The French Commission Générale de Terminologie et de Néologisme, a group whose aim is to enrich the language by proposing French substitutes for Anglicism’s, has called on the country’s Twitter users to use the new term ‘mot-dièse’ instead of ‘hashtag’!
This week, France announced their decision to scrap ‘hashtag’ and go with ‘mot-dièse’ on the government website Journal Officiel. Though there is no law preventing French citizens from continuing to use ‘hashtag’, however the government has said that it will begin using the alternative term on all official documents and is encouraging its use across social media.
News of this proposed change spread rapidly through France’s Twitter users; many were outwardly critical of the replacement term and mocked the decision. Some described is as “awful” and “much less stylish.” Others pointed out that it was technically inaccurate because “dièse” indicates the sharp sign (♯), not the right-leaning hashtag symbol (#).
The move to introduce ‘mot dièse’ (which translates to “sharp word”) is part of continued efforts to protect the French language online and in social media – where numerous English terms have supremacy.
Last year, linguists met in Quebec to consider the impact technology has on allowing the frequent integration of English words into the French language.
A spokesperson from the conference 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.”
From my experience, government attempts to introduce new terms and words don’t always work out as planned. Much of the time people will just ignore these guidelines and proposals and continue to use the term/word they are used to.
I speak Turkish Cypriot, which is a complete bastardization of Turkish, Greek Cypriot, English, French and many other languages. Often official attempts to bring the language in line with the “official Turkish” spoken in Turkey fail, because people are happy enough using the words they have always used!
Can you see ‘mot-dièse’ catching on, or do you think French Twitter users will carry on using good old ‘hashtag’?