# Can I change the language the commands are written in to British English?

Hi basically I am a newbie to this software, just getting the hang of the basics but I found that all the commands are in american english. Is there something I can use, download or one of these 'package' things that can change this for me?

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I'm not sure that there is. Since TeX certainly uses English, it should be easy enough for you to simply take them as they are. This will ensure your document's portability. But, if you would really like this, I'd suggest making a redef.tex file, with lines upon lines of \def\colour\color (redefining \colour to map to color), etc. Then, in each document you write, simply \input{redef} in the preamble (where redef.tex is in the same directory as your working document). This isn't so much a solution as it a dirty hack; this could very well break things down the line. – Sean Allred Mar 6 '13 at 18:17
@SeanAllred \def\colour{\color}. There must always be braces (okay... "correct catcode characters"...) when \def-ing things – kahen Mar 6 '13 at 18:20
Keep focusing on getting the hang of the basics, making your documents look the way you want, not how to code them the way you want. After a little while you'll probably know how to redefine macros spelled the way you want them. – Matthew Leingang Mar 6 '13 at 21:07
The commands are not in American English! They are in (La)TeX! Some words used in commands look like American English. It is a coincidence! ;-) – Paul Gaborit Mar 7 '13 at 8:18

LaTeX was originally developed by Leslie Lamport, an American. It's therefore natural that he used US spelling in command names. For many years now, LaTeX has been maintained by a group of people. In the current team, none of the people whose first language is English are from the US, so this consideration no longer applies. However, the team are pretty clear that using US spellings is the Way Things Are, and there are good reasons.

LaTeX as a computer language is a way of describing documents that needs to be clear to many people. As such, it would very rapidly becoming unworkable to have each user using commands in a document in their own language. What is needed is a single agreed set of commands. US English is the language of computer programming, and so it makes sense to use commands in this idiom even if that's a bit less comfortable to UK English users. This is much the same as any other computer programming language: the command names are usually fixed, and one simply has to learn them. (English speakers are in this sense in a better position than others, even if the spelling is a bit strange for those of us from the UK.)

As indicated in comments, you can of course define local equivalents

\let\colour\color
\let\centring\centering
...


but I would personally recommend you simply accept that LaTeX is what it is.

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Note that I am (1) on the LaTeX team and (2) from the UK :-) – Joseph Wright Mar 7 '13 at 8:46
\let is a bit scary. Suppose some other macro redefines \color, then \colour will still have its old meaning. \def\colour{\color} is safer, but adds an additional level of indirection (not that that matters that much on modern hardware, of course). – kahen Mar 10 '13 at 6:32

Although in substance this answer is the same as Joseph's: use \let if you want to anglicise LaTeX commands, my opinion on whether to do it is different.

(And as this is opinion, I'm going to tick the "Community Wiki" button so that people can down-vote as much as they like to disagree with me!)

I use LaTeX for absolutely every document that I write. The vast majority of these documents are single-author documents. Even when I am writing a collaborative article, then there is usually a single author (so far, usually me). I regard the LaTeX code that I write as something that is never intended for others to see or know about. I have no objection to them doing so, but equally view it as none of their business if I decide to do something peculiar. Ultimately, it is the final form of the article that is for distribution and the source code is simply a tool to produce it.

(I'm slightly exaggerating for effect, but not much.)

The immediate corollary of that is that anything about LaTeX that hinders me is fair game for change. Having to remember to write \color instead of \colour is annoying, similarly center instead of centre. So my style file that gets loaded with all of my documents includes the lines:

\@ifundefined{centre}{%
\newenvironment{centre}{\center}{\endcenter}%
\let\centring\centering
}{}

\let\colourlet=\colorlet
\let\definecolour=\definecolor
\let\colour=\color
\colourlet{grey}{gray}%
}{}


(If put directly in the preamble, this would need surrounding in \makeatletter ... \makeatother, see What do \makeatletter and \makeatother do?, or the conditionals could be removed.)

In this regard, it is just the same as writing \newcommand\R{\mathbb{R}} to avoid having to write \mathbb{R} every time.

The issue of portability or of collaboration here is a red herring. As soon as you start using your own macros (and the ability to do so is, I contend, the major strength of TeX for making the author's life easier) then you have to start negotiating when you start collaborating. Indeed, the only danger of using your own macros when collaborating on a document is that your collaborator uses the same name for something else. And I would consider it highly unlikely that anyone would use \colour for anything other than an alias for \color. So I think that making these aliases has very little probability of doing any harm, and if it makes it easier for you to concentrate on the content then it brings real benefit.

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You don't use \textcolor (\textcolour), then? :) – clemens Mar 7 '13 at 9:50
@cgnieder ~% cd current/papers papers% grep -rli textcolor * (1)papers%  Evidently not. (looks better if you put the newlines in the correct places) – Loop Space Mar 7 '13 at 9:53
it's not just command names; there are parameters that require knowledge of american -- we surely wouldn't write \textcolour{gray}, would we? -- to translate the language we've to delve into lots of parts of lots of packages. i would suggest it's not worth it. (note that the uk faq is in english but doesn't even attempt to explain the americanisms in the latex language. – wasteofspace Mar 7 '13 at 10:05
@wasteofspace You missed the \colourlet{grey}{gray}. As with anything, it's a balance. Typing \mathbb{Q} once is fine. Typing \mathbb{R} fifty times is a pain. The macro language of LaTeX is meant to make life easier not more difficult. Its flexibility is its strength and the ability to make it more intuitive for myself is something that I highly value. So, yes. It's worth it. – Loop Space Mar 7 '13 at 10:27