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To simplify language, France changes spelling of 'onion,' hundreds of other words

An official rollout of spelling changes to 2,400 French words begins in September.

By Ed Adamczyk
To simplify language, France changes spelling of 'onion,' hundreds of other words
In French,the oignon becomes an ognon in September, with official spelling changes to onion and 2,400 other words, ordered by the Academie Francaise.. Photo by Africa Studio/Shutterstock

PARIS, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- French is about to get an official overhaul, with spelling changes designed to simplify learning the language.

The modification to 2,400 words was mandated by the quasi-governmental Acadamie Francaise, which ordered the changes to go into effect to coincide with the start of school year beginning in September. Most notably, the agency will drop the 'i,' the circumflex -- a form of punctuation above certain letters -- and the hyphen from certain words. Oignon, or onion, becomes ognon; nénuphar, or waterlily, becomes nénufar; disparaître, or disappear, becomes disparaitre; week-end is now officially weekend, without a hyphen.

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Not everyone is enchantè, or happy, with the changes.

Thursday, the top Twitter topic trending in France was #ReformeOrthographe, or "spelling reform," with comments mostly critical of what is perceived as a dumbing-down of the language, an insult to the nation and a suggestion that French need not be made easier to learn by French children.

"We had to learn to write properly, they can, too," one Twitter commentator wrote.

Florian Philippot of the right-wing National Front political party noted, "The French language is our soul," and Nice Mayor Christian Estorsi called the changes "absurd."

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