From: Antoine Leca (Antoine10646@leca-marti.org)
Date: Mon Sep 19 2005 - 06:17:25 CDT
On Monday, September 19th, 2005 10:16Z Doug Ewell wrote:
> Rightly or wrongly, it is still very easy to find reference sources
> that claim that accented lowercase letters in fr-FR lose, or may
> lose, their accents when converted to uppercase.
"May loose" is correct: the expected (in France) behaviour is this one. Yet
there are people which does not expect it (and complain loudly); and usually
people do not complain very loud about the uppercase being accentauted,
since it is perfectly understandable (the reverse does not hold); usually
high-quality softwares deal with this with an user-configurable option while
"Lose": I am not sure you will find that much reference. In fact, if you
find one that explain this (that is, that accents _should_ be dropped), it
would be undervalued by any professionnal, probably with comments such as
"this is intended only for casual typists, not careful work." Similarly for
softwares that force that behaviour while not required by the underlying
> If this is not, or no longer,
It has never been the case: accents over lowercase have been invented at the
same time as it were over uppercase; printings from XVII c. abound to show
examples of this.
> the case, it would be helpful for the relevant authorities to
You expect the secretary of French Académie to write a letter to the
publisher (a website, a grammar) of such information? sorry, it does not
work that way. The job of the Académie is to collect current and correct
usage, and to reflect it. Bad (in the eye of the beholder) usage is still
usage, and if it lasts long it may even overwhelm the previously seen as
correct one (we have numerous examples in the evolution of the erratic
What is generally seen as authoritative in the professional world (that is,
the equivalents of Chicago's Manual of style) are not that much praised in
France, particularly outside the professional world (typographers,
lexicographers.) Perhaps relevant is the fact that the author of the highly
praised grammar is a Belgian, not a French.
> to contact these sources and politely ask them to
> correct their information.
Done. In fact, many people view the Canadian way (they are clearly the
leaders for this fight) to having went well beyond the "polite" point on
Usually, serious publishers and vendors are willingful to learn, well they
usually learn very quickly and stop defending the dropping of accents (OK,
there will always be trolls.)
This let us with the less serious ones, and those that do not have the
resources; along with the trolls. To be sorted out.
> Partly relevant to this is the perception that in Italian, the
> uppercase form of é is E'.
I do not believe this is the underlying reason.
Yes this solution was chosen for Italian (partly because usually Italian
marks the stress only on the last vowel in a word, so the accent usually
fall on the last letter in the word, which makes the fall-back less ugly),
but I do not believe it was the driving reason to encounter this in French
I rather believe the underlying fact (that accents over capitals were easily
brocken) drove two different solutions, dropping all the accents over
capitals in French (or Spanish), while masquerading it with apostrophe in
A century or more later, when typewriters came in with a limited numbers of
keys, various solutions were designed, deadkeys for all 'accents' for
Spanish because it was the only practical, so even if overstriking accents
over capitals was ugly it worked; only lower case for Italian (dropping by
the way the less used ó on the keyboard, if I understand correctly) while
retaining the masquerading for Italian; and a mixed-cooked solution for
French, with direct keys for the most used accentuated lower case letters,
deadkeys for less used ^ and ¨, and no solution to the uppercase accentuated
letters (neither for Ç, which I find a bigger problem in practice, because
of the widely difference in prononciation the mistake induce.)
> This idea exists because the standard Italian keyboard contains
> a key for lowercase é but not for uppercase É.
That is too much elaborated for me to follow you. Are you actually saying
that localizers had a look at the Italian keyboard layout to figure the
rules to uppercasing French?
If those localizers were French, it would be awkward at best.
If those localizers were US Americans (the only logical alternative), I not
believe so: first I guess many (all?) US Americans involved in i18n know
that French is also spoken in Canada, which would be a easier reference to
deal with (and which indeed have uppercase É, on keyboards and in their
specific codepages etc. Might give hints...) Then French was part of the
'basic' packages (along with UK £, German and Mexican Spanish) of locales,
so done earlier than Italian which was part only of the second shipments,
about at the moment when they realize the issue of keyboards and similar
nightmares... (thus the fr-FR vs fr-CA, or it-IT vs it_CH etc.)
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