Originally Posted by sneals2000
(Totally off-topic - but is the English English vs American English spelling issue North American wide - or just US-specific? Does Canada spell colour or color, neighbour or neighbor, centre or center etc.?)
Canada retains the UK spellings. As a matter of fact, other than the American sounding accents except for some differences where the US English we use short O for words like PROCESSOR and they use long O's like the UK and words with "ou" like 'about' that sounds more like "a boat" where the US says "a bowt", someone from the UK would think they were still in the UK, except for driving on the right side of the road and using the Canadian dollar instead of the pound note. The Queen and things related to monarchy are still very much in evidence in Canada today.
Many things are "the Royal" this or that and there are roadways with monarchy names like the major roadway around Lake Ontario is called "The Queens Expressway" or the QEW.
Canada uses Metric where the US is still using Imperial.
Most Americans away from the Canadian border can't really tell the difference in accents between US and Canadian English except for the couple of examples I sighted above. I spent several weeks in Canadian 2 years ago and it is different than the US in many ways, but again the same. Someone ask me how were the Canadians and I said, "like us, just different." After a day or two there, I got used to the Metric system and now notice just how much Metric is being included in shows made here in the US and we are now getting lots of Canadian programming on the cable channels like Science Channel and Discovery channel and it is all Metric. That and the words like PROCESSOR and ABOUT are dead giveaways they are Canadian products. Most Americans don't notice it though. And if they do, they never mention it. LOTS of American television coming across the border from US stations and on the Canadian stations to Canada. The CBC was a little hard to get a grasp on but it too was interesting, in a PBS gone mad kind of way. Someone asked me to explain the CBC and the best way I could was to imagine NBC and PBS merging where you had the news resources and some commercial programming of NBC and the cultural programming of PBS with a heavy dose of the "government line" and that was the CBC. The big thing that got me was the bilingualness of Canada. English and French are BOTH the official language so anything associated with the government, buildings, road signs, etc, had to carry both English and French. There are even English only and French only radio and TV stations. (the French stations seem to be doing things completely different from the English stations with their own programming and I don't remember seeing any dubbed English to French shows on the French stations either.) That took a little while to get use to, but we are seeing more and more of that here in the US with English and Spanish but of course the US doesn't have an "official" language. English is still very much the language you see here in most of the US.
I think most former British colonies in the Western Hemisphere maintain the UK spellings and customs.The US split away over 225 years ago so have not had much to any direct British influence during that time but have amassed many customs from many countries over the last 200 and some years to become what we are, a great world melting pot, where many of the other former British Colonies only became independent in the late 19th or 20th Century and those British-isms are more embedded so they remain.