It’s All English, or Is It?

Tomorrow Today I have a paper due for college.

Let’s read that one again…

Today I have a paper due for college.

WTF?! Once I get over the initial shock of that (mind you I did take 3 courses in the summer of ’08 that required some essay writing, so it hasn’t been THAT long) let me also point out that this is my first paper due in a college in the United States of America.  This means my Canadian usage of u in words such as favourite, neighbour or colour, and spellings of theatre and centre and so on with ‘re’ instead of ‘er’, have to be thoughtfully altered to fit the local spelling criteria. There are many other examples. Thankfully the ‘red squiggly line’ of spell checkers usually highlights the Canadian ‘error’, but I’ve taken to ignoring them or even adding them to my dictionary. It’s a piece of my identity, and I quite like it. It’s hard to give it up. I told my husband of my woes and he said something along the lines of telling them to suck it up and don’t drop the u. Easier said than done when you want to be graded fairly on a paper and not marked for spelling “errors”, even if I think it’s not right.

I don’t really understand the purpose behind the spelling differences, but a little Googling reveals some rumours that Benjamin Franklin had something to do with it, by altering some spellings to further differentiate America from Britain after the Declaration of Independence. *eyyyye roooll*. However, that may not have been the only reasons, since he really wanted to change (majorly) the spelling of the English language. See herehere and here for some info. This is also a really interesting guide to differences in American and British English. As a Canadian it’s even more confusing because we use a combination of both U.S. and U.K. spelling and language variations. I mean, the English language is screwed up enough as is, but I am glad it’s not as crazy as Ben Franklin wanted it.

So, back to the topic at hand. Most people wouldn’t realize that there’s a small language barrier, if we can call it that, between these two countries (Canada and the U.S.), but I guess other than a few spellings, terms and accents, there’s really nothing major. It’s not much different than someone from the southeast U.S., or northeast even, moving elsewhere in America and having to adjust to weird foods and new terms. Or, someone moving from the Maritimes to just about anywhere else in Canada (Quebec not included, since they’re a whole other world anyway). Moving from the U.K., NZ or Australia to America or Canada (or the other way around) would be a more drastic change, despite not learning a ‘new’ language entirely.  I think that showcases even more why I feel that I am an ‘invisible‘ immigrant here.