What if you take advantage of the start of the school year to finally improve your spelling? Whether you are a schoolboy or in active life, the subtleties of the French language sometimes seem very complicated. It is precisely for this reason that Camille Salomon, 32, has just published a book entitled Spelling in 100 mind maps and audio. A professional proofreader, this Breton author also leads the orthoculture podcast in which she dissects the most common mistakes and promotes the beauty of words. She’s not the only one to champion the importance of writing. A collective of writers and intellectuals (including Elisabeth Badinter, Isabelle Carré and Jamel Debbouze) arrested on Tuesday, in a grandstand at World, the Minister of National Education to ask him to “give back to writing its letters of nobility” from primary school. Interview with an enthusiast.
How do you become a spelling professional?
In 2018, I wrote my first youth novel and, before submitting it to a publishing house, I decided to have it corrected. When I got back from my corrector, it clicked. The rendering was amazing. The text was, in my eyes, fifteen times better. Beyond the few mistakes, she had streamlined everything, rectified the small inconsistencies, reformulated the less well articulated sentences. I said to myself: “I want to do the same, I want to help the authors to sublimate their texts”. I already had a good level, I studied literature, but I trained myself, I became interested in all the people who approach spelling and the French language, and I launched my business.
What do you like so much about spelling?
Succeed in making attractive what seems boring to others! Take a rule and adapt it to its context. This is the purpose of the book and the podcast. It may seem boring when you’re a college or high school student, but it’s really like a game when you’re interested in it. For me, it’s a passion.
Why is it really important to master spelling?
It’s important to do your best when you return something to someone. It’s a form of respect. And beyond the eyes of others, it’s our language, it’s important to master it for yourself. We often hear that the requirement is lost, that the language of Molière is no longer what it was. It’s true that it is getting simpler, that there are Anglicisms, but I think we have to live with our century. The language evolves, it is normal. I’m not making a witch hunt out of it. The language must be accessible to the greatest number, it must not be reserved for the bourgeois or the few. You have to have a bit of modernity, like for the proximity agreements that are tolerated by the French Academy, for example.
Are the French zero as we often hear?
You have to de-dramatize. We blame a lot of social networks, but I think we write a lot more than twenty years ago. I’m not sure that people are more useless, it’s especially that errors are seen much more. As part of my job, I read a lot of new authors. There are some, of course, who have difficulties, but, overall, I am not shocked by the level of the writings returned. Nevertheless, it is possible to improve.
Some people feel complex about their level, to the point of avoiding writing…
It’s a complex that many have and it’s a shame. It is not insurmountable to progress in spelling. Everyone must succeed in finding their own method: it can be by reading, listening to podcasts, even watching video channels because there are some who popularize it very well. There are also very competent associations. It’s never too late to learn. It just takes effort and willpower. And even for those who consider themselves very comfortable, there are always booster shots that are good to take.
Who is your book for?
To everyone from the end of college class. The book cannot be read in one go, it is not a novel. Nor is it a school method. I consider him more as a fellow traveler. We sweep away the most frequent errors, whether pure spelling, grammar or conjugation. I selected one hundred, based on what jumped out at me. I offer tips, mnemonics, exercises to train. It’s fast, a rule can be assimilated in a few minutes. It is also available in audio for those who are less comfortable in writing. You can actually progress quite quickly.
What are the most common errors you encounter?
There are quite a few… (laughs) The choice of the past participle or the infinitive, the agreement of the adjective, the agreement of the colors, the accent on the A, the “ça va” written “sa va”, first or second, spot or task… I start the book with the rule of the future simple and the conditional, it’s not a coincidence, it’s really an unavoidable error. The “if I would have”, I heard it a lot around me, it’s one of the things that horrifies me the most.
How to transmit the desire to improve?
I was lucky to come across fascinating teachers who communicated to me the love of the French language. So the role of the school is extremely important. Regular reading also helps enormously. Whether it’s classics or modern books, when you come across a book that you’re going to love, you’re bound to want to read another. Each author transmits a vocabulary, a way of expressing yourself that you will store without even thinking about it. Any form of reading is beneficial, regardless of the medium, including a comic or manga. Audio books, which correspond better to certain people, are the same: listening to them allows you to store the French language.
What do you think of the platform of intellectuals questioning the government in The world ?
It is a very good thing. The youth of today will be our politicians of tomorrow. It is important that children learn early to express themselves correctly, to develop their own thinking. It can go through the intervention of professionals in the school environment, such as writers, philosophers or psychologists. The writing workshops, I gave in several primary schools, it works well. When you take children to write about worlds that they like, like fantasy, they let go. The teachers do everything they can but they may not have the means to do better. Parents also need to get involved.