Volume 92, Issue 72

Thursday, February 4, 1999


Argument ends in stabbing

Drilling the candidates

Western stands alone without "u"

Armed advertising to greet drivers

Presidential boobs on the tube

Dyer changes in Canada

Tan's got a plan for improvement

Western stands alone without "u"

By Paul-Mark Rendon
Gazette Staff

While the difference may be seen as negligible to some, Western's decision to exclude the letter "u" in the spelling of the word "honour" on Western diplomas has fuelled a long-standing argument about Western's Americanization.

Rob Tiffin, deputy registrar at Western, said although students have raised their concerns in the past, Western has no plans to change the spelling. "It has been a practice at Western for a number of years. The "or" spelling has been around since the '60s," he said.

According to Senate minutes from May 15, 1997, Western and Brock were the only two Ontario universities to be using the spelling at the time. However, Brock has since changed to the "our" spelling, making Western the only Ontario university using the American spelling.

Pat Koncle, spokesperson for the registrar at Brock University, said Brock also used the "or" ending until two years ago when their administration decided to use the Gage Canadian Dictionary standard spelling.

Kenneth Hilborn, a history professor at Western, said he saw no need to change the spelling. "I voted to retain the traditional usage. It seemed the sensible thing to do," he said.

Hilborn said although other universities may spell the word differently, the choice of spelling is the prerogative of their respective Senates. "[Western's Senate] has the right to make their own decisions," he said.

Ninian Mellamphy, an English professor at Western, said words derived from Latin, such as "favour" or "honour" can be spelled in a Latin way or a French way. From a linguistic perspective, he said the Latin "or" spelling makes more sense. "It's easier to use the Latin way to spell English words. We're being practically correct.

"[Students] can't object to the spelling. Those who do are just being niggardly if they object to the American way, but also object to the Latin way," Mellamphy said.

John Thorp, chair of Senate Committee on Academic Policy and Admissions, said while he was in favour of changing the spelling of the word to add the "u," he was not agitated by the decision to keep the "or" ending. "I entirely accept the decision, but it does seem to be generally understood our Canadian spelling is more and more preferred in the last decade," he said.

"This is a Canadian university. Canadian spelling has drifted towards the preference of adding a "u" to [honor]," said Thorp, who admitted to having students approach him with complaints the "or" ending is un-Canadian.

"[Students] feel the "or" ending to be offensive while I've never heard the "our" ending to be offensive," he added.

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