Forum, the French spelling reform, the Office spell-checker and dictionaries

Forum, a weekly magazine published by the University of Montreal, published an interesting article about the « new » spelling in French last week. The original version of this article (in French) is accessible on the web site of the magazine. You can also access the (shorter) English version of the article, which is entitled “Microsoft interested in Forum”. The journalist asked me why our Microsoft Language Resources Center is interested in the electronic corpus of texts published in this magazine. For 3 years now, Forum has indeed exclusively used the « new » spelling recommended by the Académie Française and the Office Québécois de la langue française and this collection of texts can be interesting to assess the penetration of the new spelling, especially to develop future linguistic products. As you certainly know, our French Office speller already integrates all the new forms and Office 2007 offers a series of flexible options which I described here.

The article also informs us that the Larousse dictionary publisher responded positively to a petition asking French dictionaries to be more systematic when covering the new forms. Larousse announced a new dictionary which, in 2008, will include all the new spellings.

Thierry Fontenelle

Microsoft Natural Language Group