French spelling reform

French spelling reform : the end of the circumflex?

Suggested new spellings for more than 2,000 French words have sparked controversy.

The Academie Francaise proposed a French spelling reform proposal in 1990, including the deletion of the circumflex accent (ˆ) and hyphens in some words, but they were optional.

Now publishers say they will include the new spellings in schoolbooks.

France’s education minister has said the changes will not culminate in the end of the circumflex, and that old and new spellings will both remain correct.

Despite this, the news sparked furious reaction on social media, with users arguing the changes constituted dumbing down.

Some tweets even used the hashtag #JeSuisCirconflexe (I am circumflex).

What is a circumflex?

The peaked accent (^) looks like a hat, or so children are told when they are learning French. It goes over vowels – in some cases it changes the word’s pronunciation, in others it serves to distinguish homonyms (words that are spelled and pronounced like another word but are different in meaning).

The changes will see it being used on ao and e, but dropped from i and u (with some exceptions).

The outrage reportedly started after a report by the TF1 website said the reforms would take effect in the upcoming academic year.

It quoted a note from the education ministry last year saying that the French spelling reform should be adopted and reported that publishers have decided to add the changes in textbooks from September.

Following the French spelling reform, students will then have a choice to use either the old spellings or the new ones and teachers will have to accept both ways as correct.

‘Comment dire?’ Some of the new spellings

Image copyrightThinkstock

Old spellingNew spelling
OignonOgnon (onion)
NénupharNénufar (water lily)
S’entraînerS’entrainer (to practise)
MaîtresseMaitresse (mistress, teacher)
CoûtCout (cost)
Mille-pattesMillepattes (centipedes)
Porte-monnaiePortemonnaie (purse, wallet)
Sources: Thelocal.fr, TF1

The proposed changes in French spelling followed a review of the language to simplify French learning, but they were not binding and had faced strong opposition in the country, Le Monde reported (in French).

They include the deletion of the hyphens and the circumflex in some words. The accent disappears from above the letter i and u in certain words and not from the letter o.

The new spelling would reportedly impact around 2,400 words.

‘#JeSuisCirconflexe’

Users on social media were furious over the changes, and the hashtags #ReformeOrthographe (orthographic reform) and #JeSuisCirconflexe (I am circumflex) were one of Twitter’s trending topics in France on Thursday.

Many users shared pictures showing their dissatisfaction with the changes, and most of the anger was directed at the alleged end of the circumflex.

Adapted from the BBC
Source : http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-35496893 – 5 February 2016

 

 

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