The Loss of the Circumflex

Justin E. H. Smith in his blog:

ScreenHunter_1671 Feb. 07 19.13An official reform of French spelling was recently announced, causing no small uproar on the Internet, and presumably in real life too (I don't really talk to people), as to whether this is good or bad.

There were three broad sorts of change. The first are changes to the spelling of words in order to better reflect their pronunciation. The most common example cited has been the replacement ofoignon by ognon. I confess I had always thought the first syllable of this word was supposed to be pronounced as in oie ('goose'), that is, roughly as in the first syllable of the English water. I noticed people around me were pronouncing it as ognon, but took this for a regionalism or a sort of laziness. I can't say I care so much about this change, but ognon looks awfully strange to me, too much like a variation on some proto-Slavic root for fire, as in the Russian огонь ('ogon''), whose genitive is огня ('ognya') and whose Sanskrit cousin is the goddess अग्नि (Agni): in all of which cases the g is pronounced before the n, rather than indicating a softening in the termination of the n and providing a faint iotation to the vowel that follows. I expect I will be practicing orthographic disobedience whenever I write that word in the future, not out of firm principle, but only out of soft preference.

The second sort of reform has mostly to do with hyphens, e.g., transforming that most French of words (at least since Godard), week-end, into weekend. This seems to follow a broad trend that is much further along in English (a hundred years ago it was common to see dog-house, out-fit, and so on), and I find I really could not care less.

More here.