Labo(u)r Day in North America


One of Alan's students noticed that Canadians are celebrating Labour Day on September 4 while Americans will celebrate Labor Day. There are two interesting notes here.

1. Culture: Both Canadians and Americans celebrate a Day of Labor on the first Monday of September to commemorate the contribution of workers to our societies.  Most other countries of the world celebrate workers on the first day of May, often referred to as May Day.

2. Spelling: Canadians spell the word Labour, while Americans drop the letter ‘u’ out of the spelling.  For the most part, Canadians tend to follow British spelling conventions.  Many American spelling differences came about in the 1800s with a movement to simplify the spellings or to make them more closely reflect their pronunciation. Below is a list showing the more common differences in the two systems. Note: differences in dialect are not “right” or “wrong”; they simply reflect standardized variations. As a student of English, you should adopt the system nearest to where you live and work.


How do you correctly spell the following five concepts in English?  It depends on where you live!


Alan Headbloom

Alan advises Americans how to be global citizens and expats how to fit in to Michigan culture without annoying their native coworkers and clients. He also tweets and blogs at the intersection of language and culture. Over decades, he's traveled, studied, or lived on six continents, putting strange foods into his mouth and emitting strange sounds from it. His use of English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Swedish, Hausa, and Japanese all improve with alcohol use. He gives invited public presentations on culture and unsolicited private advice on English grammar and usage; the latter isn't always appreciated. Visit his website for information on consulting, coaching, or speaking engagements.