The defenders of the French language have been complaining about this phenomenon for a long time now. However, the orthographical crisis in which the SMS generation is stuck in is not likely to end any time soon.
The hours spent daily by millions of French people on MSN, Facebook and Skyrock, combined with the dozens of SMS and texts they send every day, have annihilated their spelling ability.
There was a time when the French language was mastered by most French people, and not neglected.
Let’s take the example of homophones, these words with different meanings but with similar pronunciation (mai, mais, mets, met, mes…). In 2009, these words might be subject to confusion as far as their spelling is concerned whereas 200 years ago, thanks to Jean Goudezki (1866-1934), they resulted in a new literary genre featuring only homophones: the Holorime.
Many other famous writers caught on to the homophony mania. Here are some extreme examples:
Ô, fragiles Hébreux ! Allez, Rebecca, tombe !
Offre à Gilles zèbre, œufs. À l’Érèbe hécatombe ! (Victor Hugo)
Gall, amant de la Reine, alla, tour magnanime,
Galamment de l’arène à la tour Magne, à Nîmes. (Marc Monnier)
Etonnamment monotone et lasse,
Est ton âme en mon automne, hélas ! (Louise de Vilmorin)