Destinations Magazine

Social Media and French: Nous Twitterons

By Stizzard

AURELIE FILIPPETTI, the French minister for culture, had to retract a tweet this week after making a glaring spelling mistake. As she is the official guardian of the French language, this was more than a bit embarrassing. Twitter’s spontaneity invites carelessness; and the minister duly blamed a sloppy aide. But for linguistic purists the incident touched on a far broader issue, concerning social media’s mangling of French and the accelerating invasion of franglais.The French have long used rules to defend their language from the creeping advance of English, particularly in advertising. By law, any brand’s English slogan, such as Nespresso’s “What else?”, must be translated with a subtitle (Quoi d’autre?). This produces comical results. Quick, a fast-food chain popular across France, introduced le French burger to its menu, helpfully translating it as le burger à la française. Advertisers merrily twist the rules, using a tiny font for the translation, or inventing logos in indigestible franglais. Very irrésistible is a perfume by Givenchy, a French luxury brand. Fashion magazines liberally sprinkle their texts with references to le must, le look or le street style.The spread of social media is battering…

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