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One Frenchman's linguistic crusade to remove the 'é' from 'Lubéron' once and for all

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One Frenchman's linguistic crusade to remove the 'é' from 'Lubéron' once and for all
Lavender fields in the picturesque Luberon region. AFP.
13:43 CEST+02:00
Everyone knows how seriously the French take their own language. And now one man has embarked on a linguistic crusade to challenge the incorrect, but pervasive, use of the letter 'é' in 'Luberon'.
Sébastian Trousse, an engineer living in Cheval-Blanc, a rural district in the provencal Vaucluse department in the picturesque Luberon region, is fed up with people using the accented letter, instead of just 'e', he says. 
 
The name should be written and said as 'Luberon', with a very subtle 'e' sound, rather than the hard sound of the 'é'.
 
While foreign tourists and Parisians alike are partly to blame, Trousse says the mistake goes even further, with spell checks on computers mistakenly correcting 'Luberon' automatically to 'Lubéron'.
 
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The peaceful village of Loumarin in the Luberon part of Provence, southern France. AFP.
 
Born and raised in the strikingly beautiful area of vineyards, orchards, and "perched" hill-top villages, Trousse, aged 37, was at the end of his patience and decided to launch a petition to put a stop to the mistake, which has so far garnered around 500 signatures. 
 
"It might seem pointless but let's say it's close to my heart, like it is for lots of people in the Luberon," Trousse told French newspaper 20 Minutes. "It's like your child having an exotic name and having to spend all day correcting people."
 
"The first time, it makes you smile, the second time, it's a bit annoying, the third time, it gets on your nerves! It's like if we said, 'Parisse' (instead of 'Paris')!"
 
It was French classified website Le Bon Coin that eventually drove Trousse to create the petition. 
 
"People were writing 'Lubéron' and they told me it was to please potential buyers, Parisians or tourists," he said.
 
But why is the error so prolific? 
 
"I wanted to find that out too. That's part of the reason I started going down this path. I didn't understand why 100 percent of residents in the area say 'Luberon' compared to 100 percent of tourists who say 'Lubéron'," said Trousse.
 
"The reason behind the confusion is that the first tourists heard locals saying "Lubéroun" in Provençal (a local dialect) so the pronunciation has stuck. But in Provençal, we write it without an accent, it's just in that in the traditional pronunciation we say 'é'."
 
But Trousse is also challenging France's language authorities, including dictionary editors because it's normal for both variations to be included along with an explanation that the correct version is without the accent. 
 
"I'd like them to go further," he said. "I'm going to present them with a dossier with historical research, with maps, so that they completely remove the accent." 
 
British expats became particularly interested in the Luberon when Peter Mayle's book A Year in Provence hit the stands in 1989.
 
The best-selling book about Mayle's first year in Provence has been partially credited with the tourism boom in the area. 
 
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