AHC/WI: During the French Revolution, French orthography is standardized to become completely phonetic

During the French Revolution in OTL, the decimal-based Metric system of measurements was developed and adopted in France, along with a decimalization of the monetary system.
They even tried introducing the French Republican Calendar with Decimal Time, which failed because it wasn't planned out well-enough and was too anti-religious.


Would it have been possible in the same vein to also standardize and phoneticize French Orthography during this time, coming up with something similar to the modern orthography of Haitian Creole?
 
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Yes, I think that is entirely possible. Beyond butterfly effect however I don't think it will have any effect on history.
 
That sounds plausible enough. If they were willing to overhaul the time keeping system, it's not unreasonable that they would do the same to the language. The question is whether or not it sticks.

If it doesn't stick, it's the topic of an interesting Wikipedia article and a couple of jokes about those wacky revolutionaries.

If it does, I'm not sure much changes. French would be easier for a non-native speaker to learn, so maybe more people speak it in the (ex-)colonies? That could change France's relationship to her ex-colonies, but then your straying really heavily into the butterfly effect. If the language is easier to learn, maybe Francophilia is more common in other countries, with a few thousand more people learning the language for cultural reasons. Quebecois French would also become much more distinct from Parisian French, and thus in it's written form would be slightly less mutually intelligible. But I don't think that butterflies into anything serious.
 
Would probably lead to too many homophones, and therefore be quite impractical. It's the same reason Japanese can never wholly get rid of kanji.
 
I meant something like this:

eau --> o
trois --> twa
croix --> kwa
And the French for bone is os which phonetically is /o/. And the French contraction for "to the" is au which is phonetically is /o/. And... and... and...

You might say, well-- just figure it out through context, like you would for spoken French. But native speakers are pretty much guaranteed to be better at that than L2 learners, it's the same reason why proposals for writing Native American languages are split between adding a whole mess of diacritics (makes it easier for learners who can't make decisions off context) and leaving them out (the native speakers, who this alphabet is presumably for, can tolerate the ambiguity just fine). The complications of French writing actually make it more approachable, by making words more visibly distinct.

And if we're going after languages with silent consonants, check out Swedish. Look up how to pronounce Oxenstierna or Karl Martin Sandberg. And actually I think Danish and Norwegian are worse
 
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trois --> twa
croix --> kwa
Those would need to be trwa and crwa, as there is very much an R sound in them. I think it would be simpler to just drop the final letter from each and make them troi/croi.
In French, the -oi digraph always sounds like /wa/ so there is no particular reason to replace it with -wa, other than to make it look more obviously different than before.

French orthography could have been simplified somewhat more than it was OTL, but it is difficult to make it truly phonetic. There are a large number of homonyms for which spelling is used for differentiation.

For example, parler, parlez, parlé and parlai are homonyms but they have distinct grammatical meanings.

Haitian Creole does not only have simplified spelling, it has massively simplified grammar : there is no verb conjugation, only tense markers. That makes it much easier to reform spelling.
 
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During the French Revolution in OTL, the decimal-based Metric system of measurements was developed and adopted in France, along with a decimalization of the monetary system.
They even tried introducing the French Republican Calendar with Decimal Time, which failed because it wasn't planned out well-enough and was too anti-religious.


Would it have been possible in the same vein to also standardize and phoneticize French Orthography during this time, coming up with something similar to the modern orthography of Haitian Creole?
That's actually not that far-fetched. There has always been gradual changes to French orthography with each updating of the Académie française's dictionary. As a result, it's possible that during the Revolution, the dictionary gets updated to include more radical phonetic spelling. Whether it survives past the Revolution or not, I don't know.
 
Those would need to be trwa and crwa, as there is very much an R sound in them. I think it would be simpler to just drop the final letter from each and make them troi/croi.
In French, the -oi digraph always sounds like /wa/ so there is no particular reason to replace it with -wa, other than to make it look more obviously different than before.
Phonetic spelling like that could also widen the difference between France and the rest of the Francophonie at the time. As far as <oi> goes, it would certainly be the case with North America, at least, where the old pronunciation was still alive and well ([we] in open syllables, [wɛ] in closed syllables except after /r/, where it's a simple [e]/[ɛ] distinction).
 
If it does, I'm not sure much changes. French would be easier for a non-native speaker to learn, so maybe more people speak it in the (ex-)colonies? That could change France's relationship to her ex-colonies, but then your straying really heavily into the butterfly effect. If the language is easier to learn, maybe Francophilia is more common in other countries, with a few thousand more people learning the language for cultural reasons. Quebecois French would also become much more distinct from Parisian French, and thus in it's written form would be slightly less mutually intelligible. But I don't think that butterflies into anything serious.
People typically learn languages when there is an incentive to do so
 
Quebecois French would also become much more distinct from Parisian French,
Not just the bundle of varieties originating in Lower Canada > Canada East > Québec, mind you (including diaspora varieties in the US), but also Louisiana French, Acadian French, random clusters of French in the United States (including a sizable community in Missouri), and the like. Which, like New World varieties of European languages in general, tend to be more archaic/conservative than the continued evolution in Europe, whether it be in basilectal varieties or promoted to literary status (or both - English itself is a good example of this). Which could provide an impetus for an independent standardization of Canadian French that comes close to both Classical French and the 1740 and 1762 editions of the Académie française's dictionary, and especially enshrining those features common to both Laurentian and Acadian varieties which also coincide with "posh" French (even if it was upper-class at the time or denigrated as "provincial" by Revolutionary authorities). The resulting spelling will look familiar to those of us IOTL who were taught current French orthography, either before or after the 1990 reforms, though would still seem a bit odd because ITTL the OTL 1835 reform would not have taken place, as would subsequent changes since then. This would not be unusual - Brazil was in a similar situation, orthography-wise, with Portuguese until the 1940s.
 
Phonetic spelling like that could also widen the difference between France and the rest of the Francophonie at the time. As far as <oi> goes, it would certainly be the case with North America, at least, where the old pronunciation was still alive and well ([we] in open syllables, [wɛ] in closed syllables except after /r/, where it's a simple [e]/[ɛ] distinction).
This is true. In fact it is believed that the sound shift occurred right around the Revolution (in part because the traditional pronunciation became associated with the aristocracy).

If it does, I'm not sure much changes. French would be easier for a non-native speaker to learn, so maybe more people speak it in the (ex-)colonies? That could change France's relationship to her ex-colonies, but then your straying really heavily into the butterfly effect.
It could make it slightly easier for a non-native to learn, but the reason why more people in the African countries don't speak French has to do with lack of access to school. People who are able to attend school learn it well (it is typically the language of instruction).
 
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