Monthly Archives: April 2008

A Word (Spelled) Uniquely Canadian

Canadian English is a hybrid… on one hand, with political roots in the Commonwealth and historical ties to Britain; on the other hand, its geographic and economic influences from the US.

In spelling, like so many other cultural aspects, it’s hard to think of something that is uniquely Canadian and not just borrowed or outright filched from some other nation. When British and American English do not agree on a spelling, the Canadian version is usually just one or the other.

However, this endless indecisiveness yields a word spelled in a uniquely Canadian way:colourize

The Brits spell this “colourise”, the Americans “colorize”. There are two rules at work here: Canadians keep the “u” in words like “color” and “flavor” that does nothing but take up space and reinforce, (in our minds at least), the massive differences between Canada and the US.

But when it comes to the suffix that makes nouns into verbs, we for some reason have settled on the American “-ize” rather than the British “-ise”.

Maybe like “foetus” (a fantastically ugly British spelling), we’ve decided that it’s just a bit too… provincial?

Travel Tips: Fly Clear

I have a Clear card, so security at San Francisco airport (SFO) is very quick. If you want one, use my Refer-A-Friend code SCA52693 to get us both a free month. There are some surprising things about this program. At SFO, you plug the card into a machine, then it scans your irises to confirm your identity. Then the Clear employees ask for ID. That’s right. Reading your irises isn’t enough… they need picture ID. This is in case someone steals your irises without taking your driver’s license. Yes, they know it’s stupid (they called it “illogical” in an email to members). But the government requires it.

After your ID has been confirmed, the valet helps you by carrying some of your stuff, and, chanting “excuse me” repeated while budding in front of everyone else who is standing in own line. That’s right, you don’t get your own line. You don’t get any special rules (you still have to take off your shoes and take your laptop out of its case). You just get butt in front of the same line everyone else is in. It always makes me feel like a self-important jerk. Not in a completely bad way though. All I can ever manage is a meek smile.

And what happens when everyone is in this program? The lines will be much slower because there will now be an extra step (the iris scanning), and the security screening won’t be any different. So what the hell??

I figure that what happened was it was a compromise between privacy versus security. A law was passed for frequent travelers to be pre-screened (and the TSA digs into your background before you’re approved) in exchange for a expedited security process. And they could never decide on exactly how the screening would be expedited… so instead of changing the process, they just bud you to the head of the line.

“TSA-approved and prescreened butthead coming through!”

Line-jumping: the compromise of bureaucracy.