March 14, 2018 9:30 am
This Video by Arte Karambolage tells the unique story of friendly and elegant little Cédille, a common Latin script letter used in French spelling. The commonly ill-reputed Cédille tends to give terrible headaches to new French learners and scares them off often. This Video tries to polish Cédille’s image and explains us how the sign is used and came about.
As the video perfectly illustrates, Cédille modifies a word’s pronunciation and is commonly placed under the ‘c’ to produce the [s] sound. Today, we can find this sign not only in French but as part of the alphabet in other Roman languages like Portuguese and Catalan as well as Albanian, Azerbaijani, Manx, Tatar, Turkish, Turkmen, Kurdish and Zazaki. Cédille was first discovered in Spain in 1492 but has, by now, disappeared from the Spanish alphabet. Becoming famous in France in only 1529, Cédille still has its modest yet uncontested place in the French dictionary. However, today’s World Wide Web pressures French and other languages’ spelling towards standardization and represents poor Cédille’s most dreaded enemy throughout its history.
The almost pitiful helplessness of Cédille against today’s pressure of online monolingualism and standardization should encourage all language learners to be compassionate. In the name of (linguistic) diversity and historic value, let us take out our French books and help Cédille and her sisters, Virgule and Apostrophe, to survive!
Written by Lissa Haid-Schmallenberg, Study Visitor at the Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament (Luxembourg). Lissa is a student at the University of Luxembourg and currently enrolled in the trilingual Master Learning and Communication in multilingual and multicultural Contexts. She holds a Bachelor degree in Social and Cultural Education from the University of Bologna, Italy.
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