Born in Quimper in 2017, Fañch will have taken less time to learn to write his first name than the Republic to authorize him. Despite recurring promises, the tilde (~) remains prohibited in civil status. Just like many other signs of regional languages. On May 11, Fañch Bernard will be just 4 years old. “He knows how to write his first name with the tilde”, smiles his father Jean-Christophe Bernard. “Sometimes he even adds it to other names. “
When in May 2017, the prosecutor opposed the registration of this small wave on his birth certificate, the case moved the defenders of regional languages. On September 13, 2017, the court of Quimper is categorical: authorizing the tilde would amount “to breaking the will of our rule of law to maintain the unity of the country”, he believes, citing the law of 2 Thermidor Year II ( July 20, 1794) which imposed, during the Terror, French as the only language of administration. But it is above all a ministerial circular of 2014, listing sixteen signs (accent, umlaut, cedilla, etc.) authorized on certain letters only, which prohibits the tilde in civil status.
An exhaustive list of diacritics?
In November 2018, the Rennes Court of Appeal finally ruled in favor of the family, ruling that the use of the tilde “is not unknown in the French language”. A cassation appeal from the public prosecutor’s office was declared inadmissible in October 2019. But, in the absence of any amendment to the circular, the problem remained. Thus, in November 2019, the Brest prosecutor’s office banned the tilde for a second Fañch, born in Morlaix.
Faced with the inertia of the administration, the Breton deputy Paul Molac (Liberties and Territories) announces a bill (PPL) for the promotion of regional languages which will allow “all diacritics of regional languages” to be authorized.
A month later, in February 2020, it is the President of the National Assembly, the Finistérien Richard Ferrand (LREM), who assures him: “a decree for Fañch” is “being finalized” at the Chancellery.
Then nothing more happens. Until December 2020 and the examination of the PPL of Paul Molac in the Senate. The Minister of Education Jean-Michel Blanquer then promises “a decree in the Council of State” specifying “before the end of January 2021, the list of regional diacritics” authorized in the civil registry.
What is needed is that they make possible the use of the diacritics of the Latin alphabet in general.
“Such a list was sent to me, but it was marked non-exhaustive. Does the Ministry of Culture only have an exhaustive list? », Then launched Senator Monique de Marco, rapporteur for the PPL. In her report, Monique de Marco detailed a list of several signs provided by the administration: “there is a, e, i, o, u in Tahitian; in Catalan, Creole and Occitan the sign ò; in Alsatian and Corsican, the sign ì. “
“The problem with a closed list is that they may well have forgotten some. What is needed is that they make possible the use of the diacritics of the Latin alphabet in general “, estimates Philippe Blanchet, professor of socio-linguistics at the University of Rennes 2.” Otherwise we risk to find themselves in a situation of blockage on a point that they had not foreseen. ”All the more so since there are no less than 82 minority or regional languages in mainland France and overseas.
Paul Molac denounces a “bad will”
Asked about the progress of the case, the Ministry of Culture indicates that it has no news of this draft decree “ carried by the Chancellery “. The Department of Justice did not follow up.
“The first letter I wrote on diacritics was in September 2017. It shows a certain inertia that borders on bad will,” said Paul Molac. “We know they’ve been taking us around from the start. We are always promised the decree and, for the moment, we do not see anything. If it’s in the law, there won’t be a need for the decree. His PPL is due to pass second reading in the Assembly on April 8.
In the meantime, each case is settled locally. The mayor of Pabu (Côtes d’Armor) has authorized an Awen Fañch in May 2020, while Alexandra Ibañez obtained in July, after three years of proceedings, the reestablishment of the tilde on the surname of her son.
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