extra 'U's that we use thanks to all of the British influence. Around these parts it's favoUrite, coloUr, humoUr, flavoUr, honoUr, neighboUr, among others. And then there's the ER vs. RE situation: centRE, mediocRE, theatRE, and so on. And SE vs. CE: adviCE or adviSE, offenCE or offenSE...GUE vs. G in monoloGUE, dialoGUE, cataloGUE...and on and on it goes. Sometimes I simply don't know which spelling to use.
You have no idea how many times I've typed the words "is it _________ or ________?" into my search engine. It's approaching ridiculous.
But it doesn't end with just differences in spelling. Sometimes the issue arises whether to hyphenate or compound words or simply leave them separate. I think as Canadians we have a tendency to compound words that would be hyphenated or left as two separate words in the United States. This is something I never had to ponder in school, but as a writer am now constantly questioning. Thanks to this bizarro CanAmeriBritFrench stew of a language I've acquired in my thirty some odd years on the earth, writing certainly never gets dull. It's possible I'm the only person completely baffled and befuddled by all of this, though I'd like to think I'm not the only one going slowly crazy trying to choose between likeable and likable. I mean, we speak the same language, for crying out loud...but at the same time kind of don't. Interesting, sure, but also a little exhausting. Suddenly, it's no longer just zed vs. zee anymore (any more?).
HOW ABOUT YOU? HAVE YOU RUN INTO ANY SURPRISING SPELLING AND/OR GRAMMAR SITUATIONS IN YOUR WRITING?
* Mainly in the attempt to get an American agent and hopefully get picked up by an American publisher.