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I wanted to fix a typo in the title of this question when I saw that in the question body behaviour had been edited to behavior by another user.

Is this necessary? Should I (we) start to think about the spelling differences when answering or asking questions?

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In my opinion it doesn't really matter which version is used, but please don't change posts from one to the other unless there is good reason. Changing these when it isn't really necessary is more likely (than other edits) to spark an argument or edit war, and could well be construed as rude.

My take is that we should let the poster use whatever form of English they use personally - assuming of course the post is grammatically correct, readable, properly spaced, etc.

However, if you're in a post doing an edit and come across a case where you're really not sure, then please feel free to change a spelling to one you know is valid - at least that way we have an end result that is valid in at least one form of the language.

Conversely, tags should generally be US English, for consistency. But creating synonym connections between various spellings where appropriate means this becomes almost transparent to users when entering a tag.

Note: I'm a Brit, and like everyone will have some bias, but trying to step away from that - the main thrust here is that it's not necessary so why should we risk aggravating or alienating people?


A side note:

British English isn't only relevant to the population of Britain or the UK and it's other territories. The comments have provided Canada and India as examples where the local use of English is more aligned to British English than American, and having now thought about it I would assume this is also the case for some other Commonwealth countries as well, and possibly elsewhere.

And please be aware that the difference between the language forms isn't just spelling, you've already linked to the spelling difference article on Wikipedia, but check out the wider differences as well to see what I mean.


Here is an old Meta.SO post that has more depth on the subject.

  • 3
    Canadian spelling (I'm Canadian) seems to be more similar to British spelling than American spelling, and many folks I know will select "UK English" over "US English" in their programs when "CA English" isn't available. The fact that many computer programs default to "US English" does create some confusion outside of the USA, and I suspect a lot of this carries over into internet web sites. – Randolf Richardson May 30 '11 at 22:15
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    India uses UK English and we can expect more and more Indian super users in the new future. I think everyone should get used to the fact that US English and UK English exist side by side for good. – Andrew J. Brehm May 31 '11 at 9:12
  • I find that many people immigrating from China have learned Canadian English. I suspect they are choosing Canadian-oriented learning materials in the hopes of also learning a little bit about our culture before immigrating. – Randolf Richardson May 31 '11 at 16:51
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    @Randolf Richardson: Canadian English? NVIDIA Drivers are available in UK / US / India, but not in Canadian English? Just wondering... ;-) – Aki Jun 2 '11 at 18:41
  • @Aki: With NVidia, I would go with UK English as it's the closest match to Canadian English. I wasn't aware of India English, but I'm not surprised since Singapore as their own version of English too (known as "Singlish" I believe). – Randolf Richardson Jun 2 '11 at 21:38
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    @Andrew - I won't claim you're wrong, but when I worked with some people from Bangalore in the mid-to-late 90s, they used spellings that seemed much more American than British to me, and initially seemed unaware that British and American spellings differ. Maybe something where pragmatism outweighs a rusty official rule? – Steve314 Jun 2 '11 at 22:36
  • I always choose "US English" (Disclaimer: I live a few km from the border, but so do >25% of Canadians). – Mateen Ulhaq Jun 3 '11 at 1:43
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    @muntoo: I hope the Americans who live within a few km. from our border always choose "CA English." ;-P – Randolf Richardson Jun 3 '11 at 5:23
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    In Germany we would also learn the British spelling in school – Sebastian Godelet Jun 17 '11 at 6:17

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