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I know that both facade and façade are valid in British English. Is that also true for American English? Or should facade be used when writing something for American customers?

This is something that gets used in a Luminaire catalog, and I just stumbled over the French ç in the American version.

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2  
M-W lists both variants -- both are valid. –  z7sg Ѫ Nov 9 '11 at 16:56

4 Answers 4

up vote 4 down vote accepted

According to Google ngrams, "facade" is far more popular than "façade". So I would just write "facade" unless you want to emphasize the "Frenchness" for stylistic or marketing reasons.

ngram comparison showing facade as far more popular

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While I agree, it is important to note that those results are generated by computer scanning, which is likely to understand "ç" as "c", which is exactly what happened in this case: books.google.com/… (and probably many others) –  Jim Nov 9 '11 at 14:26
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Note: "façade" appears in ~1M titles according to google books. –  Unreason Nov 9 '11 at 14:40
    
@Jim: It's true, there will be lots of cases of bad OCR. But I tried searching the Corpus of Contemporary American English and it had zero hits for "façade" so I just went with ngrams. –  Mr. Shiny and New 安宇 Nov 9 '11 at 16:40

The cedilla (ç) beneath the letter ‘c’ is used in French to show that it is to be pronounced as /s/ and not as /k/. Most French people will know that anyway, so it is as otiose in French as it certainly is in English. Since facade is now an English word as much as it is a French one, there’s no need to follow French practice.

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It's no more or less otiose than the other French diacritical marks. Certainly the first time I read the word I wasn't sure how to pronounce it so the cedilla would have helped. –  z7sg Ѫ Nov 9 '11 at 15:25
    
It's often difficult to know how to pronounce any new word, with or without diacritics. The answer is available in most dictionaries. Where a French word has not become completely anglicized, then it may be usual to retain the accents, as in, for example, 'dénouement'. The only fully anglicized French word I can think in which the accent is shown more often than not is 'café'. –  Barrie England Nov 9 '11 at 16:11
    
You are making unsubstantiated claims about usage. –  z7sg Ѫ Nov 9 '11 at 17:01
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cafe > café –  Hugo Nov 9 '11 at 17:39
    
Alternatively, 'kaff'. –  Barrie England Nov 10 '11 at 8:00

The cedilla helps, imo. Just reading the replies above made me think... hmm... "facade"... hmm, is that faKade? a secret move in fencing?

then I looked for examples that would leave us wondering whether the sound should be "ss" or "k". Thought of "percutant", French for "percussive". The plain "c" indicates the need to pronounce correctly: "perKutant". And no need to know the word or be familiar with a word to pronounce it correctly. No faKade, no perSSutant, all is fine.

Note: I put in two "s" in examples because in French, one "s" only inside a word is often if not most of the time pronounced as /z/ : crise (crisis) pronounced with "z" sound. Bise (greeting kiss) same thing. Mise (placing) same again.

sorry for butting in, these are thoughts that occurred to me as I was passing by. This site was useful, I have bookmarked it. :-) A native French-speaker who also loves English.

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Yes, much as people still spell café with an accent. Cafe without the accent just isn´t the same. We all know, French or otherwise, that that last e must be stressed because the accent is there. Otherwise we would just say caff or caif.

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