Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Government

France Says 'Au Revoir' to the Word 'Smartphone' (smithsonianmag.com) 344

Hoping to prevent English tech vocabulary from entering the French language, officials have suggested 'mobile multifunction' as an alternative. An anonymous reader shares a report: The official journal of the French Republic, the Journal officiel, has suggested "internet clandestin" instead of dark net. It's dubbed a casual gamer "joueur occasionnel" for messieurs and "joueuse occasionnelle" for mesdames. To replace hashtag, it's selected "mot-diese." Now, as the Local reports, the latest word to get the official boot in France is smartphone. It's time to say bonjour to the "le mobile multifonction." The recommendation was put forth by the Commission d'enrichissement de la langue francaise, which works in conjunction with the Academie Francaise to preserve the French language. This isn't the first time that the commission has tried to encourage French citizens to switch over to a Franco-friendly word for "smartphone." Previous suggestions included "ordiphone" (from "ordinateur," the French word for computer) and "terminal de poche" (or pocket terminal). These, it seems, did not quite stick.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

France Says 'Au Revoir' to the Word 'Smartphone'

Comments Filter:
  • UTF8 (Score:5, Funny)

    by dmbasso ( 1052166 ) on Tuesday January 16, 2018 @04:53PM (#55941209)

    which works in conjunction with the Academie FranÃaise to preserve the need of UTF8

    ftfy

    • by TWX ( 665546 )

      Which becomes an even funnier comment when even extended ASCII code page 437 isn't fully supported on Slashdot.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I've been on /. for many years and I've never heard of such an acronym as "UTF8", and neither have the site maintainers for /.

  • Whatever (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I remember when they tried to push back against "cheeseburger", McDonalds in Québec had to write "hambourgeois au fromage". It didn't stick for long. It's called "hamburger au fromage" in the correct form now, but we still call it a freakin' cheeseburger.

    • Did you go into a Burger King?

    • Are they still calling it PFK?

      (KFC to the rest of us)

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      They call it a Royale with Cheese!

    • Re:Whatever (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Rei ( 128717 ) on Tuesday January 16, 2018 @05:26PM (#55941491) Homepage

      I don't know why France gets so much credit for linguistic preservation. Seriously, it's 2018 and they're just now getting around to formalizing a French word for smartphone? And like usual, I imagine few people will use the new word.

      When telephones came out, Icelandic quickly adopted the word "sími", resurrecting an old word for "thread". Cell phones came out, and they became "farsímar". Smartphones came out, and they quickly became "snjallsímar". I mean, it doesn't happen immediately. People were calling tablets "tablets" at first, but when it came out that the proper word was "spjaldtölva", people switched over pretty quickly. Tölva (computer), by the way, comes from "tala" (number) plus "völva" (prophetess). :)

      A fun experiment is to go to Wikipedia and enter a bunch of random science terms in different science fields - preferably ones not named after a person or whatnot (which tends to carry over between *any* language) - and for each one, look at the in-other-languages sidebar to see what the word is in other languages. Because as a general rule, in almost every language the terms very strongly resemble the English.... except Icelandic. You know, you look up photon, and it's a bunch of entries like "photon", "foton", "fotona", "futun", etc, etc.... then you get to Icelandic, and it's "ljóseind". ;) It's "tyrannosaurus", "tiranozaurus", "turanosaurus", etc, etc.... then Icelandic, "grameðla". But it's actually quite useful. For example, in some members of my family there's a condition called ankylosing spondylitis. Unless you're a doctor who's familiar with the field, or someone in your family has it, odds are you have no clue what that is. But in Icelandic, it's "hryggigt" - that's "hryggur" (spine) + "gigt" (arthritis). Anyone can see that term and immediately have a rough idea of what the primary symptoms are like (the spine slowly fuses, among other things).

      That's not like Icelandic is "pure" or anything. "Hæ" is essentially embedded in the language, for example. "Basically" is pretty much becoming that way. Etc,. But at least in general, people try. And for most - not all, but most - new science/tech terms, the Icelandic terms stick.

  • by WillAffleckUW ( 858324 ) on Tuesday January 16, 2018 @04:57PM (#55941243) Homepage Journal

    C'est le meilleur choix

  • by Excelcia ( 906188 ) <kfitzner@excelcia.ca> on Tuesday January 16, 2018 @05:03PM (#55941283) Homepage Journal

    I used to think, being a Canadian, that it was just the Quebec francophones with the hyperactive inferiority complex which manifested like that. In Quebec they are anal about signage to the point of there being ordinances outlining the maximum size of English print on your store front in order to preserve their language (which I won't actually insult France enough to call French and will just call "Quebecois"). They were so adamant about it they had to use a special constitutional opt-out Canadian provinces have called the notwithstanding clause to make it legal notwithstanding a person's right to freedom of expression.

    Now I realize this is just endemic to all French everywhere.

    • by TWX ( 665546 ) on Tuesday January 16, 2018 @05:07PM (#55941325)

      But it does make for an amusing plot-point when the cop stops the truck with the spraypainted expressions on it to cite the dual-language law and help them spraypaint the truck with french translations...

      • The Francophone version of the graffiti scene from "Monty Python's Life of Brian"?

        --
        "People called Romanes, they go to the house?"

    • Not quite. The Belgians and Swiss can't even count properly.

    • I used to think, being a Canadian, that it was just the Quebec francophones with the hyperactive inferiority complex which manifested like that.

      I was going to ask how Academie Francaise is different from Real Academia Española.

      In Quebec they are anal about signage to the point of there being ordinances outlining the maximum size of English print on your store front in order to preserve their language (which I won't actually insult France enough to call French and will just call "Quebecois"). They were so adamant about it they had to use a special constitutional opt-out Canadian provinces have called the notwithstanding clause to make it legal notwithstanding a person's right to freedom of expression.

      Except I cannot think of any place where Spanish is spoken that they get this pedantic about it, except maybe in academic circles.

    • Eurorail (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      My wife spent a summer living in Germany with her family. They took the Eurorail to Paris for a couple of days. On the way, all announcements were made in English, Spanish, French and German. Until they got to France, where it switched to ONLY French, even though the train was continuing on to Spain.

      At some point it gets petty.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Now imagine, if you lived in the only English province/state within a country whose primary language wasn't English and everyone from outside your province/state just call for English to disappear. Wouldn't you want to protect your culture and language?
      This is the thing that English folks today don't seems to get, they can't put themselves in the shoes of others due to how prevalent English is in the world now. Saying ignorant things like "well if they need to do this to protect the culture of the Language,

      • We're talking about the French being protective in this article, not the Québecois.
        Not the French people but their crusty old language institutions. The people themselves realize that French for French's sake is total bollocks.

    • The issue is hardly unique to French. Most languages have a language regulator [wikipedia.org] defining official usage of the language, with English being a notable exception. Language academies worldwide have tended to try to fight back to tide of anglicism in their languages by providing similar lists of local linguistic equivalent words. I've seen similar lists for Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, and even Latin.

      Portuguese, Spanish, Italian and other languages also have suggested equivalent words to "smartphone" but you'd

      • English doesn't have a regulator because, "The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and riffle their pockets for new vocabulary."

        English borrowed a huge amount of vocabulary from French over the past thousand years. We are now giving some of it back.

    • As a french, I always thought Quebecois are much better than french when it comes to find good translations. "pourriel" is great french for SPAM for example, and it fits in single word. There are many examples like that. Obviously, when translating movie title "trainspotting" into "ferrovipathes", some might think it goes beyond reasonable limits :P "mobile multifunction" is a really poor wording anyway ; nobody would and will use that.

      • by La Gris ( 531858 )

        "mobile multifunction" is a really poor wording anyway ; nobody would and will use that.

        It is not worse than "voiture automobile" (car) that was shortened to "voiture" once the other types of cars became marginal.

        I have no doubt that "mobile multifunction" will just be called "mobile" as it has been the case since long enough to be an adopted and understood short-name. Also because as non-smart mobile phones or dumb phones are becoming marginals, maybe we will just choose a more generic short-name like "téléphone" (phone).

    • by starless ( 60879 )

      According to my French significant other, the Quebecois are much worse than the French regarding this.
      And, unlike Quebec, I don't think there are any legal restrictions in France on the use of English on signs etc.

  • by JoeDuncan ( 874519 ) on Tuesday January 16, 2018 @05:03PM (#55941289)
    ...they don't even have a word for "entrepreneur"
  • wordy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Moblaster ( 521614 ) on Tuesday January 16, 2018 @05:05PM (#55941299)

    i don't speak French but even I can figure out that's a big mealy mouthful... hard for six or seven syllables to come up with two... couldn't they even compromise with a more streamlined "multifonc" ?

    • Re:wordy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TWX ( 665546 ) on Tuesday January 16, 2018 @05:09PM (#55941351)

      This isn't the first time they've had this sort of problem. What is funny though, is that we're almost to the point where there's no reason to use "smartphone" anymore since nearly all mobile phones are this type. It's like there's no need to refer to your new TV as a flatscreen TV, because all new TVs are flatscreen TVs. If they'd made this ruling about a decade ago it would make sense, but now, not so much.

      • by mysidia ( 191772 )

        Also..... the Phone/VOICE function is not used that often these days. Perhaps they should just start calling them "Pocket tablets"

        • Also..... the Phone/VOICE function is not used that often these days.

          So what are they used for? They have much fewer keys than the talk-only phones of yore, so obviously they are not used for typing text.

      • It's like there's no need to refer to your new TV as a flatscreen TV, because all new TVs are flatscreen TVs.

        Except that the hot new thing is the curved screen. [amazon.com]

    • i don't speak French but even I can figure out that's a big mealy mouthful... hard for six or seven syllables to come up with two...

      First rule of speaking French: get bored and trail off halfway through each word. No one says six or seven syllables. In practice, you'll get two on a regular basis and three if it's your waiter sneering at your bad accent.

    • by c ( 8461 )

      i don't speak French but even I can figure out that's a big mealy mouthful

      Yeah, that's how you know it's a proper French word.

      I'm not entirely kidding. In my experience French expressions tend to average around 1.5 times longer than the English equivalent.

  • I believe it's the only language which has a government-supported commission to decide what new words are needed. The result, as with any other bureaucratic organization is that the language is a lot less flexible than English, and adapts much more slowly to changes.

    IMO, that lack of flexibility is the reason that English has become humanity's lingua franca.

    • you are wrong. Spanish has the same (Academia Real) and I am sure many other languages have a central authority
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

  • Also in the news (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Tuesday January 16, 2018 @05:08PM (#55941331)

    French IT specialist complained about not being able to find jobs abroad. International companies we asked cited "a lack of knowledge of fundamental IT terms they even know in third world countries" as a reason.

    • Ya know, it makes me wonder what an alternate world would look like where a system of measurements that was just as good as metric, but wasn't metric, was the dominant one for trade and commerce between nations. Would the French still be insisting on using metric, despite the rest of the world standardizing on the other system? With them being as proud of the French language as they are, I can't help but think that they would.

      • They mostly adopted it because they invented it, I'd say.

  • These devices haven't been "phones" for a long time. The "Phone" is but one app on my mobile computer. I like how in The Expanse they just call them "hand terminals." Mobile device or mobile computer works just as well. Let's just remove "phone" from the vocabulary, please?

  • Aren't they cute tho? I think French people are adorable with their sweet language and yummy foods and fetching fashions too! Everyone should own a French person. Or two in Utah.

    But really, there is an aura around France and French things that doesn't exist elsewhere (Brasil is close). It makes economic sense to protect, preserve, promote that aura just as it makes sense for Germany and the US to put some things behind them. If they want a 'pure' language, they're welcome to try and many people do appreciat

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 16, 2018 @05:21PM (#55941457)

    They can get back at us for "French Fries".

    • by mjwx ( 966435 )

      They can get back at us for "French Fries".

      That is why every toilet is known as the American standard.

  • by TomR teh Pirate ( 1554037 ) on Tuesday January 16, 2018 @05:24PM (#55941477)
    This sort of French language and cultural identity protection has been going on for years. I remember once talking to a colleague from Quebec about this. He told me that he had initially been reticent about the idea of moving to the US because there is a sense among the Quebecers that the rest of us English-speaking Americans are out to destroy their cultural heritage. At the time of the conversation he had already been in the US for several years and so I asked him, "well, what is your assessment of American culture trying to destroy French culture?" His response boiled down to, "most of you don't even know who we are. We've been paranoid about nothing."
    • by MeNeXT ( 200840 )

      The true reason is that it is used as a means to control the population by a group considering themselves elite. They pander to the uneducated and the disenfranchised.

      Language is just one aspect of a culture and no matter what it will change. The French spoken today is not the French spoken 50 years ago. Further back you go more evident the change. The French spoken in Quebec is different from that spoken in France. There are regions in Quebec where the French spoken is very different form the rest of the p

  • by QuietLagoon ( 813062 ) on Tuesday January 16, 2018 @05:35PM (#55941577)
    ... a Tracking and Data Harvesting Device.
  • I thought that was just supposed to emerge naturally by what people agreed upon. Colloquialisms become official language.

  • I wonder how successful it will be this time. At least courriel had the benefit of not increasing the syllable count.

    https://www.wired.com/2003/07/... [wired.com]

  • Certainly that would be translated as "crasseux occasionnel".

  • Now, as the Local reports, the latest word to get the official boot in France is smartphone. It's time to say bonjour to the "le mobile multifonction."

    Oh phew, that'll keep those pesky English words out...HEY WAIT A MINUTE

  • by johannesg ( 664142 ) on Tuesday January 16, 2018 @06:13PM (#55941875)

    The "dark net", in its original definition, was a part of the internet that was unobservable, because it existed behind passwords, or because it was simply not indexed in search engines. The phrase "internet clandestin" immediately tags a big "illegal!" tag on the whole thing.

    Also, "internet" is kind of a funny choice. How about "réseau reliant les ordinateurs à l'échelle mondiale"?

  • by mentil ( 1748130 ) on Tuesday January 16, 2018 @06:23PM (#55941949)

    When I was in college, my English professor insisted that the official bodies which have vise-like control over the French language will inadvertently make it a dead language by the end of this century.

  • Do you think they can be any more rude?
  • All the suggested words & phrases need to have at least 65% more letters that aren't pronounced.
  • Ordiphone, noun: Just a regular, ordinary phone.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    NO ONE cares about the "Académie Française".

    I can't remember a suggestion they did that did stick, whereas all the stupid "Cédérom", "Dévédérom", "mél" are NEVER used by the people actually using the language every day (It is possible some TV shows/commercials try to stick on that, but no one cares). There's no reason "internet clandestin", "joueur occasionnel", "mot-diese", or "mobile multifonction" will fare better than the previous failures.

    The Académie Fran

  • Obl. (Score:5, Funny)

    by bgarcia ( 33222 ) on Tuesday January 16, 2018 @08:26PM (#55942735) Homepage Journal
    French: ... Sixty-seven, sixty-eight, sixty-nine, sixty-ten...
    Other languages: **stares**
    French: **stares back**
    French: ...sixty-eleven, sixty-twelve, sixty-thirteen...
    French: ...sixty-sixteen, sixty-ten-seven...
    Other languages: *shutting eyes*
    French: ..sixty-ten-eight, sixty-ten-nine...
    Other languages: *hands over face*
    French: ...four twenties! :) Four twenties one...
  • The French are like that. In case you haven't noticed, they have a few other unusual habits. To many cultures, so do we (speaking as a native English North American). They also don't give a damn who they offend, or why.

    They are sensitive to English (mostly) words, that they would probably say are "polluting" their language.

    It's not something anyone who isn't a native French speaker needs to concern themselves with; so any comment in an English speaking forum, really, is irrelevant.

    They have this history wit

  • The idea is not that bad, but as usual it comes too late, years after everyone got used to "smartphone". It will probably not go further than "jeune pousse" for startup.
  • The Academie is one of the reasons that written French is diverging from spoken French.

    I'm not sure that is a good thing either..

    Schools also largely have to stick to a fairly conservative language curriculum.

    Learning French is a many step process, with written forms that are essentially never spoken, and spoken forms that may be written, but largely aren't.

    Yet for all this, I'm not sure what they hold on to by doing it? The French are French. They should have no fear of ever not being.

  • by PMuse ( 320639 ) on Wednesday January 17, 2018 @11:00AM (#55945629)

    It seems quaint, doesn't it? A central authority trying prohibit a language from evolving by pronouncing the occasional fatwa against a loan word, a foreign coinage, etc. However, there's a good argument that such a preservation effort will be needed far more over the next 100 years than it was over the last ~400.

    Alors, au cours du présent siècle où le monde se rétrécit chaque jour, je souhaite la meilleure des chances à l'Académie Francaise.

    They're gonna need it.

Adding features does not necessarily increase functionality -- it just makes the manuals thicker.

Working...