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Linguaholic

Spell Checkers: Why are they Always American?


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I find it really difficult to find spell checkers willing to accept the Canadian/British/Australian etc. spellings over the American version of the word.

Mind you, on the web I have less of a problem. I find even if I set my computer to English(UK), I am still getting the American version of the word.

So I guess my question is, are there really that many more people out there that write the American English? Really? I would think there are more of us than them. I guess we just were not the ones who wrote the software.

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I really think it does have a lot to do with the creators of the software. What programs' spell checkers are marking the non-American versions as wrong? Depending on the program, you can change the dictionary to British English. However, it's perplexing that the programs aren't aware that you're using British English as your system language, unless it was set to American English when you first installed these programs.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I guess it has to do with where most of the computer programmers are coming from nowadays! Students in many Asian countries like China, Korea and Japan learn American English and I'm sure computer software developed in those areas would be translated into American English versions first.

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I don't even know the difference between the American and other versions of English. All I know is that people can understand whatever I wan to convey through my words. Ghat's the best thing!

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It is pretty annoying for someone who has studied British English all his life. You type in an entire post and there'll be red lines everywhere. It's not neighbour but neighbor, not colour but color, not realise but realize and so on.

I know it is understandable that most of them are American but we should really have an option of switching between spell checkers.

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I have to say that most of time I completely ignore what the spell checkers say. I don't know whym but most of the times the one of my computer simply underlines everything. Evrything. Aah, and it is even more fun when I try to integrate English words into a text in Bulgarian or vice versa. The thing is going crazy.

So I never had the time to actually pay attention if the spell checker is set on American English or British. Actually I've been told I that when I write and speak I mix them both together. Shame on me I guess, but I can't really help it. Most of my "practical" English I learnt from reading blogs - and the authors were from all over the world.

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I feel that English spell checkers are highest in demand and most universally used, which is why they are almost always English. If you can find one for Spanish that would be great and I would be interested. I have Firefox, so there's a spellcheck built right in.

If you're using Word, you can adjust the spellcheck language to any language you need.

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I feel that English spell checkers are highest in demand and most universally used, which is why they are almost always English. If you can find one for Spanish that would be great and I would be interested. I have Firefox, so there's a spellcheck built right in.

If you're using Word, you can adjust the spellcheck language to any language you need.

I agree with this! Also, I feel like most developers are probably native English-speakers.

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I'm Canadian, and I agree its annoying that everyone is US-English-centric. I also find it annoying how Americans tend to call their English "American" (I worked at a call centre before, and people would say "it's nice to have someone who speaks American).  Sorry, but American is a nationality, not a language. Most spell checkers have the option to set to different variations of English.

The differences are only understood in writing, they don't sound different (though there are some words that are used differently in the various regions).

UK English uses "u" in words "Colour", "Neighbour" etc

US omits the added "u": Color, Neighbour

Canadian English is mostly like UK English.  It uses "u", but has a few US spellings such as "jail" instead of "gaol".  Yet, our grammar is more US than UK.  Confused yet?

As to the why,  most companies that make it are US-based, or if foreign use US because its more prominent than the other variations. 

Still. I agree, its irritating.  (No offence to Americans, of course. :) )

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  • 3 months later...

Some computers do have a setting to change the spell checker to a different language.

It does annoy me though, how I won't know if I actually spelt the word wrong, or if they just think that I spelt it wrong.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Could be the intention of the software developers is to condition every English speaker to learn American English. After all, if you're using an American English spell checker then in future, to avoid seeing red lines all over your text, you'll use the American version of the word the next time you write. And guess what, that's the first step to "Americanization."

Come to think of it, it's not so bad after all; if you want "one language to rule them all."

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I think there are more American English users is because of the exposure of all things American with entertainment being the biggest factor. We are exposed to American cultures, their way of speaking, and of course their English. It's just how we are raised, American English is more mainstream which is why most spell checkers use American English.

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It is pretty annoying for someone who has studied British English all his life. You type in an entire post and there'll be red lines everywhere. It's not neighbour but neighbor, not colour but color, not realise but realize and so on.

I know it is understandable that most of them are American but we should really have an option of switching between spell checkers.

Well what is happening now is that base on where you come from and it also depend on how you speak, the way we pronounce, Ariel, Americans pronounce the name totally different from us.

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  • 5 weeks later...

I agree that it can be annoying when there's no option to choose the country setting on a spellchecker such as the one here, although as someone else pointed you can do it if you're using Word. I guess that since the world is becoming more Americanized, US English is increasingly being used as the 'default' version of the language. I am actually British and grew up speaking and writing UK English, but as a professional writer I also write in US English when needed (I have lived in the US too so I know how to use US phrasing as well as spelling and grammar). I can also write in Canadian English, which is a bit different again, as someone pointed out above. In fact, if I'm not sure which one to use, I normally write like an American these days since it's simply a more universal type of English.

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I think it is set up like that just because American English is still the prominent standard, internationally speaking. We all use sites like Google and Facebook and those are American sites, and I doubt they would choose putting British or Canadian English as a priority standard against their own. It's not just in the main websites we use too, it's also pretty much the same when it comes to movies and literature, so I'm not really that much surprised.

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  • 2 weeks later...

In my opinion, the spell checker of Microsoft Word is American because the software has been developed by Microsoft which is an American company. So, it is all but natural that it checks the spellings with American English as its base. But they are trying to bridge this gap in the new versions of Microsoft Word where they have provided options for different versions of English in order to cater to a global audience.

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  • 4 months later...

This is a fact that I always think of too. As a person that uses the British English it can sometimes be frustrating. It may even be that in order to make sure your spelling is correct you would be better off using a dictionary. I think the designers should have alternative spell check so that everyone is accommodated for.

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My problem with microsoft word is actually the opposite. If I want to type behavior, it'll tell me that behaviour is the correct spelling. I don't mind using British English but it's more because I've gotten used to American English. I know a lot of people will say British English is more correct, but for me what's important is that you're able to communicate.

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