Couple vow to fight baby name ruling

Row over accent in Breton language rumbles on

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A proud Breton couple have said they will appeal a court decision banning them from calling their son Fañch.

The problem with the name is the tilde over the letter 'n' in the old-Breton version of the popular name François - which a court in Quimper ruled was incompatible with national law.

"The principle according to which babies' names are chosen by their mothers and fathers must have limits when it comes to using a spelling which includes a character not recognised by the French language," the court's judgment said.

Officials in Quimper had initially refused to write Fañch on the baby's birth certificate, before changing their minds a few days later. Born in early May, the baby already has an identity card and passport - with the tilde in place.

But following a circular, which specifically referred to acceptable accents, from the Ministry of Justice sent out on July 23, earlier this month the Tribunal de grande instance in Quimper ruled the name was unacceptable.

Insisting they will appeal against the court's decision, the parents of the child at the centre of the naming storm said: "We believe that it is not the name of Fañch that threatens national unity, but the refusal to recognise the diversity of the languages of the country

"Living in Brittany, anxious to transmit our values, our culture, our specific language, we gave our child a Breton first name with a Breton spelling and pronunciation. We maintain this choice perfectly legitimate."

The family have the support of a several deputies in the regional assembly. A total 21 signed a letter to the Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet asking her to amend the instruction to officials.

It is not the only case to hit the headlines in recent days. Several days after registering the birth, a writer living in Paris was informed that he could not give his newborn son the middle name 'Marseille', in honour of his home town. He was told that officials would take him to court if he refused to voluntarily remove the name.