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The prevalence of social media has exposed us to the spelling and writing habits of the world. That would not be a problem if we Australians had a solid grounding in literature and an awareness of the problems that may be encountered when writing on the World Wide Web.

Having placed a post recently, I was derided for the spelling of the word ‘colour’ by an American commenter; he obviously was not aware that the world does not spell as the US spells. I let it go unremarked – what does it matter that one person on the other side of the world thinks I am an idiot for not spelling ‘color’ correctly? (My spellchecker has underlined the word in red as misspelled. Good spellchecker!)

These inconsistencies, if we are insecure about our spelling abilities (and too lazy to check a dictionary to see which is correct) can seep into our own writing.

“What does it matter?” I hear you say. It matters because these changes will show up in our daily lives as errors – does it matter if you spell words incorrectly in your workplace? Perhaps your colleagues won’t notice, but your customers and clients may pick it up. Prospective employers reading your resume will notice, prospective clients who read your advertising will notice. At ‘best’ it will be assumed you are from the USA, at worst you will look as if you cannot be bothered to check the dictionary or learn to spell correctly.

My point is that spelling is not really an issue when writing as a private person on a social forum such as Facebook, but when we let it creep into our business it can have a detrimental effect on our image.

When I was at school, we were given a list of words that were most likely to be misspelled; the books we read were usually printed in England, Australia, or the USA, so our spelling skills were subject to a continual battle between UK English and American English. Here are a few of those words that I have seen lately.

 

UK English American English
Words such as recognise, Anglicise, patronise all end in –ise. Those same words (and others like them) end in –ize.
Words such as labour, fervour, colour all end in –our. Those same words (and others like them) end in –or.
Jewellery Jewelry
Words such as centre, fibre, lustre all end in –re. Those same words (and others like them) end in –er.
Analyse Analyze

 

There are many other instances that bear research if you are interested in the subject. It may be enough to be aware that there are such differences.

Let us know if you have any other examples that jump out at you all the time – it never hurts to be kept on our toes!