"Fransin" simplified orthography for French

Doug Ewell doug at ewellic.org
Sat Feb 11 20:04:44 CET 2017

I am forwarding this information to the list as a service to the 
requester, Pierre Paillé. I'm expecting that he will join this list 
shortly to participate in any discussion that follows.

Briefly, the request is for a variant subtag to represent a simplified 
orthography for French. It's not clear yet whether this system is 
actually in use by anyone other than the inventors, which of course is 

The references to ‘ffs’ can be ignored here; they have to do with the 
fact that Pierre originally proposed this to ISO 639-3/RA as a language 
code element. Obviously if it is approved here as a variant, the subtag 
value would have to fit length constraints, and in fact ‘fransin’ seems 

Pierre's original request was in rich text, and included nice tables and 
formatting, but unfortunately went well over 100 kB and thus could not 
be posted to this list. The nicely formatted version (in French) can be 
found at the web site noted at the top of the post.

Doug Ewell | Thornton, CO, US | ewellic.org

--- Original message ---

Hello Doug,

As explained in this page in our web site: 
http://www.fransin.org/WebPage_About.aspx, the Fransin is a simplified 
phonetic transcription of the French language (‘fransé fonétik sinplifié’ 
in Fransin => ‘ffs’ code).

The next block of text below (between the 2 next horizontal lines) is an 
English translation of this web page (that explains the target of the 
Fransin transcription of the French language):

It is a fact that people speaking French understand themselves perfectly 
in the vast majority of cases. It is therefore possible to write 
phonetically the French without any loss of meaning: the context 
generally allows us to overcome the ambiguities born from the many 
homophonies of the French language.

Why trying to transcribe the French phonetically? Because it takes years 
of learning to master the spelling of French (orthography, conjugation, 
grammar): its complexity is such that some people never even do it 
perfectly after decades... A contrario, it takes only a few minutes to 
master the rules of Fransin. This being done, we can immediately write 
without committing any fault because we only need to reproduce in 
writing what we heard; we can also read, and so access to the knowledge.

The simplification that is provided by Fransin has the following 

To allow the millions of people mastering the listening of French - but 
not its writing/reading - to potentially access, in Fransin, to the 
universal knowledge corresponding to the French language corpus that is 
transcribed into Fransin (Wikipedia firstly, and then all the digital 
books in the public domain).
To facilitate the accessing to the French language by the immigrants, 
and to promote its use to foreigners who tend to learn English instead 
of French.
Perhaps, in the future, to save children years of suffering related to 
the mandatory learning of French spelling and conjugation. Indeed, 
although the scripting of French is the witness to the history of the 
French language (and the story of the French language is very exciting 
and interesting), why should the whole population be experts in this 
particular field of historical science on a daily basis?
Much more hypothetically, to annihilate the socially discriminating 
factor of mastering French spelling?

People who master the French scripting can read and write Fransin fairly 
easily, although the force of habit makes this exercise rather painful, 
even very unpleasant at first glance: our brain sees mistakes 

The learning of Fransin is very fast: it is enough to know the unique 
sound corresponding to each letter or couple of letters of the alphabet 
as indicated in the table below:

la, apparemment



je, jeu, leur, œuvre, rocheux, voient

été, père, fête, fait, pied, lier,…

fer, orthographe

gâteau, guère, second

dix, dynamo

je, rage

képi, carpe, quart




ode, aube, eau



souris, casser, ça, ceci, opération

toit, théâtre, question



wikipédia, one-woman-show

joyeux, paille, pareil

zèle, rase



pendant, rampe, tempe

pin, pain, peint, timbre

donc, tomber





In Fransin, the letter 'c' and the letter 'h' do not exist in isolation: 
they are always associated together to make the sound [ch].

The different sounds close to the sound [e] are transcribed by the 
letter 'e':

{ je   → je }

{ jeu   → je }

{ leur   → ler }

{ œuvre   → evr }

The terminal 'e' of a word, when it is silent, is generally omitted as 
for the words:

{ artiste   → artist }

{ roche   → roch }

On the other hand, a final 'e' is written if it exists phonetically:

{ rocheux  → roche }

Warning! The final letter {e} of a French word, when it is muted - but 
preceded by the letter {n} - is preserved in the case where its presence 
makes it possible to signal the non-nasalization of the previous vowel :

{ une  → une }

   and NOT :

{ une   ↵ ün }

{ tétine   → tétine }

   and NOT :

{ tétine  ↵ tétïn }

When the French letter 'e' is silent within a word, both transcriptions 
with or without 'e' are possible:

{ paquebot   → pakebo } : OK

{ paquebot   → pakbo } : OK

The different sounds close to the sound [é] are all transcribed by the 
letter {é} as in:

{ été   → été }

{ père   → pér }

{ fête   → fét }

{ un fait   → un fét }

{ c'est fait   → s'é fé }

{ pied   → pié }

{ lier   → lié }

The letter {y} is used to transcribe the [i-wet] sound when it is in 
front of a vowel, as in :

{ paille   → pay }

{ joyeux  → joiye }

On the other hand, this [i-wet] sound is transcribed by the letter 'i' 
(as in French) when it is before a consonant as for the words :

{ opération   → opérasion }

{ tien   → tiin }

The letter 'x' of the French is not used phonetically in Fransin: it is 
replaced by its three phonetic transcriptions namely:

gz comme pour :
{ exact   → égzakt}

kx comme pour :
{ excellent   → éksélan}

s comme pour :
{ dix   → dis}

Nevertheless the letter ‘x’ is used as a not-pronounced-mark to signify 
the plural against singular when there is no difference of pronunciation 
between both:

singular :
{ il voit   → il voi}

plural :
{ ils voient   → ilx voi}

The letter 'w' is used only in the transcription of words of foreign 
origin ('oui' remains 'oui', and not 'wi') :

{ Wikipedia   → Wikipédia }

{ one-woman-show   → ouane-woumane-cho }

{ Adenauer   → Adénawér }

The letter 'q' is not used at all in transcription Fransin.

In Fransin, sentences do not necessarily have to start with a capital 
letter. The capital letters are rather intended to indicate that the 
word is not a Fransin word (abbreviations, to keep the spelling of the 
proper names, names of foreign origin, etc.). We will therefore write 

{ C’est un hooligan.   → s’é un Hooligan.}

{ C’est un hooligan.   → s’é un ouligane.}

Phonetical links made in French for words starting with a vowel are 
freely transcribed in Fransin without this being a fault :

{ les enfants   → lé anfan }

{ les enfants   → léz anfan }

{ les enfants   → lé zanfan }

Note: the current Fransin-transcriber 1.0 outputs the first syntax 
because it has been the simplest to develop. Nevertheless IT improvement 
seems possible in order to output the second syntax that is much more 
comfortable visually for readers.

Recalling only the first of the four potential advantages of Fransin 
highlighted above, it is important to try to quantify it:

According to Wikipedia, The Francophone community in 2015 was 284 
million people in 2015.

According to Wikipedia, the illiteracy rate of 15-year-olds in France in 
2010 is slightly under 20%.

Nevertheless, this percentage must be lower in the overall Francophone 
population because:

-          young French people can learn to read after their 15th 
birthday, especially at the beginning of their young adult life,

-          speaking French in a country other than France samples 
persons more in the portion of the people who had the chance to take a 
course in their life => knowing the French, they have also learned how 
to read and write it (see report: 
http://www.francophonie.org/Langue-Francaise-2014 ).

But, by default of better information, let us keep this order of 
magnitude: 20%. We thus obtain approximately 250 million Francophones x 
20% illiteracy = 50 million francophone illiterate persons.

Among these 50 million persons, we can expect to render a service to 
about 20% (?) of them (mainly the younger ones; the other ones may live 
in such a difficult material environment that Internet, computers, 
smartphones are just not available): The computation gives a potential 
of 10 million people.

The big question is now to estimate the final percentage of persons 
among these 10 millions who will have the courage and the willingness of 
learning the Fransin to access to the knowledge?

Even if we take 1 person about 100, we get finally the very pessimistic 
figure of 100.000 persons, for which the Fransin will become the quicker 
mean to access to the knowledge.

Even if this very pessimistic figure looks small, we think that these 
people (output from full analphabetism thanks to Fransin) could play a 
very important role within their own community, which is a key point to 

And these people might be perhaps able to drain other people not in the 
francophone community to the French, since the latter would become very 
easy to learn thanks to its phonetical transcription in Fransin?

The 3rd advantage relating to the teaching of Fransin to children is 
only listed here as a future hypothetical perspective. Nevertheless we 
can say today that many hundreds (thousands?) of hours of learning the 
French spelling and conjugation could be saved by children, and so 
reinvested in other teachings creating immediate and tangible gains for 
the community? Without falling into any hasty comparison, it is 
nevertheless true that the Finn and the German children have the chance 
to learn a language that is written phonetically: Finland is a very 
small country but they have been able to invent mobile telephony (one of 
the more important revolutions of the end of the 20th century), and 
Germany is one of the most flourishing economy in the world.

What is the materiality of Fransin today?

-          We currently have a computerized dictionary containing the 
transcriptions of 1,167,439 words from French to Fransin. We have 
transcribed almost all the French terms existing in: 

-          We developed a first version of a French-to-Fransin text 
transcription engine, a web version of which is already accessible to: 
http://www.fransin.org/WebPage_ Transcripter.aspx.

-          We already used this transcription engine to transcribe the 
wiki-source codes of all the pages of the French Wikipedia into Fransin: 
these 3.109.204 Wikipedia articles s of Fransin are currently available 
in our database and could be used immediately to feed a Fransin version 
of French Wikipedia, which is our first goal to reach.

-          If the Wikipedia-ffs reaches its goal (100.000 readers?), our 
group of IT persons will launch the step-by-step transcriptions of all 
the digitalized books that are available in the public domain.

-          Writing correctors in Fransin will be also our next IT 
priority for the Windows, Google, Apple Operating Systems.

-          We have created a first version of the web site: 
www.fransin.org which will allow the community to correct the 
French-Fransin transcription errors, the errors that have crept into the 
transcriptions of the Fransin Wiki pages and digitalized books, and 
also, in the future, to define collaboratively the evolution of the 

About the Fransin as a transcription of the French, we think that it is 
always possible to endlessly discuss religiously of its characteristics. 
But this is not the point today: the Fransin is not an ideal language 
engraved in marble forever: it is a historical process driven 
collaboratively by a community (only 4 persons today).

Nevertheless we can prove that the current version 1.0 of Fransin is a 
point of convergence representing a good equilibrium between the 
different constraints associated to its goals:

-          It is nearly phonetical. Any attempt to make it 100%-phonetic 
would lead to much more complexity to learn it without any real 
advantage for students (they may have already their own local way of 

-          It is the closest as possible to the French: several 
intermediary opportunities of interesting theoretical changes have 
raised during its definition: all the ones that would have been too far 
from French have been discarded.

-          It fits the materiality of the world: it takes into account 
the difficulty of keying texts with a smartphone. Typically only 1 
accent is remaining: the one on the ‘e’ to form the existing French 
letter {é}. Any attempt to replace this {é} by something without accent 
has led to versions that were too difficult to read by French readers.

Compared to the other historical proposals of alternative orthographies 
of French, the Fransin seems to be the only one that:

-          does not present itself as being theoretically “ultimate”, 
but only as a “becoming”.

-          is supported by a powerful IT force able to ensure this 

These 2 points are the 2 key-factors that could make the Fransin a 
success, if there is an effective need for it.

If we have the assurance that Wikimedia will propose a Fransin version 
of the French Wikipedia, we wish to invest more in this computer project 
so that the transcription of the French pages in Fransin is executed 
continuously by our transcription engine: information will always remain 
up to date without delay, and without any need of Fransin contributors, 
and also without any need of page content supervising by Wikimedia since 
this supervising has already been done in the French version of the 

As everything will be computerized, the human cost of this attempt will 
be very small, but its potential effect, massive. As the goal of our 
project is more and more important everyday (limiting the desperate 
immigrations by providing educational means locally, and preventing the 
rising of the feeling of exclusion leading to introspective 
communitarianism, and so violence), we would like to try… to see if we 
could help… somewhere.

As it is, we were told by Wikimedia: 1) that we need a 639-3 code for 
the Fransin to go ahead, and 2) that SIL manages these codes.

Thanks to Melinda we understood that the 636-3 codes refer only to 
spoken languages, and not to writing variations. As the Fransin is an 
alternative writing of French, we have been told that our request falls 
in your perimeter.

We suggest you to entrust us a writing-variation-of-French code for the 
Fransin in order to continue our attempt to help people with our Fransin 
IT project. Note that this code could be made available/free again in 
2-3 years if we are not successful.

We are available for any demonstration of our achievement in your office 
at your convenience.

Best Regards.

Pierre Paillé
30, rue Notre-Dame des Victoires
Bâtiment B, 8ème étage
75002 PARIS

PS: We have not yet created any French non-profitable association 
entrusted with the development of the Fransin.
This will be done as soon as we will get our code and the approval of 
Wikimedia that they accept to run a Wikipedia-fr-ffs.

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