Language Matters

Kathleen Stein Smith, Ph.D

Is French grammar ready to hang up the ‘hat’?

“France’s education ministry on Thursday came under fire over teaching reforms that will allegedly see the circumflex accent, better known as “the hat”, disappear from French language textbooks.

Education officials fended off the criticism, denying they had ordered the eradication of the circumflex – the mark often found above letters in French and other languages, as in “â” – or even that it was destined to bite the dust.

But before the education ministry could defend itself or the future of the circumflex, it became a cause célèbre on Twitter and other social media websites.

The hashtag #JeSuisCirconflexe – a reference to the popular slogan #JeSuisCharlie that appeared after the deadly attacks on the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo last year – was shared thousands of times on Thursday.”

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