Mind the Gap: Canadian Versus British English

National patterns in spoken and written language are interesting at the very least for writers, editors, and readers. Sometimes, however, they are critical—helping writers to hit their target or fail miserably. An editor for a publication for a Canadian market needs to be attuned to Canadian ways (versus British or American ways). It’s not only about spellings but also about diction, grammar, and cultural references. Here are some examples from England and Canada.

the tube, the underground (in London) subway (in Toronto)
subway (a passageway underneath something – e.g., a busy street) underpass
You’ve one message. You have one message.
Donning instructions Lifejacket instructions
I shan’t go there. I won’t go there.

Strangely, the well-known London Underground warning “Mind the gap!” has been borrowed in Toronto by the Toronto Transit Commission. However, we (I’m speaking from Toronto) layer on many additional warnings (Do not lean against doors! etc. etc.) and we don’t otherwise tend to use “mind” as a verb.

Do you have Canadian/British English comparisons? Feel free to send them to me at laura@lauraedlund.ca. Thanks!

© Laura Edlund 2010