Thank you in advance =)
They vary in spelling because when dictionaries and standardized spelling came into existence, the US had already been populated.
In Britain they decided to go with the more traditional spellings (closer to the languages they originally stemmed from) but in the US, the first dictionaries were printed with the simpler spelling, as the extra letter often was no longer necessary.
Canada was still under British control, so a separate dictionary was not made.
The only difference is
favourite is used in British English and
favorite is used in American English.
This is a very difficult subject. Essentially, either
favourite is understandable by anyone with basic English.
The problem occurs when the words between American and British English are completely different. Is the front part of your car that covers the engine the bonnet or the hood? Is the rear part that holds the luggage the trunk or the boot?
I am currently reading a daily email which translates and gives the use of Spanish words. It comes from the USA and many are completely different to the use of Spanish in Spain.
There are a number of these:
color / colour, rancor / rancour, humor / humour.
The main purpose of their existence seems to be to confuse learners and incite friendly argument among native speakers.
A simplified summary from Wikipedia:
Many of the now characteristic American English spellings were introduced, although often not created, by Noah Webster in his An American Dictionary of the English Language of 1828.
Webster was a strong proponent of spelling reform for reasons both philological and nationalistic. Many spelling changes proposed in the U.S. by Webster himself, and in the early 20th century by the Simplified Spelling Board, never caught on.
Among the advocates of spelling reform in England, the influences of those who preferred the Norman (or Anglo-French) spellings of certain words proved decisive. Subsequent spelling adjustments in the UK had little effect on present-day U.S. spelling, and vice versa.
While in many cases American English deviated in the 19th century from mainstream British spelling, on the other hand it has also often retained older forms.
Well, in my class of English literature, a couple of year ago, I saw a documentary made by CBC and ABC showing how spelling of a lot of words changed within the community of the settlers of the Thirteen Colonies in 18th century (1700 to 1800 for those "uneducated" americans lol i'm gonna be shot for this... lol).
It is actually common that spelling and pronunciation of colonial words change from the way they are in their mother-country (I've was in Australia during the 2000 Olympics and had to re-learn English...)
It's only because languages evolve and geographical and social components enrich it differently from place to place. Americans eat french fries, English people eat chips, and French folk eat "patates frites" ("patates" = potatoes, "frites" = fries, French syntax is simply inverted in English) (please note that in French there no allusion to the... French part of the thing...).
The Same phenomenon occurred in New-France; we Quebecer (your French-Canadians neighbours) often have some trouble understanding the languages our French "cousins" tongue. The opposite is true as well...
AnonymousI think that "favourite" is the Canadian way of spelling and and "favorite" is the American way.
Er... and yes most Canadians use "favourite" (the British way) because they have been a part of the British Empire for longer than Americans.
Thanks for having read this little History and Social Sciences class!
This just makes the English language go higher on the list as the most illogical and complicated to learn (except Chinese which is very hard). I am an American and I say that English is way too complicated. Oh and it's not that Americans are lazy, part of it may simply be isolationism.
As evolution has taught us, over time a group of a single species can change just by being separated from the group. Same with languages, culture, religion, and a whole lot more.