Know your onions

onion.jpgHappy Burns’ Night (I will report later on how we are going to be spending it).

Here’s one for the linguists, scholars and pedants amongst us.

It has come to the attention of the house in recent days that bags of onions from the supermarket state on the label that they contain ‘ognons’ and not ‘oignons’. The larder contained a number of bags of ‘Ognons de Mulhouse’ and even a bag of our favourite ‘Ognons Rosés de Roscoff’. Some (myself included) were of the view that someone in the labelling department had taught their computer the wrong spelling of ‘oignons’.

Binam did some quick research and informed us that in fact the Académie Francaise declared a new orthography in 2009 dropping the ‘i’ from ‘oignon’ and that the new spelling is in fact OGNON.

Further research indicated that Google currently returns around 1,470,000 hits for oignon and only 164,000 for ognon (that’s only just less than 10% using the new orthography). On French websites around 17% of references to onions used the new spelling, whereas on Belgian sites it’s about 5%, but this will no doubt increase now the supermarkets have got wind of it.  A search indicates that about 14% of Canadians are using their ognon, and the University of Montreal has been running seminars.

So now I know my onions I will not be making that mistake again.

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