Get with the program(me)


I do a lot of legal, governmental and corporate editing (don’t pity me! I love it!), so I often come across the word “programme”. Except, more often than not, I find the writer has mistakenly written “program”.

In the UK, and here in New Zealand, the noun and the verb are “programme”, unless you’re talking about computers.

NOUN: The kiwi breeding programme has been successful.

VERB: It’s time to programme our annual shareholders’ meeting.

NOUN: Microsoft Word is the program I use most often.

VERB: Do you know how to program in HTML?

In American English, “program” is used in all instances. Australia is heading that way too – one of the rare cases in which our two countries diverge. So if we could just run a quick spelling test on Russell Crowe, Keith Urban, Crowded House, Phar Lap and, er, a pavlova, we could end the “Aussie or Kiwi” debates once and for all.