Need help with French circumflex

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XJ_0
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Need help with French circumflex

Postby XJ_0 » Mon Nov 03, 2014 1:33 am UTC

In a game I am playing, I want to name a character "Tempête de Neige," but the circumflex e will not show up properly (it gets turned into strange characters, and the appearance makes me unhappy). I am wondering if there are any other ways to type "ê" with English characters that will still allow this to be correctly understood.

(For example, I had found that the German umlauts could be typed by adding an "-e" to a regular vowel ("ü" → "ue") and be correctly understood.)

I have been trying various ways to search with Google, but I am not finding anything that answers this.

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somehow
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Re: Need help with French circumflex

Postby somehow » Mon Nov 03, 2014 7:26 am UTC

My understanding is that the reason one can replace an umlauted vowel in German with the same vowel followed by an "e" is that words that are now spelled with "ü", "ö", etc, were once spelled with "ue", "oe", etc.; that is, the umlaut is an orthographic shorthand for "there used to be an 'e' after this vowel".

In French, if I recall correctly, the analogous thing is that "ê" occurs in places where there used to be an "es", back in Medieval French. I have no sense of whether "Tempeste de Neige" would be immediately intelligible as "Tempête de Neige" to a French speaker, but this seems like the answer to your question, more or less.

(Wikipedia says something sort of similar: "In some varieties, such as in Belgian French, Swiss French and Acadian French, vowels with a circumflex are long: fête [fɛːt] (party) is longer than faite [fɛt]. This length compensates for a deleted consonant, usually s." link)
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Lazar
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Re: Need help with French circumflex

Postby Lazar » Mon Nov 03, 2014 1:20 pm UTC

somehow wrote:In French, if I recall correctly, the analogous thing is that "ê" occurs in places where there used to be an "es", back in Medieval French. I have no sense of whether "Tempeste de Neige" would be immediately intelligible as "Tempête de Neige" to a French speaker, but this seems like the answer to your question, more or less.

I disagree. It's true that most – though not all – instances of the French circumflex derive from an earlier s, but s is not an accepted substitute for it in modern written French in the way that e is for the umlaut in German. It would look silly (and go against the etymology) to write "âge, bâiller, diplôme, grâce, sûr" as "asge, basiller, diplosme, grasce, susr".
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somehow
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Re: Need help with French circumflex

Postby somehow » Mon Nov 03, 2014 8:56 pm UTC

Sorry, now that I reread my previous post I see that it's written with a good deal more confidence than I intended. I know pretty little about French, and have no sense of what would look sensible to a modern French speaker. The only thing I'm sure about is that some instances of "ê" in modern French words reflect the fact that an older form of a word had an "es" there. I have no idea if this applies at all to circumflexes (circumflices?) on other vowels, and I'm sure there are examples of modern French words in which there is an "ê" that does not reflect a historical "es". In fact, there must be such examples, given that the Wikipedia page I linked to says that the lengthening of a vowel with a circumflex "compensates for a deleted consonant, usually s" (and therefore presumably not always s).

But "tempête" actually is an example of a word in which the "ê" replaced an "es", since it comes from the Old French "tempeste", so if you felt like just naming the character in Old French instead of modern French, you could use "tempeste" instead of "tempête". However, Wiktionary tells me that "neige" (snow) was derived from the verb "neiger" (to snow) and replaced the Old French word for snow, which was "noif", so to be consistently Old-French about it I suppose you'd have to go with "Tempeste de noif" or something similar.
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