I sure it doesn't really matter, but I noticed the other day that that package name for the Ubuntu Software Centre is software-center which is the American spelling of center, so I thought it would probably be preferable for me to use that spelling in general when discussing the Software Centre even if not using the package name?

I guess most of the others don't matter

Colour - Color
Behaviour - Behavior etc etc etc.......

Of course if doesn't mean I'm ever prepared to use the expression 'do the math' shudders ;)
And in the unlikely event there is a question involving association football then I will have to call it football and not soccer as it's a well known fact that:

Whenever an American calls football soccer, an Englishman dies.


  • 3
    My spell check is set to British English not American English. That was the default for me, so it's what I use. Commented May 25, 2012 at 9:13
  • 1
    Check your etymology. The term "soccer" also came from England.
    – belacqua
    Commented May 27, 2012 at 20:37
  • 2
    @belacqua True, its just not much liked anymore ;) color is also the correct British English spelling if you go back far enough in time, we got all French after the Norman conquest and shoved a load of 'u's into the words
    – coversnail
    Commented May 27, 2012 at 21:06
  • I try to talk as much British English, but often I just use American terms without knowing it :p
    – RobinJ
    Commented Jun 3, 2012 at 19:21

3 Answers 3


Nobody can speak English, we all speak the 21st century.

Anyway, I don't think it really matters - as someone who hangs out with Canadians a lot, I tend to (as an example) do color and colour interchangeably - so as long as we are consistent in our answers, and we are also naming packages correctly, we're fine.

  • 5
    Most people have come to accept either spelling of "the minor words" (like colour and such). It's preferred to use English US, but edits correcting English UK should and will be rejected as too minor. Commented May 25, 2012 at 11:53
  • 7
    +1 Package names are more important than anything in this discussion. Commented May 27, 2012 at 21:10

You answered your own question I think...

If there is a real possibility of confusion due to a package name, command name, parameter name, etc. then use the American spelling.

Otherwise, use whatever spelling you feel like.

I'm an American and an (EFL) English teacher and I can't even tell which spelling is British and which is American for a lot of words because I've been exposed to both through print and virtual media for most of my life.

Dictionaries are even starting to adapt to an age where geography doesn't confine spelling conventions anymore and often include multiple spellings for the same word. For example, localization and localisation are both correct according to my English (US) spell checker (if I had to guess I'd say the former is American and the second is British but--proving my point--I really don't know).

That said about spelling, I still do get really confused when my British/Irish/Australian/etc. colleagues use completely different terms for something (think trunk vs. boot, hood vs. bonnet). However, I think that if anything is ever not clear, someone will ask and editing can be done! :P


I don't think it matters much, as long as it's understandable.

The only case where I think some caution is called for is in editing other questions/answers (or correcting them). If I edit a post, I try to stay with the regional spelling variation that the original writer used.

That being said, I do sometimes attempt to rewrite regional idiomatic phrases, in an effort to make them more easily understood across regions. I may have introduced my share of regionalisms myself -- it's always fair to ask for clarifications from anyone.

Again, the goal is to be understandable.

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