Thursday, 8 March 2012

Honorary or honourary?

Baird presents Myanmar's Suu Kyi with honorary Canadian citizenship

blazed the Globe in a headline this morning. Yet on a TV channel the Nobel laureate was granted honourary Canadian citizenship. Which spelling is correct?

We Canadians pride ourselves on our Canadian spelling, and generally overrule the computer spellcheck which tries to subvert it. In the "-our" words we follow the British and not the American practice, in colour, favour, odour, etc., and of course, honour.

So that we have honour and its compounds. Or do we? Honourable, yes, and honouree. But that's where it ends.

As my French teacher used to say in words that ring true in any language:

"Monsieur, il y a toujours les exceptions!"

In honorary and honorarium the "u" is dropped, even in British English.

So this morning the Globe is correct, and the writer for the television news has learned his spelling, "not wisely but too well".

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