It's been asked innumerable times: What's the deal with using "colour" in some places of this site and "color" in others? To us, it is the same idea and the same love we're sharing... just with different ways of spelling it. But for those who want more of an explanation, here is some history of the word and why we use both spellings.
|Share this Post||Tweet|
The History of Word
The origin of the word 'colour' is in Middle English (developed into Modern English in 16th Century), which actually borrows from Anglo-Norman French in this case. 'Colour' has many definitions and uses (About nine, and then a tonne of little bullets). Somewhere between colonisation, revolution, and the Industrial Revolution, the English language had no central regulation. Samuel Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language (1755) is the source of most of the current British spellings, but American English became somewhat simplified in spelling during the times between this book's publication and Noah Webster and his An American Dictionary of the English Language of 1828. Webster was a large part in changing the spelling of the language because of his philosophies and strong nationalism. What would've been seen then as the "correct" spellings have been listed as variants, and still are today.
So, the unstressed -our (favour, flavour, colour, savour) became -or (favor, flavor, color, savor), the few -re endings in British spelling (centre, metre, litre, manoeuvre) became -er (center, meter, liter, maneuver), and -ce (defence, offence, pretence) became -se (defense, offense, pretense). Because of wide usage in both countries and acceptance onto the pedastal of dictionaries, both spellings are accepted today, though it seems that "when in Rome" follows. And Canada got caught in the middle of it all, using mostly British spellings with some American leaking in.
Tung or Tounge, Ruf or Rough, Batl or Battle...
In 1878 a committee of American philologists began preparing a list of proposed new spellings, and two years later the Philological Society of England joined in the work. In 1883 a joint manifesto was issued, recommending various general simplifications. Among those enlisted in the movement were Charles Darwin, Lord Tennyson, Sir John Lubbock and Sir J. A. H. Murray. In 1886 the American Philological Association issued independently a list of recommendations affecting about 3,500 words, and falling under ten headings. Practically all of the changes proposed had been put forward 80 years before by Webster, and some of them had entered into unquestioned American usage in the meantime, e. g., the deletion of the u from the -our words, the substitution of er for re at the end of words, and the reduction of traveller to traveler.
The trouble with the others was that they were either too uncouth to be adopted without a long struggle or likely to cause errors in pronunciation. To the first class belonged tung for tounge, ruf for rough, batl for battle and abuv for above, and to the second such forms as cach for catch and troble for trouble.
Then, in 1906, came the organization of the Simplified Spelling Board, with an endowment of $15,000 a year from Andrew Carnegie, and a formidable list of members and collaborators, including Henry Bradley, F. I. Furnivall, C. H> Grandgent, W. W. Skeat, T. R. Lounsbury and F. A. March. The board at once issued a list of 300 revised spellings, new and old, and in August, 1906, President Roosevelt ordered their adoption by the Government Printing Office.
H.L. Mencken (1880–1956). The American Language. 1921.
US cartoon from 1906 about Roosevelt's simplified spelling
Technologies Influence on Spelling
The internet is an international experience, but a large number of the biggest internet companies are American: Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, AOL... These top search engines don't treat the different spelling of color as the same word, ie. A Search for color won't give you a site with the word spelled with a "u." A search for colour won't give you sites with the American spelling.
When we first created COLOURlovers we used the British spelling throughout the site... but overtime we realized we were being penalized by the search engines, so we switched over to using the American spelling. Since we have an international audience of members and writers, they use their preferred spelling of the words so we loosely switch between the two. As we build out our language feature to allow COLOURlovers to be read in German, French, Japanese Etc. We've playfully been considering having American and British options because people seem to be so heated in their preference of the spelling.
A Google search for Colour does not return a "Did you mean" result.
One Color Got Caught in the Fight
Out of all our color names, one got caught up in the American-British spelling wars... Grey became the established British spelling in the 20th century, and is but a minor variant in American English, according to dictionaries. Canadians tend to prefer grey. Some suggest that American writers tend to assign wistful, positive connotations to grey, as in "a grey fog hung over the skyline", whereas gray often carries connotations of drabness, "a gray, gloomy day."
Color, Colour, Couleur, Colore... How Do You Say It?
Color lovers come from all over the world, so what spelling of the word do you use?