You see, I've realized that I am in a very unique position. I'm Canadian. And, yes, while that's not unique to only me, we do have a hefty enough population here that I can be surrounded by millions of fellow Canadians in one city, it does put me in a unique position media-wise. As I'm sure all of the other English-speaking countries that are outside of the UK or USA also understand, being neither British or American situates our use of English in almost a perfect milieu. I'm speaking grammatically, and in terms of writing, of course, because that's what I've been doing with my summer. But if I really stop to think about what makes acceptable standard Canadian English - which is an actual thing, we have our own set of Oxford Canadian English Dictionaries, thank you very much. Not only have I seen this massive tome in person, but I somehow paid to be a contributing researcher to the online database... thanks university for using me and my tuition to do the professor's research for him!
I digress... my point is that Canadian English is unique. Between being stubbornly British Loyalist and living in such proximity to the USA that we often can't distinguish where their influence over us ends, Canadian English seems to balance out the English structures of both forces, taking, what I at least biasly feel, is the best of both worlds. "Color" just seems plain and naked, lacking in the luster that should be infused in the very word itself, so a proper Canadian knows full well to follow the British stream and keep it vibrant "Colour", extending it's importance as we would with "Honour" and "Valour". The lack of "u" is cringe-worthy, and those poor American children with u-less names just makes me feel sad. But, there are somethings that Canadians have become quite fond of, and that is zeds. If ever something is "-ised" we will, not without fail, "-ize" it! It's not a hard and fast rule among frequent Canadian English users to be indifferent to the -ise/-ize call. I think we often prefer the look of the zed, but have witnessed the -ise enough to understand that it's a thing, and using it sometimes makes us feel more fancy. Which is pretty much why, when it doubt, we tend to bend towards the British style in formal settings; we like to play posh sometimes... and I mean "play posh" because the very word "posh" makes us giggle and think of Spice Girls, so clearly we don't appreciate the true value of the word.
As a writer, or I should say, as a Canadian writer, I must become hyper aware of who my audience is. While the British style is more formal, my written encounters are more likely to be below the border. And if we are thinking about more casual encounters, well, Canadians are bombarded with American media so we are just as ready to accept that it's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, as we are Harry Potter and the Philospher's Stone - though clearly true Potter fans will default to the original British style, because, hello? think about where this story is set! It then just becomes and issue of cultural vernacular that confounds us. Why is Harry, a little boy, hidden under blankets reading with a torch? Is no one concerned about fire safety? Sure, Harry Potter, just because you can do magic, does not mean that you should be careless in the muggle world!
I digress... But it is these distinctions that a Canadian writer must always take into consideration. It would be much easier, I think, to just follow one style. I'm either British or American, and will write for the place in which I am living. But a Canadian is in the middle. And while other Canadians are also in the middle and are very accepting of both worlds, it's rarely other Canadians whom we must cater to. As I've been preparing my work to submit into various hands across the globe, I find myself becoming very self-conscious of my grammatical style. I write like a Canadian, using the best of both worlds, consistently, mind you; it's not like we just make it up on the spot! But as I flip back and forth from American to British readership, I can't help but get nervous about my choices. I mean, clearly the cultural context of my word choices are going to be a large factor. In Canada we use "grade" instead of "year", but unlike the USA, we say "grade 5" not "5th grade" - well, until we get to university, but at least we keep the years in order... I still have no idea what "sophomore" actually means, so most American high school/college movie references I tend to just blank over. They aren't seniors; do I really need to understand more than that to follow in their misguided adventures?
If you haven't yet made a drinking game out of my rambling tangents, you clearly haven't been following my blog closely enough! Shame on you!
As I was saying, I would like to think that the slush pile readers are well read enough, and internationally well-read enough if they are accepting international submissions, that they are prepared for Canadian style references. Still, I do feel self-conscious that I should be catering to the audience to improve my chances. Maybe that's just typical Canadian courtesy; I don't want anyone to feel put out when I have the ability to remedy it. But such an endeavour actually would require me to create three separate versions of everything I write. I could do it. As a Canadian, I could consciously make the effort to write in one specific style without needing a painstakingly amount of research to figure out how; it's already embedded in my language usage. But I'm rather attached to my Canadian style. I am fiercely proud of my Canadianness. I like that I can balance out the two major English influences as some kind of grammatical peace-keeper. An maybe I'm wrong because I can only look at it from my own perspective, but I don't feel like there is anything particularly confusing about Canadian English. Now, I don't mean Canadian slang in which you need to know who the hoser is and how to properly pronounce Quesnel. But aside from the odd misinterpretation of what we mean when we say "pants", I think that we're pretty middle ground. It's not like the British haven't heard American English or vice versa, or haven't read UK vs. USA editions of novels. At least that's the assumption I make. But what do I know? I'm from Canada. We get the editions that are willing to be shipped to us. For all I know, in this whole blog post, only my fellow Canadians have been following along. Perhaps u's and z's are a line that can't be crossed. If that's the case, boy am I in trouble.
So here's to hoping that those reading my submissions will look at where I've marked "Canadian" and excuse me for my English. "That's so sweet, look at how the Canadian tries to English." Well, at least I won't write like a texter, so that has to count for something, eh?