Hashtag Among The Many English Words Banned By French Officials
January 27, 2013

Sacrebleu! France Bans The Term ‘Hashtag’

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

Attention Twitter users living in and around Paris, Marseille, and Nice: the government officials in charge of inventing French-language replacements for foreign-language words would like you to stop referring to the symbol used to tag your microblogging posts as a “hashtag.”

Rather, the Commission Générale de Terminologie et de Néologie (CSTIC) would like social networking users to start referring to it as a “mot-dièse” (in English, “sharp word”) instead, according to Neal Ungerleider of Fast Company.

In fact, they are requiring all official government legislation and correspondence to refer to the symbol as a “mot-dièse,” though regular Twitter users will face no penalties if they continue to refer to is as a “hashtag,” he added. Of course, that doesn´t mean that the CSTIC isn´t doing everything they can to eliminate the old term.

“Teachers have been told to urge schoolchildren to use the term [mot-dièse], and the media has also been asked to avoid using the English word,” the Daily Mail reported.

“Pronounced ℠Mo-Dee-YEZ´, it doesn´t exactly trip off the tongue. But that´s not the point. French law requires that government agencies use French terms — and teachers are required to spread the word,” the Associated Press (AP) added. “New words are approved by the Academie Francaise and written into the lawbooks.”

There are a couple of issues with the new terminology, however. For one thing, as Chris Davies of Slashgear points out, the phrase mot-dièse actually refers to the sharp sign (♯), not the numerical sign (#) that leans to the right, which is what is actually used to mark topics or keywords on Twitter.

Another potential problem, as has already been pointed out by Twitter users and the Daily Mail, is that the term mot-dièse itself cannot be used as a hashtag in tweets, because it contains a hyphen.

Nonetheless, it remains one of several English-language terms banned by French officials this week, with others including 'email', 'blog', 'supermodel', 'take-away', 'chewing gum', 'parking', 'weekend' and 'low-cost airline,´ the UK newspaper said.

“It turns out that the rise of social media and various other technologies have resulted in the subsequent rise in the use of English slang words in foreign languages,” Davies said.

“A spokesman for the Office Québécois de la Langue Française said that ℠borrowing too many words from English opens the door to a mishmash of French and English.´ This could possibly have an impact on French phonetics and grammar, and not just terminology,” he added.