World News

France Snubs ‘Hashtag’

January 24, 2013

While there may be many English words commonly used in the French language, “hashtag” will no longer be one of them.

Following a decision from the Commission Générale de Terminologie et de Néologisme, which seeks to enrich the language by finding French alternatives for anglicisms, France has moved to bar the use of “hashtag” in favor of a new Twitter term, “mot-dièse,” the Connexion reports.

On Wednesday, France announced its decision to scrap the word on the government-run website Journal Officiel, the Local reports. Though French citizens will not be required to use mot-dièse, the government will utilize the replacement term on all official documents and encourage its use in social media.

News of the change to “mot-dièse” — “sharp-word” — spread quickly among French Twitter users as many criticized and mocked the new term, calling it “awful” and “much less stylish.”

However, as many Twitter users were quick the point out, using “mot-dièse” to signify a hashtag is technically incorrect since the word “dièse” denotes the sharp sign (♯), rather than the right-leaning hashtag symbol (#).

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 English terms reign supreme.

In 2012, linguists gathered in Quebec to discuss how technology is enabling the integration of more and more English words into the French language.

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

Twitter hashtags have drawn much criticism from the French government after offensive hashtags, such as #UnBonJuif (“#AGoodJew”), sparked outrage across the country. The French government is seeking to fight the publication of such anti-semitic and racist tweets within its borders under hate-speech laws.

(h/t Death and Taxes)

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