babel-french legacy compatibility broken

Stefan Löffler st.loeffler at gmail.com
Sat Feb 22 08:11:31 CET 2020

Hi,

I am maintaining a document that should be typeset-able with both old
and new versions of TL. As it uses French in some places, I am using
babel with the "frenchb" option (which is deprecated and should
eventually be replaced by "french", but this would break typesetting on
older systems). Unfortunately, this gives an error now (I'm not sure how
long the situation has been like this as changes to my document a fairly
infrequent).

Here's a MWE:
---------------------8<--------------------------------

\documentclass{minimal}

\usepackage[frenchb]{babel}

\begin{document}

Bonjour le monde.

\end{document}

---------------------8<-------------------------------- Which gives the
following error:

(/usr/local/texlive/2019/texmf-dist/tex/generic/babel-french/frenchb.ldf

! Undefined control sequence.

l.30 \chardef\l at frenchb\l at french

The same problem occurs if I use the (also deprecated) option "francais"

If I change \chardef to \let on the indicated line, everything seems to
work as expected - but I'm not sure if that's the correct solution (and
what side-effects it might have). If it is, it should also be applied
(at least) to the "francais" case.

The problem occurs with both pdflatex and lualatex (I haven't checked
others).

Some possibly relevant versions:

babel: 3.40)

babel-french: 3.5g

pdfTeX 3.14159265-2.6-1.40.20

luatex: 1.10.0

HTH,

Stefan

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