Counseling or counselling? Depends on your continent.

As you can see on the Science Refinery Facebook page and Twitter feed, I’ve been having a lot of fun editing the particular paper I’m on right now. In addition to the amusing (I promise I never point them out in a mean-spirited way!) errors, the authors often use British English spellings though they specifically requested I edit everything according to American English conventions.

One that got me tripped up was seeing “counselling” without Word’s squiggly red underline. As a psychologist, I’m pretty used to reading it as “counseling.” As has become my standard, I went off to Google Ngram Viewer to investigate.

First, let’s take a look at American English:

Google books Ngram viewer graph of counselling vs. counseling in American English

Google Ngram Viewer graph of counselling vs. counseling in American English from 1920 through 2008. In all years, counseling is much more frequent and counselling is very rare.

Oh good, I’m not crazy.

Now let’s see what’s up with the British:

Google books Ngram viewer graph of counselling vs. counseling in British English

Google Ngram Viewer graph of counselling vs. counseling in British English from 1920 through 2008. Until about 1990, the two variants were used approximately equally. Then counselling took over to be the more frequent use, but counseling retains a decent minority.

So how did I deal with this situation as the editor? I mean, the authors weren’t technically wrong, but their use of the uncommon spelling variant could be jarring for an American audience and be an indicator of their “outsider” status. I left the following comment: “In American English, the spelling ‘counseling’ is much more common. Whatever you choose, please be consistent in your use throughout the manuscript.”

Advertisements

One thought on “Counseling or counselling? Depends on your continent.

Thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s