France Bans Twitter Term 'Hashtag'; ‘Mot-Dièse' Is The New French Hashtag

By Binu Paul email: | Jan 28, 2013 06:36 AM EST

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In a bid to protect its national language, France has introduced a list of words and terms that the administrations demand should be avoided by public figures and teachers. Interestingly, the Twitter term 'hashtag' has been named as one of those terms that can allegedly undermine the country's 'linguistic purity.'

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Académie Française, the body responsible for maintaining the standards of French, decreed that henceforth the French word 'mot-dièse' to be used in reference to the symbol used to tag your micro-blogging posts as a 'hashtag.'

The decision was announced on the government-run Web site Journal Officiel and The Local reports that 'mot-dièse' literally means 'Sharp Word' which the French authorities define as a 'series of characters preceded by the # symbol.'

France's official language police, Commission Générale de Terminologie et de Néologie seeks to find French alternatives for anglicisms and the decision to replace hashtag came after the commission validated the choice of 'mot-dièse' as a replacement for the famous Twitter term.

The commission looks to encourage the presence of French language on social media networks and as part of its initiatives, many English words such as 'email', 'blog', 'chewing gum', 'weekend', 'take-away', 'supermodel', 'parking', and 'low-cost airline' are banned by the French officials.

However, according to a Daily Mail report, "critics swiftly pointed out that the two words are technically different, with the English hashtag symbol leaning to the right and denoting an abbreviation for 'number', equivalent to 'no'."

The French move is hardly unusual as it has a long history of aggressive approach in policing its language to prevent it from the invasion of English words. However, the decision to replace hashtag is viewed as an action with greater significance than just purifying the French language. The French government had directed the micro-blogging social media to identify the hands behind anti-Semitic, racist and homophobic tweets. It gave examples of offensive hashtags such as #UnBonJuif (a good Jew), #SiMaFilleRamèneUnNoir (if my daughter brings home a black guy) and #SiMonFilsEstGay (if my son is gay) that sparked outrage across the country. The government wants to book the authors of such tweets under the country's hate-speech laws.

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