Re: French accented letters (was: Re: Monetary decimal separators)

From: Antoine Leca (
Date: Tue Sep 20 2005 - 04:16:40 CDT

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    On Monday, September 19, 2005 16:05Z Jukka K. Korpela wrote:

    > On Mon, 19 Sep 2005, Doug Ewell wrote:
    >> Sorry, you are right. Looking at the French layout again, I see that
    >> the capital letters with cedilla and acute are not supported by
    >> either dedicated keys or dead-key combinations, i.e. not supported
    >> at all.
    > Sounds very odd.

    But true. Neither is on the typical keyboard the Πligature (or digraph),
    used in word as common as beef, eye, or heart.

    > I've sometimes heard that an acute is used with E even
    > when diacritic marks are not otherwise used with capital
    > letters in French.

    Of the accentuated letters taken as Titlecase (capital first in a word, that
    is, unless you write in fullcaps), Ù does not occur in French; similarly, È
    is uncommon to say the least. Ç only occurs as initials in "degenerate"
    forms of Cela (ça) and in also in an important concept of psychanalysis, Çà
    (always capitalized; I guess it is written This in English). À occurs often
    as isolate word (meaning roughly to), but there are a known stream of
    laziness among typists to drop (irregularly) this accent. So yes, the only
    that remains and occurs not infrequently is É; which is by far the most
    frequent in lead. This might explain the 'rule' you heard. Neverless, it is
    not correct according to the rules.

    A widely different yet possible explanation is that on the 437 codepage (as
    on any PC screen on boot), the only French "extended" capitals were Æ, Ü and
    É; the Æ digraph and Ü are very uncommon, so it may explain also the rule.

    > Now it seems that this is a particularly difficult character on French


    > Does this mean that the French use e.g. Alt-0201 when
    > they wish to type E with acute accent (É)?

    You have various options, and I guess Alt+0201 is one of the least used.
    The 'real' typists in France (DTP world) are using Macintoshs, and they get
    É (and the various others) using the CapsLock key.
    Old PC users got used with Alt+144 (which should give you the same thing as
    Alt+0201, but predates it).
    Microsoft Word users OTOH could have read the online help, and might have
    spotted the paragraph that indicates they can type Ctrl+apostrophe (?) then
    E to get É.
    Finally, some people (like Philippe Verdy) have developped extended keyboard
    layouts that have easier ways to input those characters; I find common among
    those extensions to allow AltGr+1 to behaves as acute accent dead key, so
    <AltGr+1, E> gives you É.

    Ah, and I forgot: Canadians just press Shift, then É. While I just press ´
    (between Ñ and Ç), then Shift, then E. In other words, you can _also_ use
    another keyboard, with another layout.


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