Today's oddball news is a story about how the French Ministry of Culture and Communication is drawing up a plan to standardize the French-language computer keyboard. The French authorities claim the design of non-standardized AZERTY keyboards makes it almost impossible to correctlyw rite French on keyboards sold in the country today. This results in the language's grammatical rules being flouted more regularly, something French language purist simply can't tolerate.
The placement of the "@" and "€" keys, for example, is inconsistent across French keyboards, and accenting capitalized letters can be particularly difficult, requiring commands that aren't obvious to many users — or, in the case of the "Ç" character on PCs, impossible. That's a problem, considering that "Ça" ("that") is commonly used at the beginning of sentences, and that surnames are often written in all-uppercase on government documents. It can also lead to confusion; an example cited by the ministry compares "INTERNE" (a medical intern) to "INTERNÉ" (a mental health patient).
"We can only deplore the fact that the use of accents on capitalized letters is variable," the Académie Française, the official guardian of the French language, says on its website, in a statement cited in the ministry report. "[I]t should be noted that in French, the accent has full orthographic value," it added, emphasizing its importance.