There was an article in the Metro newspaper last week that got me thinking about the words we use in everyday life and on the web.
Apparently, worried about their language under threat, the Quebecan department in charge of protecting their language recently had a get together where they invented words to try and get French speakers not to use common, international (English) words.
Funny in itself, but so much better when you consider that English is peppered with French terms and we’re not too threatened by it.
Looking at the suggested words, it makes me think they were right to get seriously knowledgeable people together and create better terms. Our internet terminology is dominated by misappropriation and poor usage of proprietary technology or brand names.
For example. we’ve been using clickable words that pull related articles and create themes for ages; tag clouds, saved searches, etc. but Twitter uses the term hashtag and now that’s become the name for this – even if there’s no # tag in the link! The new French word for this is “mot-clic” a click-word, elegant, simple and accurate.
Podcast is another perfect example – a conjoined word of iPod and broadcast, this means that whatever system you are using for your pre-recorded audio broadcast you have to refer to it using the Apple name, which obviously pulls up the first thoughts of the apple distribution channel – iTunes. The French term “balladodifusion” the generic term for a portable music device and broadcast – so similar but without the limitations.
From a language point of view the evolution process means far too many eponyms and ugly words but even worse than that, it puts the shaping of our language into the wrong hands.
There’s another concern of course and that’s technological, now that all clickable words are ‘hashtags’ does that mean as designers we all start having to have #ugly #sentences #thatarehardtoread breaking up our text?
Do all audio broadcasts have to use Apple? It runs the risk of directing the thought process of innovators – surely never a good thing.
Digital Director, Sequel