One discovers only now a memo from Toronto city councillor Howard Moscoe (PDF) from May 2009 about how City of Toronto computers interfere with writing Canadian.

Every time my spellcheck kicks out a Canadian spelling I feel like I’ve been kicked in my Canadian identity. It’s bad enough when my American spellcheck does it, but it really hurts when it is sanctioned by my municipal government. At present all of our software defaults to American English.

He then complains these defaults never get fixed even after he reports them. Fine.

The colourful, rotund former TTC commissioner then goes on to list a number of particularly troublesome words. But some aren’t really a problem.

  • Half the time, Canadian writers use a single consonant in words like barreled and pummeled. The other half of the time, we use a double consonant. Hence those two terms and councillor, equalled, gruelling, labelled, levelled, marvellous, modelling, panelled, ravelled, shrivelled, signalled, spiralled, totalled, travelled, traveller, tunnelled, woollen, and indeed yodelled are just as correct as the other spellings.
    • Jeweller is just as correct as jeweler. (Jewellery, which he doesn’t mention, makes no sense to me, but is the majority usage.)
  • “Check” could mean “check” or “cheque,” hence is not always an error. Paycheck surely is, though.
  • Manoeuver is wrong in Canadian English, but Moscoe’s preferred maneuver is just as wrong. (It’s one of our trickiest words. Manoeuvre is the closest thing to a “correct” spelling. It produces unpleasant compounds like outmanoeuvred.)
  • Saltpetre is a correct spelling that will nonetheless be unrecognizable. It’s a strange name for an archaic and obscure substance.
  • Pyjama is not per se a Canadian spelling. I say this in full defiance of the Canadian Oxford’s listing it first. I shall fight you on the beaches on this one, pummelling you with so much titred saltpetre it will leave you yodelling and shrivelled.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2009.09.17 13:32. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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None. I quit.

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