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Thursday, January 17, 2019

Is the spelling program or programme?

In the 60s I was taught the spelling was programme. As time went on the main spelling became program, with programme used in some instances, for e.g. theatre programme. A search today for “theatre program" and “theatre programme”, using Google for Australian sites, shows program and programme are used in a ratio of 195:1, so even theatre program has become the preferred spelling. The Macquarie and Oxford dictionaries list program as the primary spelling and programme as a secondary spelling, except for computer program where the spelling is always program.

In Australian government usage there has been flip-flopping. In 1998 John Howard issued an edict for programme to be used. Reportedly in 2007 Kevin Rudd reversed John Howard's edict. In 2013 some government ministers’ departments started using programme, as that was the preferred spelling by Tony Abbot, although no such edict was issued from Tony Abbot’s department. As you can see, a single person’s spelling preference has had an impact on government documents. In the future however, as older politicians move on, it is likely the spelling program, will also become the primary spelling for government documents.

Kelvin Eldridge
The preferred Australian English spelling.

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