Linguists in uproar as France changes 2,000 spellings and ditches circumflex

Linguists in uproar as France changes 2,000 spellings and ditches circumflex

French linguistic purists have voiced online anger at the loss of one of their favourite accents – the pointy little circumflex hat (ˆ) that sits on top of certain vowels.

Changes to around 2,400 French words to simplify them for schoolchildren, such as allowing the word for onion to be spelled ognon as well as the traditionaloignon, have brought accusations the country’s Socialist government is dumbing down the language.

Nothing provokes a Gallic row than changes to the language of Molière, but the storm took officials by surprise as the spelling revisions had been suggested by the Académie Française, watchdogs of the French language, and unanimously accepted by its members as long ago as 1990.

The aim was to standardise and simplify certain quirks in the written language making it easier to learn (among them chariot to charriot to harmonise withcharrette, both words for a type of cart and the regrouping of compound nouns like porte-monnaie/portemonnaie (purse), extra-terrestres/extraterrestres andweek-end/weekend, to do away with the hyphen. Read more

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