What's up with 'u' 2023 edition
Where I ramble about language, spelling and Canadian raising
I wrote a blog post a long while ago about some oddities you might notice in my writing, but new newsletter, new readers — you might not have seen it. Feel free to jump to the writing updates if you’ve found nothing odd in my writing.
What’s up with “u”?
If you read the words I’m putting down, you might notice a few odd words or some unusual spellings, whether you follow the
Queen’s King’s English or that of the USA. They’re not typos.
I'm Canadian. A Canuck. A hoser even. So, what does that have to do with 'u'?
Well, I made the decision early on to write in Canadian English, which is not the same as either that in the UK or the USA.
Which begs the question — why the heck would I do that when it just confuses everyone?
1. I'm lazy
Canadian English flows more naturally for me. Even if I did a find and replace for the “our” in colour or neighbour, I'm sure I'd miss some. And I'd certainly miss some of the Canadianisms — I try not to put too many in, but there are words I don't even realize are Canadian slang. Who knew hooped was a Canadianism? Not exclusively but primarily. It means borked, fubar, we're up some kinda creek without a paddle … we’re hooped.
2. I love language
I love it so much I'm working my way through the History of English podcast. It goes all the way back to the roots of the Indo-European language group, and there've been more than a few aha moments along the way. Like cancer and canker come from the same root; it just travelled different routes into English. Fascinating! Yes, I know some people will say 'I don't think fascinating means what you think it means'.
I realize not everyone agrees, but I love the quirks and foibles of English. It's a living language and that shows in its diversity.
3. I write 'American'
every day most days
The most obvious alternative would be to write in American English...that's the largest market for English books. When I first wrote the original blog post, I was a technical writer, using American English all day, ever day. My job has since changed — I only write for external consumption occasionally — but when I do, it’s for an American company targeting a global audience … which means I’m using American English. So I want to mix it up and do my little bit to keep the richness of the language alive.
So what does this mean in practice?
Well, I write flavour instead of flavor and travelled instead of traveled (in keeping with the English) but realize instead of realise (like the Americans). Throw in a few Canadianisms like skookum, toque and give’er, and it's really a hodge podge. So if you notice neighbour and colour mixed with realize and civilize (with a zed, not a zee), it's not a typo. It's that I'm a Canuck. Gezundheit!
Hopefully, my language quirks don't bump you out of the story too much. And forgive me if a random keener, mickey, or bunny hug reference slips through.
If you have linguistic quirks, or just love language, I’d love to hear about it.
An aside: let’s talk about Out and About
A few posts ago, I wrote about trying out AI narration for a couple of my books since real, human narrators were out of reach financially. So, what does that have to do with all the “U”s in Canada, you ask?
The AI narrators don’t speak General Canadian English. They also don’t speak Philly English or Yorkshire English. I love that diversity as well, and I wonder how that will change if the only language we hear in media is a homogenized version.
When I speak, I have something called Canadian raising, though it’s not confined by borders. We don’t say oot and aboot — a boot is something you put on your foot before you put your toque on. However, we start our diphthong higher up and furhter back in the mouth but end in the same spot, which means it’s much shorter distance to travel … making it some closer to a single vowel. It also affects words like might and bike.
I keep working on my little break short story … that’ll probably end up being 10K words. Then I have more edits than I hoped to finish up book 3 of The Lyra Cycle — a writer’s editing is never done.
In the meantime, book 1 of The Lyra Cycle is the February book of the month for paid Armchair Alien subscribers. And my partner in crime has a new short story starting, Case File 7: The One with all the Elephants.
What I’m reading & watching
So much! Ive finally started Andor, which is what I signed up for Disney+ to watch and I’m into the latest season of The Umbrella Academy.
In books, I finished A Desolation Called Peace, the follow-up to A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine … the worldbuilding in this series is exquisite. I followed that up with The Mountain in the Sea — it had me at super intelligent octopuses. It wasn’t the book I expected but I’d recommend it.
Books for your TBR shelf
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Where to find my books
If you’d like to read any of my scifi or urban fantasy books, you can find them at your favourite online retailers. Or you can buy them direct from me on the Armchair Alien store.
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