Saturday, January 26, 2013

France says 'non' to use of the word 'hashtag'

Quite a few English words are used in other countries instead of native alternatives, but on Thursday, France said "non" to the use of the term "hashtag."

Instead, following a decision from the Commission Générale de Terminologie et de Néologisme, which seeks to enrich the French language by finding native alternatives for anglicisms, France has "barred" the use of "hashtag" in favor of a new Twitter term, "mot-dièse."

The banning of the use has no legal repercussions for French citizens; they will not be required to use mot-dièse, but the government will user the replacement term on all official documents and encourage its use in social media.

Discussion of the new term became, what else, a Twitter trend among French users, who called the new term "awful" and "much less stylish" (than hashtag).

In addition and to be clear, "mot-diese" means sharp-word. Sharp-eyed (and snarky) Twitter users were quick to point out that France had made a mistake by using "mot-dièse," since it is technically incorrect. The word "dièse" denotes the sharp sign (♯), rather than the right-leaning hashtag symbol (#).

Still the change to "mot-dièse" is part of an ongoing push to preserve the French language online and in the social media realm, where many terms originate in English, and carry over to other languages. Things have gone so far that in 2012, linguists gathered in Quebec to discuss how technology has caused the integration of more English words into the French language.

A spokesman for the Office Québécois de la Langue Française said,
Borrowing too many words from English opens the door to a mishmash of French and English. This can have an impact on French word formation, phonetics and grammar, not just terminology.

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