Letter: Spelling corrections

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your leader on the importance of correct spelling (21 January) perhaps includes one exaggeration: "Unlike the French, to whom neologism is like alien invasion, we British take these things informally."

The respected Dictionnaire historique de la langue francaise (Robert) includes lengthy articles on neologisms, on borrowings and on anglicisms. These have been major factors in the formation of the French language, I read; the Academy has always included cautious conservatives and those pressing for wide enrichment; the government (never the Academy) has recently tried to make laws encouraging genuine French neologisms to replace imported American ones; the Supreme Court has declared French people have a natural right to say what they like and thrown these out; young French people speak a dialect incomprehensible to their elders, partly from American imports indeed, but equally from home-made novelties.

Alien invasion?

JOHN LIVINGSTONE

Biarritz, France

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