Sunday, September 11, 2005

What's the deal with l'Academie française?

I was looking over this article in Wikipedia when I came across the entry for "diaeresis", which makes reference to a 1990 reform that changed the spelling of the feminine form aiguë to aigüe. In a way, I've always thought that the old form made little sense orthographically, but I didn't know that the official spelling had changed.

The website for l'Academie française makes reference to some of the changes implented in 1990 on this page (français, see Transformations et "réformes" de l'orthographe). But what were they thinking? While I suppose dropping the circumflex in words like traitre and paraitre is a minor change, the rule for pluralization of compound nouns just seems totally wrong. And why did they violate the letter e? Sècheresse? Cèleri? They're joking, right?

My Larousse (printed in 1996) reflects almost none of these changes (although it lists évènement as an acceptable alternate spelling). Most of the changes look positively alien compared to what I've seen in common usage (charriot? relai?).

My question for someone who speaks French natively (probably finou): Have any of the 1990 changes been adopted into common usage in France, or have they all been (rightfully) ignored?


Blogger finou said...

I really don't know considering that the only people I regularly write to in french are my family... I have not noticed that the changes have made it into those communications. I think that probably it mostly regulates what they teach for spelling in school and how official documents are spelled... I have to go renew my passport in a couple of weeks; I can check for you if the spelling of anything has changed ;)-

9/13/2005 11:44:00 AM  
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