French keyboards

Is France’s unloved AZERTY keyboard heading for the scrapheap?

1. I was taught that capital letters in French don’t have to be accented. I assume from reading this article that this “rule” stemmed from the fact that French typewriters have been unable to do accented capitals. But given that this situation has existed for so long (many decades, despite the article’s expressed “growing disuse of accented capitals” – in fact, accented capitals seem to be becoming more common again, in response to a combination of autocorrect and peevology), people are used to it, it’s become convenient and it creates no barrier to understanding, the calls for accented capitals on keyboards seems rather backward-looking, puristic and unwilling to accept change. Even worse is the laughable lament at the absence of ligatures on the keyboard. It’s a shame that the article doesn’t canvass any opinions on these matters from members of the public.

2. It hadn’t occurred to me that is the only use of u-grave in the language. I guess it’s used to avoid “confusion” with ou meaning or, but there are plenty of homonyms in French so it’s not clear why this one requires such an over-the-top “solution”. I’d just get rid of the distinguishing accent.

cancelled but not cancelled

When thinking of words which don’t mean the same in English as they do in most other languages, a classic example is “control”. But “cancel” is an example that hadn’t occurred to me before. A couple of days ago there was an orienteering race in Sweden and because of some technical difficulties the results of the race were voided. The race wasn’t “cancelled” however, because if it had been, it wouldn’t’ve taken place. I suppose the usual English term in these situations is “declare null and void”.

word of the day: femmephobia

I admit it: I’m not very interested in the debates that seem to rage around feminism. There doesn’t seem too much to it to me other than that sexists, misogynists, MCPs and patriarchalists are dicks. Because of this lack of interest it’s not surprising that I haven’t heard the term “femmephobia” before. I’ve just seen it here, and I read elsewhere on Skepchick that it’s “a particular subset of sexism that suggests that femininity and things regarded as feminine are inherently inferior, bad, weak, stupid, non-preferable, valueless, disempowering, etc.” So you’d be very unlikely to see a femmephobic (or his* son*) wearing pink.

Femmephobia is a silly word, but I’m against the femmephobics.

*Thinking about it, I suppose femmephobics can also be women, and femmephobics might not want their daughters wearing pink either. Femmephobia must be different from insisting that both sexes adhere to their repsective stereotypes. What’s the word for that? Is that just sexism?

Facebook ambiguity

At the bottom of your Facebook timeline it says “See more recent stories.” Really, they ought to remove the word “recent” since as it is it appears to mean something that isn’t true. If you click, you don’t see stories that are more recent, you see further back in the timeline.

fab recent