As a writer, there’s one thing that trips me up frequently as I go about my hobby, and it really annoys me.
Any guesses? No? Well, here it is: it’s the inability for software producers to recognize that there is indeed such a thing as Canadian English, as subtle a difference as it might be from American English. My beef is that even in 2017, every word processor, every iPhone, every copy of friggin’ Firefox (where I write this post) underlines Humour as an apparent non-word, while Humor is the literary heir apparent. I got news for you: North of 49, it isn’t.
Canada, being what it is, a cultural love child carrying genes from both the USA and Britain, borrows etymology (word structure origin) from both countries, and it’s been this way for awhile. So the “U” we pop into such a word — along with another example like colour — we borrow from the British; on the other hand, those rubbery donuts you roll your car on top of, well, we call those tires like most Americans (in the UK, it’d be a tyre). Like I said, it’s a blend.
I know; there’s a workaround in most computers, where you can load a Canadian keyboard layout and spell-checker to remedy this issue. The problem is that it’s an inelegant solution, lumping together all the diacritic marks for our French Canadian brethren in Québec, in all the places where you’d expect regular English punctuation to be (A diacritic, by the way, is the term for phonetic symbols above letters. There’s one in this paragraph for good measure, see if you can find it).
I guess that one of the perks for constantly threatening to separate from the rest of Canada, is getting your own keyboard layout as a consolation prize to stick it out with the anglophiles.
Want to know what’s even more annoying? In all of this, “eh” is recognized as a word, both in computer spell checks and the American psyche of surely how all Canadians speak. Yet this slang term is not nearly as commonplace as the random Canuck characters that make cameo appearances on US sitcoms would suggest (it’s also just that: a slang term, and therefore it should have the damn underline). I honestly think the whole eh thing is used as part of the denigration machine to make Americans chuckle and feel better about their drawl and lilt collection.
Forget nationalism; if you just look at us as software consumers, well then there’s 40 million pissed off customers who’d like a better solution. We have two languages: Canadian English and Canadian French. Please, just throw us a software patch already and get rid of the red squigglies below colour, centre, litre, and all the others I can’t remember right now.
- Wikipedia’s musings on Canadian English.
- The Québec sovereignty movement.
- Canadian keyboard frustration.