Latest French Revolution on American Words Is a Brilliant Ban of 'Hashtag'

Rebecca Greenfield

Following its snobbish tradition of doing away with longstanding Internet-related terminology, the French government is replacing "hashtag" with "mot-diese" — to which we say... bravo!

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The Academie Francaise, an authority that dictates word usage from government workers to school teachers, has voted the new word (pronounced mo-dee-yez) into law. French followers of Twitter memes aren't exactly buying it — it's not that catchy, the AP notes — but it's not the first time France's diction police have gone after the American-based digital vocabulary. In 2003, the country's official Culture Ministry tried to ditch "email" for "courriel," before a 2009 quest to do away with "cloud computing." France has also tried, rather unsuccessfully, to stop people from saying "weekend."

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But we'll say vive la révolution to any movement seeking to rid part of the world of "hashtag," a word so overused on this side of the pond that a couple appears to have used it to name their baby.  Sadly, the American word authorities aren't aligned with the French in the least. After four years of existence and many years of abuse, "hashtag" got dubbed 2012's word of the year by the American Dialect Society. An inside linguistics source told us that the society can be "ridiculously out of touch with actual innovative words" because "it's mad old people." So, if we want state-side change, a Yankee revolt might have to come from the people. Who's with us?

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