French fight franglais with alternatives for English technology terms
As English has words for everything – including the latest technological terms – French speakers have decided to hit back by coming up with a few of their own. Metro investigates.
- 1st October, 2012
OMG. Oh mon dieu. An increasing number of linguists believe the French language is being put at risk due to an influx of English words. Their solution? Invent new ones.
Some of the world’s top linguists gathered recently in Quebec to discuss how the French language is increasingly becoming peppered with English words, with technology being cited as one of the main causes.
Words such as ‘tweet’ and ‘hashtag’ now form part of the French language and those who attended the French Language World Forum believe it’s high time French equivalents were invented.
These linguists claim English words are dominating digital and economic parlance and that the lack of French equivalents is putting the language at risk.
‘Borrowing too many words from English opens the door to a mishmash of French and English,’ said a spokesman for the Office Québécois de la Langue Française, which is responsible for promoting correct use of the French language.
‘This can have an impact on French word formation, phonetics and grammar, not just terminology.’
Experts at the OQLF believe it’s essential that French speakers have words which adequately express their thoughts and that this is crucial to keeping the language alive.
This is because French isn’t just spoken by the French. There are 220million speakers globally.
Recent studies have shown that French is the third most commonly used language not only on internet and social media networks but also in international trade.
It’s estimated that by 2050, Africa alone will account for 80 per cent of French-speakers and linguists claim that making the French language more effective is key to improving business links between Francophone countries.
While there’s an endless selection of English words which are internationally recognised, the same cannot be said for French.
In Quebec, there are many words which simply aren’t used or heard of outside of the region. The word ‘pourriel’, for example, which means ‘spam’ in Quebecoise French, is almost unheard of outside the city, and the same applies to ‘baladodiffusion’ for ‘podcast’ and ‘clavardage’ for ‘chat’.
Promoting these types of words within other French-speaking countries, say linguists, is key to the language’s survival.
One example is the word ‘mot-clic’, which has successfully been introduced by linguists as an alternative to ‘hashtag’.
‘There’s nothing French about the structure or pronunciation of a word like hashtag, which does not spontaneously mean anything to a French speaker,’ said the OQLF spokesman. ‘That’s why we have proposed the term mot-clic, which actually means something in French. After all, what does hashtag actually mean? It’s used to describe a word preceded by a hash sign. This symbol invites the reader to click on the following word to access more information on the topic in question, and the latter is exactly what mot-clic means.’
Carol Sanders, Emeritus Professor at the University of Surrey, believes that French’s versatility should not be underestimated.
‘In the domain of texting, French has shown itself particularly adaptable,’ she said. ‘Though briefly LOL was used, people now write MDR (mort de rire), and make maximum use of numbers, letters and symbols to text – CU becomes A+ (from à plus tard).’
The OQLF spokesman said: ‘Our goal isn’t to convert the whole world to French. The borrowing of foreign words will always be one of the ways in which languages expand. But we need to make sure that borrowing foreign words adds to a language instead of replacing existing words.’
Read more: http://www.metro.co.uk/news/newsfocus/913781-french-fight-franglais-with-alternatives-for-english-technology-terms#ixzz28MDMfYNz