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Mon Dieu! A 'Hashtag' Is Now A 'Mot-Dièse' In France

The agency charged with finding French alternatives to foreign-language terms has put an end to the word "hashtag" in France.

From now on, reports Fast Company, the Générale de Terminologie et de Néologie has decided "mot-dièse" (that's MO-dee-YEZ for those of you who are not Francophiles) is the new hashtag.

Fast Company explains:

"While Twitter users in France won't be penalized for referring to hashtags, all official French government legislation and correspondence will be required to refer to mot-dièses instead of hashtags. Back in 2003, the same commission mandated French citizens refer to email as courriel with some success. Compared to other Western governments, France actively takes an interventionist approach to Internet use within the country: Various protectionist Internet laws have been proposed, including taxing Internet companies for data mining. All this is in addition to paternalist policies surrounding the French language to stop cross-cultural fusion like le hamburger."

The blog Death and Taxes dissects "mot-dièse." It literally means "sharp-word," referring to symbol used to designate a sharp note.

"However, the sharp symbol (♯) isn't the same as the hashtag symbol (#), which leans to the right instead of the sharp's left," Death and Taxes points out.

The Globe and Mail also takes its shot: "Cue the LOL," they write. "Oh pardon, MDR (mort de rire)."

h/t: NPR's Julia Bailey

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.