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Watch Your Language in Front of Your Online Customers

Watch Your Language

Most people think English is English. Not so. There are many variations within the language including different phrases and spelling, depending on where in the world you are. The most discrepancies occur between the United States and Canada. That's because in Canada, we speak, read and write the Queen's English; in the U.S., they speak, read and write American English. To the untrained eye, the two languages look the same, but if you visit Web sites in both countries often enough, you're sure to notice subtle differences.

If you happen to be a linguist (and really, how many of us are?), you know the Queen's English as "Received Pronunciation". That's the standard language spoken in the south of England. Canadian English is a hybrid of the Queen's English with some American English thrown in for good measure. And last but not least, American English is, well, American.

So what are the differences? For the most part, there are not many. Unless, of course, you are dealing with some very specific words. For example:

  • In Canada/England, it's "flavour"; in the U.S., it's "flavor".
  • In Canada/England, it's "honour"; in the U.S., it's "honor".
  • In Canada/England, we write a "cheque" to pay a bill. in the U.S., they write a "check".
  • In Canada/England we go to the "centre" of a room; in the U.S., they go to the "center".
  • In Canada, we seek legal counsel from "defence attorneys"; in the U.S. they are "defense lawyers".
  • In Canada, we buy "jewellery"; in the U.S., they buy "jewelery".

Those are just a few examples of how the two languages differ. When writing content for a Web site, it's important to know which version of the language you need to use. More often than not, there will be no differences, but when there are, remember your "ou" in words like "flavour", "honour" and "colour". In the U.S. you can omit the "u". A great source of information is Wikipedia's page, which gives you a pretty comprehensive lowdown on the major differences. When in doubt, consult your Toronto SEO consultant. We make it our business to have all the answers!

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