Linda Kennedy:

Is it time, Scots, for us to acquire a new accent? Relax. This is not a suggestion we talk posh, or with an English twang.

France is scaling down its use of the circumflex. Remember it from French class at school? ˆ And again, in case you missed it: ˆ My proposal is Scotland takes it. The circumflex really is the perfect Scottish accent – an umbrella for our words. Dreîch. Bûcketing. Sôakin’. Oh yes, it’s brâw!!

So what exactly is happening? France has decided that lots of words are going to be spelled differently: 2,400 of them.

Some, frankly, are quintessentially French. "Oignon" may henceforth be spelt as "ognon", if wished. Given that the French cliche {accent} (safe so far) is a man with a beret and onions round his neck, wearing a Breton sweater, this is as fundamental, really, as haggis losing a "g": Hagis. Or Scotch Broth becoming Scoch broth.

And water lily is to go from "nenuphar" to "nenufar". This is not in itself a biggie, till you remember its role as an impressionist muse. Might this mean that all French museum cards describing Monet’s paintings will include spelling errors? Mon Dieu, they like making work for themselves.

In addition, many French words are shedding the circumflex. Sometimes this little hat, or roof, distinguishes one French word from another but, a lot of the time, as with "être", it just looks down on everything, without doing that much; again quintessentially French. Some of the circumflexes to which France is saying adieu include the one on the word for cost: "coût" is to become "cout".

The changes aim to simplify the French language for children and were actually accepted in 1990 by the Academie Francaise, guardians of "les mots" (they don’t preserve annual tests of vehicle worthiness; come now, dig deep). Publishers in France are finally bringing the alterations into effect in school text books and that’s what’s caused France to go "ooh la la" and "quelle horreur" – whilst they still can. There is also revolutionary fervour: an online uprising seeking to overthrow spelling autocracy called #JeSuisCirconflexe.

To other nations with rich a linguistic heritage, this is a warning. There they were, those French people, thinking they knew their onions about their language, when suddenly, they didn’t know their ognons – at all.

We Scots have many words of our own, unrecognised by those beyond our borders. (Try telling someone in Hong Kong that they’ve got a mark on their bahookie. This kindly fashion warning doesn’t end well). We should be stockpiling campaign hashtags, ready to preserve the core of our language, lest some new spelling rule comes in here. Perhaps we might follow the French pattern for defiance:




#JeSuisAye or #IamAye.