Organizing Our Marvellous Neighbours:

How to Feel Good About Canadian English

A new book by Joe Clark about Canadian spelling

About the author

Or buy the book, learn about it, find out what’s new, read the offsite blog, look at related pictures, download the raw data, read the errata, or contact the author

Me in black jacket with blue patch, photographed against brown door

I’m Katherine Barber Joe Clark. I’m a writer in Toronto.

I’ve been published since 1989, with about 400 articles appearing in three dozen periodicals. I wrote the book Building Accessible Websites (New Riders, 2003) – the best-written, best-designed technical book of the year, with full text available on an included (deep-fuchsia) CD-ROM and online.

I spent the years after the book came out trying to make it in the field of Web accessibility. While I’ve been interested in accessibility for people with disabilities for nearly 30 years, that didn’t really work out. But since I have a degree in linguistics (B.A., University of Toronto, 1989) and am a stickler for detail to the point of obnoxiousness, in 2006 it became obvious there was a Gap in the Marketplace when it came to a discussion of Canadian spelling.

Yes, we have the Canadian Oxford Dictionary and we have that jolly mediævalist Katherine Barber on the stumps telling us about our amusing Canadian words, but the actual topic of spelling barely ever came up. And with more and more people using computers to write, spelling is at once less important (it usually doesn’t matter if you spell badly in your chat window) and very much more important (since thousands or millions of people can read your words and you are, in effect, typesetting and designing your own documents).

Canada has a unique spelling tradition that mixes British and American forms, but I knew that people were not clear on that fact. Nor did they have an understanding of the rules of Canadian spelling. So, in between procrastinating and trying to earn a living, I beavered away for two years on what is now available: Organizing Our Marvellous Neighbours: How to Feel Good About Canadian English.

I’m still working in the accessibility field (I have a whole research project for which I’m trying to scare up the cash), and I have even more books in the hopper.