Au Revoir Le Hashtag

The French have a famous aversion to the Anglicisation of their language. But such is the pervading influence of the Internet and global terms which surround it that sometimes drastic action is called for.

So it is with hashtag, that vital little addition with which all Twitter users are of course familiar. The term hashtag has started being used by the French twitterati, meaning that the arbiters of all things lexical and French have been forced to step in.

So from now on, French Twitterers are expected to refer to “mot-dièse” meaning “sharp word” whenever they wish to preface anything with an #. Like that’s going to work, and by all accounts, the move has already a received a Twitter thumbs down, especially as a musical sharp, as denoted by the new term, is not the same symbol as a hashtag.

So while France’s Commission Générale de Terminologie et de Néologie decides which popular online term to unsuccessfully target next, we are left to ponder whether this is a seminal moment for French. If the efforts of language officials do not manage to mandate what the correct word should be for the language in this case, will French continue to be a tongue which is limited and proscribed in terms of its vocabulary or will it start to take on a more English identity and be allowed to grow in a more natural way? Je ne sais pas.

4 thoughts on “Au Revoir Le Hashtag


    Come on, Hugh. You’ve shown an aversion to neologisms yourself (viz. Brexit, dryathon, etc.). Is it the excessive cuteness of blend words rather than an invasion of foreign words that bothers you? I think the hashtag should be called “une étiquette d’hachis.”

    1. Hugh Westbrook

      Most of my aversions are subjective about the words themselves, and not about their right to exist. I don’t like all the words I feature, but love the fact that English does not dictate which words are allowed to belong to the lexicon. So I am objecting to the concept of limiting the vocabulary.

  2. Pingback: Sexting Given French Twist | Wordability

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