“Why do you insist on spelling Quebecers with a k?” asked reader Jesse Aubin on The Globe’s Facebook page. “It’s not Quebeker, it’s Quebecer. Just like Quebecois is spelled with a c… In all of my years growing up and reading, I’ve never seen anyone spell it the way you guys spell it.”
Gerald Owen, editorial board member and expert on Globe style, found the answer. He looked up the word in the Globe & Mail Style Book, which is given to all journalists in our newsroom, used to consult our style on abbreviations, punctuation, and much more.
Owen says that “contrary to Jesse’s question, we never write Quebeker without the c, nor does anyone else.” Here’s what our Style Book has to say:
Use this for a resident of the province, following the style of frolic/frolicker, picnic/picnicker and traffic/trafficker. However, if the context demands that we stress we are speaking of a French-speaking resident, in contrast to others in the story who are not, we may use the word Québécois. The feminine is Québécoise.
Do not double if the final consonant is h, w, x or y (oohed and ahed, plowed, boxed, annoyed). If the final consonant is c, add a k: panicked, picnicker, Quebecker.
Note that franco- is an English prefix as well as a French one. Therefore, write franco-Manitoban and franco-Ontarian, not franco-Manitobaine or franco-Ontarien, unless the word appears as part of an organization name we are giving in French. For guidelines on when we use the word Québécois, see Quebecker (above)
As well, Owen points out, The Canadian Oxford Dictionary has “Quebecer (also Quebecker),” and “Quebecker”.
A “c” before the vowel “e” suggests an “s” sound – but of course we wouldn’t pronounce it “Quebeeser.” “Quebecker” is long-established in Canadian usage, though some others do write “Quebecer.” “C’ is a letter with an odd, very long history, which admittedly does present problems. In any case, spelling in English is based on both phonetics and history. In fact, English is the most irregularly spelled language in the world.