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Monday, 04 February 2013 11:36

French ban hashtags

Written by Nick Farrell



Nasty roast beef eating words


Desperate to prove that it is still a significant force, the French have decided to make the Internet speak their language. The French Ministry of Culture, which has the job of keeping the language “pure” has decided purify the social notworking site Twitter of that nasty Roast Beef eating language “English.”

The General Delegation for the French Language, which is the Ministry’s experts on language purity, has announced that, from now on, Twitter ‘hashtags’ should be referred to as  ‘‘mots-diese’’. While this sounds to us like something infectious you catch from a particularly nasty over-ripe cheese, the word will be compulsory so French readers will have to get used to it. According to AP, it is the latest attempt by the French to de-Anglicise the internet. Who could forget such monumental French victories on this front.  In 2002 websites were renamed ‘‘sites’’ and in 2003 French people were ordered to call e-mail ‘‘courriel.’’  The word was only used in Quebec and Belgium but largely ignored by the French.

In 2005 blogs were dubbed ‘‘bloc-notes’’, in 2006 podcasting  was named ‘‘diffusion pour baladeur’’.  The last go  was in 2010 cloud computing was literally translated as ‘‘informatique en nuage’’ which is so catchy, no one bothered using it. It is on a hiding to nowhere.  Despite the best efforts of The General Delegation for the French Language, most French still prefer the sound of some English words.   Phrases like ‘‘deadline’’, ‘‘le week-end’’, ‘‘fashionista’’, ‘‘buzz’’, ‘‘burn-out’’,  ‘‘best-of’’, ‘‘prime time’’ and many others have crept into common use.

And the news magazine Le Point predicted that ‘‘mot-diese’’ would be ‘‘another word which risks a rapid death’’ along with phrases like “French defence”. Although we take the Nintendo a bit, the Committee’s work is fairly important.  It has stops dreadful accidents entering the French language. Take for example the computer term ‘‘megabyte’’ and the word “byte’ means ‘cock’ in French. Not many people want a computer memory measured in big cocks even in a nation with a chicken as its mascot.

Nick Farrell

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