Spotted in Toronto:

Image à la sauvette

I assume this is a reference to the 1952 Cartier-Bresson book.

Should I gather anything from the apostrophe as accent? Does it connote anything? Is this done in French graphic design now and then, or is it the whimsy of some individual?

  • 2
    whimsy of some individual
    – None
    Aug 3, 2017 at 17:44
  • Isn't it a coma rather than an apostrophe ? But yes I'd probably side with Laure about the whim part, or maybe was it a simple confusion ? Aug 3, 2017 at 17:49
  • Whether a flying comma, an apostrophe or an acute accent, it is incorrect. A grave accent is expected here.
    – jlliagre
    Aug 3, 2017 at 21:53
  • 1
    @HydrangéacéeslesHydrangelles Ah, that makes sense for marquées and other physically composed signs. I think for a digitally created poster like this it would require quite intentional graphic design. I wish I could remember the context better — I just snapped the photo without context, at these coordinates (as reported by my cheap phone)... I think it was in a knickknack/nostalgia store.
    – Luke Sawczak
    Aug 6, 2017 at 3:23

1 Answer 1


This is wildly incorrect typography that a French speaker would perceive as a spelling error.

  • The size of the letter should be the same whether it has an accent or not. The A in à should be identical to the A in image and la.
  • The squiggle above the A is an apostrophe. An accent can have variable thickness throughout its length, but it's almost never curvy (the only fonts I can find with curvy accents are Comic Sans and fonts that simulate handwriting).
  • An apostrophe is slanted in the direction of an acute accent ('´, '´), but it should be a grave accent (ˋ).

This is horribly wrong typography. Whether it's due to ignorance or sloppy execution or an artistic statement is off-topic here.

  • Bon, donc in other words, it means nothing more to a French speaker than any other error would. And good point about the size of the A, which I hadn't even noticed. Merci !
    – Luke Sawczak
    Aug 5, 2017 at 14:04
  • 1
    @LukeSawczak I've seen signs in a hospital in Quebec where the font used the same height for every letter (possibly to save on vertical space), thus making the full diacritics as low as the rest, and consequently the E part of É lower than the other non-accentuated E's. It went against my regular sense of French and somewhat disturbed my reading of the messages, but then, I'm sure anybody would get quite used to it if it was a common practice. I was not otherwise shocking to me. Aug 12, 2017 at 19:32

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