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Fañch Bernard

After a long period of cases and appeals in the courts, Fañch Bernard, two and a half years old now, was allowed to use his Breton name with a tilde (~) as it is spelled in that language.

When the young boy was born in May 2017, a government official refused to register his name with the ñ because the tilde wasn’t part of the French language and he wrote “Fanch” on the birth certificate. A more senior official reversed the decision, but prosecutors took the case to the Kemper (Quimper) local court and they confirmed the original decision again i September 2017. According to the local court, it would be a breach of “the will of our state of law to maintain the unity of the country and equality for all regardless of origin” to allow the little mark to be written officially.

By that time though, little Fañch already had a I.D. card and passport with the troublesome ñ on them.

In the end, the case came before the Appeals Court of Roazhon (Rennes) last October and they allowed the sign. They found that the tilde was not unknown in the history of the French language and in addition the name Fañch had already been accepted by a prosecutor in Roazhon in 2002 and a registrar in Paris in 2009.

There are a couple of well-known Breton writers with the name — Fañch Peru and Fañch Broudig. Also, the tilde can be regularly seen in the surname of the junior Minister for the Interior — Laurent Nuñez.

Fañch’s parents are happy of course — they only wanted to name their child after his grandfather — and the French Republic hasn’t falled apart.