English spelling has a reputation for being notoriously difficult to learn, whether for native speakers of English or for those who learn it as an additional language. An additional problem for EFL learners is that there are two somewhat different systems to choose between: the British system and the American one. As Bondesen (2004: 4) points out, ‘although the two spelling systems are much more similar than they are different, there is variation between them.’ (For surveys of some of the main differences see Trudgill & Hannah, 1994; Carney, 1997.) The spelling discrepancies between the two varieties are systematic, and originate in large part from American spelling reform as a symbol of ‘linguistic independence’ (Knowles, 1997), and from the work of early American linguists such as Benjamin Franklin and Noah Webster. The aim of this article is to investigate the spelling preferences of English users in a few regions outside Britain and the United States, and to establish whether any clear patterns of regional variation are discernible.
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