One of the most basic differences between American English and British English spelling is the ‘u’ included in words like colour, honour, and valour in the latter, and the lack thereof in the former. It’s a simple variance and one that is both often noted and rarely noticed.
Until, that is, you’re a speaker of the American tongue who forgets to change the settings on their computer to the proper language when writing an essay for your tutorial. You usually remember to do this; that way, you can rely on spellcheck to catch all the words you’d never even think to change. When that happens, all hell can break loose. You’ll head to your tutor’s office, read out your essay, get through an hour’s discussion, and hand in the sheaf of paper on your way out the door. Perfectly normal, right?
Well, yes. But then, as you walk back towards your own college, you’ll suddenly realize that you left the wrong language settings intact because you’d been filling out an internship application and used the American spellings for that document. Maybe your tutor won’t notice, you think, and even if he does, it can’t be that much of an issue, can it?
If that’s the kind of thought process that would be running through your head, then you’re a lot like I used to be – up until such an occurrence befell me in the middle of my first year. The following week, when I received my essay, my tutor had very carefully underlined each and every instance of misspelling involving such a “u” and then written, in bold, at the end of my essay, that such words as I had used did not exist in the English language on this side of the pond.
So I was careful not to do this again; until a week or two ago, that is. I haven’t gotten the essay back yet, but I’m prepared for what might happen. It’s rather like coloring (or colouring) outside the lines when you make such a mistake, and I prefer to believe it makes me an original.