It’s usually the smallest details that pack the biggest punch. The country most known for its wine, cheese and the Eiffel Tower is seeing many changes to their official language.
France is seeing new spelling changes in the upcoming school year after a decision to drop the circumflex (^) from the vowels ‘I’ and ‘U’. The decision has sparked controversy all over the 2nd largest European nation with ‘#JeSuisCirconflexe’ trending on Twitter.
The circumflex will be removed from the ‘I’ and ‘U’, except in certain verb tenses and on some words that need it for clarification.
“They’re trying to make it easier to read, write, and spell in French. A lot of things we’re seeing is the disappearance of accents that aren’t necessary, that don’t change the pronunciation or don’t change the stress on words,” says training coordinator and French curriculum support worker at the Oxford Learning Centre, Kirk Langford. “It’s more about teachers knowing that the changes are going to be accepted, but also the old ways accepted and not marking a kid wrong if they decide to put an accent on something that the new reforms says shouldn’t have it.”
Hyphens are also being dropped and added, while accents are also being changed. However, the removal of the circumflex is affecting the most words. Back in 1990, a council got together to make decisions on how to simply the language and now, 26 years later, the changes are being implemented.
“The circumflex on the ‘i’ and ‘u’ most of the time don’t have any bearing on the significance. There are a couple of words like ‘mur’ and ‘mûr’ where there is a circumflex to distinguish the difference in words. ‘Mûr’ means mature while ‘mur’ refers to a wall,” says Langford.
The office of the French Language in Quebec has approved the changes and Langford believes that these changes could come to Canada very soon. 5,000 words have already been reformed. Langford adds that it would be expensive to re-word french textbooks with the new spelling.