Français et les médias sociaux

The one problem, if there is one, with being a language expert is that everybody expects you to be flawless in your own execution of the language. Unfortunately this is something that official guardian of the French language Aurelie Filippetti found out recently after making a spelling mistake in a tweet, which was rapidly deleted and blamed on an aide. However, the really interesting issue here is the way the French, who are famously protective over their language, treat language use in social media.

For a nation very proud of their language, social media must seem like a real threat to the French. The 140 character limit poses a dilemma for the French, who are forced to pepper their tweets with abbreviations such as C (c’est) and koi (quoi), much like an English abbreviation might be U (you) or IDK (I don’t know).

On top of this, social media has brought with it a whole host of neologisms which must be forced into the French language, creating interesting Franglais hybrids. In France, you will be ‘followé’ by people wanting to read your tweets, borrowing from the social media-ese term ‘follower’. It is interesting that the accented é demonstrates the fact that the term has very much been claimed and adapted to conform to the French standard.

It is interesting to think about the way social media might interact with the way we learn other languages. If we spend some time reading the social media posts of those speaking our language of interest, we might find ourselves initially flummoxed by the slang and abbreviations found particularly on Twitter, but could it lead to a more native-like production of the language if we learn to use it in the playful, casual way used by native speakers?

As social media becomes more and more important in our everyday lives, how long will it be before ‘guardians’ of other languages admit defeat and allow the terms widely used by the popular social media platforms to be adopted verbatim? Or will these terms be resisted forever?

Find out more about the effect of social media on the French language here>>

Learn to speak French here>>

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