French keyboard
File photo: the new keyboard layout should also allow users to operate equally effectively in other regional or foreign languages iStock

The French government wants to introduce a new standardised keyboard that will replace current AZERTY keyboards used by most citizens. The initiative is being launched to protect the sanctity of the French language, which officials believe is experiencing unnecessary alterations and vulnerabilities due to non-standardised keyboards.

The French Ministry for Culture and Communication said it intends to work on developing a new standardised keyboard layout for its citizens as it's "nearly impossible to correctly write French" on those being sold in the country. It has partnered with the standardisation agency AFNOR to design and manufacture the improved keyboards, which will be made available to the public for feedback later this year.

The new keyboard layout "should ideally meet all their needs", says the Ministry for Culture and Communication. It should also allow users to operate equally effectively in other regional or foreign languages, given that most communications require the use of more than one language these days.

Unlike most keyboard devices used in the US and other parts of Europe, French keyboards follow the AZERTY format. However, they never follow a standardised layout. As a result, it is difficult for users to find key characters and/or alphabets on different keyboards. For instance, location of "@" and "€" keys on devices differ from one manufacturer to another. It is also challenging to accent capitalised letters, making it difficult for users to communicate accurately, especially given how accents can alter the entire meaning of a word.

Commenting on the current keyboards available in the market, the Académie Française said, "We can only deplore the fact that the use of accents on capitalized letters is variable. [I]t should be noted that in French, the accent has full orthographic value."

AFNOR project manager Philippe Magnabosco said the initiative does not seek to make any drastic changes to the keyboard layout. Instead, he said, "We want something that's usable, something that's economically feasible. We want it to work." The French government has not said when the new standardised keyboard may be ready.release of its newest venture.