I am going to write about something that has plagued America for years: the dreaded theatre vs. theater debate. The two spellings of the same word often put people (like myself) in the awkward position of not knowing which one is the best to use.
For one thing, both spellings are pronounced exactly the same (thee-uh-ter), so when speaking them, one would not notice a difference between the two. Secondly, both spellings of the word translate to exactly the same number of definitions (see below):
Therefore, is it safe to assume that the two are interchangeable?
In the English language, it would be correct to use either spelling. Although... the theatre spelling is far more common in the UK than it is in the US, and the theater spelling is far more common in the US than it is in the UK. So, British people would be more familiar with the theatre spelling, and American people would be more familiar with the theater spelling.
That being said... which do I use?
Ironically enough, I use the theatre spelling almost exclusively... Why?
Well, first, switching to the alternative spelling would be a big sacrifice for me, somehow. I've already dedicated so many years of my life to spelling the word one way. It's a strange way of thinking, I know. I'm aware that this particular spelling of the word is not routinely used in my country, and yet, I use it. Unless, of course, the name of a venue I'm writing about contains the opposite spelling, or I am referring to a venue that screens films.
I guess.. the theatre spelling, feels better? I will say, it does feel classier... whereas other British spellings of words in the English language like colour, flavour, or favourite, do not feel as classy. Go figure! There is some method to my madness, however. While both spellings are interchangeable from a grammar standpoint, I do try my best to be consistent with my usage (to not confuse my readers).
And I know I'm not alone in my stubbornness.... I spotted more people (fellow theatre snobs, I'm guessing) at BroadwayCon rocking T-shirts boldly displaying the theatre spelling than I could count on my fingers:
So, in the end... it doesn't really matter. But I choose to use the theatre spelling.
Which spelling do you use? And why?
Let PXP know in the comments below...