‘Say mot-dièse not hashtag’

The French government’s latest effort to counter anglicisms is thought to be unlikely to catch on

24 January 2013

THE French government has caused amusement on the internet by insisting the proper term for “hashtag” in French should be mot-dièse.

Hashtags are words starting with a hash symbol, for example: #hashtag They are used notably by Twitter users to make messages containing certain key terms easily searchable. They have also become a fad, often used for no particular reason on various social media to highlight opinions or states of mind.

Mot-dièse literally means “sharp-word”, as in the musical term. In fact, however, some people have now pointed out, the left-leaning sharp symbol (♯) is not identical to the hash (#) which is technically called un croisillon. What is more people who use it are already familiar with the English term and are unlikely to change.

The recommendation came from the Commission Générale de Terminologie et de Néologisme which aims to suggest more French-looking alternatives to anglicisms.
Previous efforts were trying to get people to say le mercatique instead of marketing, or courriel instead of e-mail.

On its site for the public France Terme it is currently reccomending, along with mot-dièse such terms as la bonne heure for “happy hour”, taxe d’expatriation for “exit tax” and furtivité for “stealth” (in military contexts).

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