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Monday, January 24, 2011

Canadian spelling

I was surprised just now to see this in an Ontario government job posting:
"•You have demonstrated knowledge of and the ability to interpret the Ontario Human Rights Code and the effect of discriminatory attitudes, behaviors and practices."
"Behaviour" without a "u"? Is this a sign that Canadians' long-held preference for British spellings on -o(u)r words is waning? Or simply that someone just let an American spellchecker make the decisions? Fascinating.


  1. I wonder about the word "fascinating". In French it is not used very often, as it is really strong, and not a lot of things can be said to be "fascinantes". Yet in English it seems to be used much more, and after reading your text here, I realise it may well be used ironically, quite often. Am I right?

  2. You are quite right, "fascinate" and its derivatives are fairly frequent. However, I wasn't being ironic in this post. I really am fascinated (very interested, intrigued) by this development. I think people usually use this word without ironic intent, though of course, as with every word, one could use it ironically.

  3. Fascinating !!
    Thank you for your explanation, as it makes so much sense now : as it is no as strong a word as in French, it is not used ironically so much. But a very strong word such as "fascinant" has much greater impact when used ironically for little things.


About Me

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Canada's Word Lady, Katherine Barber is an expert on the English language and a frequent guest on radio and television. She was Editor-in-Chief of the Canadian Oxford Dictionary. Her witty and informative talks on the stories behind our words are very popular. Contact her at wordlady.barber@gmail.com to book her for speaking engagements; she can tailor her talks to almost any subject. She is also available as an expert witness for lawsuits.