Skip to main content

Twitter logo The micro-blogging website unveiled an altered version of the bird icon on Wednesday; New Larry is a deeper color blue, with three feathers instead of four as well as a more upward flight trajectory. He seems more serious than Old Larry.

While "hamburger" has been welcomed into the official French language, it seems the word "hashtag" isn't getting the same treatment.

On Wednesday, the Commission Générale de Terminologie et de Néologie in France voted in favour of the hyphenated "mot-dièse" as its replacement.

Let's all practise this together now: MO-dee-EZ.

The literal translation of "mot-dièse" is sharp word, the "sharp" being a reference to the musical symbol. But as the online culture magazine Death and Taxes points out, the sharp leans left while the hashtag symbol leans right.

In other words, it's not entirely accurate.

The Local, a website that publishes French news in English, collected various sarcastic reactions to the decision. Some joked on Twitter that Facebook would be next, with "Livre des facies" as a possible alternative.

Cue the LOL. Oh pardon, MDR (mort de rire).

This is not the first time a francophone organization has grappled with English neologisms. The Office Québécois de la Langue Française seems particularly adamant that there are French equivalents for common new media words.

But often, these words have gained little traction and carry no meaning outside Quebec. This article cites some examples: "pourriel" for spam, "baladodiffusion" as a substitute for podcast and "clavardage" in place of chat.

In some ways, France has proven more lax on language fluidity. Where the Québécois term for cranberry is "canneberge", the French have never heard the word and say cranberry – with a cute accent.

Words such as "netbook", "goji", "biopic" and "acerola" have all entered into the newest 2013 edition of Le Petit Robert dictionary.

Yet for some reason, the French commission drew the line at "hashtag." There's nothing stopping people from using it in conversation, of course; but when referenced officially as, say, in government documents, mot-dièse goes into effect immediately.

And so, as the hashtag ends its sojourn in France, we bid it #adieu.