the civil status refuses that they name their son “Artús” because of an Occitan accent

After the birth, the first name of the child must be registered by the civil status within 5 days. (Illustrative photo) – Philippe Huguen – AFP

A news Fanch case? As the media reports France Blue Lozere, parents from the town of Mende, in the same department, were refused registration of their newborn in the civil registry last December. The reason for the administration’s refusal: an acute accent on the “u” of the first name Artús, an Occitan first name, which does not appear in the French alphabet.

“The town hall of Mende told me that it could not register this first name because the acute accent on the ‘u’ was not in the French alphabet”, confirms with the national media Lissandre Varenne, the father of the child.

Circular “retrograde”?

As justification, the town hall of Mende says to rely a circular dated July 23, 2014 framing the signs that can be used for surnames, which evokes “the possibility for a civil registrar to admit certain first names comprising diacritical marks not known to the French language.”

It is recalled there that “only the Roman alphabet can be used” but that “the only diacritical signs allowed are dots, umlauts, accents and cedillas as they are subscribed or superscripted to the vowels and consonants authorized by the French language. “

From then on, a list of sixteen authorized particular cases is drawn up: “à – â – ä- é – è – ê – ë – ï – î – ô -ö – ù – û – ü- ÿ – ç.” Only problem: the “ú” of Artús does not appear there, contrary to the “ù.”

“It’s a retrograde circular that prevents historical languages ​​from placing accents of their own”, Lissandre Varenne counterattacks.

“In Occitania, you can call your son Steven or Johnny, but not with an Occitan first name”, he still complains to the national media.

Justice as an ally?

The case is reminiscent of the case of this Breton family who had wanted to call their child Fañch, a local first name refused by the civil status of Quimper on the pretext that the tilde is not used in France. In a first judgment, the city court had endorsed this decision, arguing that authorizing this particularity would amount to “breaking the will of our rule of law to maintain the unity of the country and equality without distinction of origin.”

In November 2018, the Rennes Court of Appeal had finally decided that little Fañch could keep his original spelling. Justice had recalled that this tilde is already used in the French language, in particular in the dictionary of the French Academy.

A reason for hope for the parents of Artús, who for the time being have not yet wished to bring their case to court. On the other hand, Lissandre Varenne hopes that local elected officials, including Carole Delga, President of the Occitanie Region, can help him advance his case. “I hope that the elected officials will use all their weight so that this circular disappears”, he ends.

Original article published on

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