I am working on an English-language online resource. It seems an obvious good idea to allow users to choose a version in British English or American English spelling. However, I've noticed that spell-checkers also provide options such as Canadian English, Australian English, South-African English, Jamaican English, Hong Kong English, and so on. I have always assumed that these variants are all basically British or American, with maybe a few minor details that are different. So my question is:

Are any of the other variants of English spelling significantly different from British or American spelling?

With significantly different, I mean that they don't just add a number of new words, like "wee" or "bairn" in Scotland, or French loan-words in Canada, but that basic English words are spelled differently, in the way that e.g. "colour/color", "analyse/analyze" and "theatre/theater" are spelled differently in the UK/USA.

(To be clear: I'm only interested in how great the difference is to an outside observer, not how important it is to e.g. a Canadian person to be able to select "Canadian English" instead of having to select "British English". I'm also not interested in differences in grammar.)


1 Answer 1


Whether differences are "significant" is a matter of opinion. The dichotomy of US-UK is a simplification (for example, the spelling —ize is not exclusively American, but can also be found in some British writers). You could group Canadian English and Australian English spelling with British English, but Canadian writers tend to use -ize spellings, like American writers.

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