One of the things I like best about teaching is that my students keep me rooted in the here and now. This is especially true when it comes to social media. I would never have set up this blog if I hadn’t had students blog for an assignment. Facebook allows me to keep in touch with graduates. Last year, a student asked me what “hashtag” was in French. I was only vaguely aware of what a hashtag was and even less how to use one.
If you’re not a Millennial, you may not know that a hashtag is the number symbol followed by a word , or group of words, on a social media site, such as Twitter, that allows topics to be tracked and joined by others. For example, #paris is a way to organize, read, and join in on all the conversations about Paris that are floating out there.
The answer to my student’s question, how to say hashtag in French, isn’t entirely straightforward. There’s the official answer and then some commonly used variations. Last year, le Journal Officiel declared that un mot-dièse (uhn moe deeez) was the way to go. Un dièse is the common name in France for the number sign on your phone, referred to in English as the “pound key.”
Unofficially, however, French people often say un hashtag. I follow Garance Doré’s blog in French, partly because I often learn a new word each day. She even uses the (non-existent) verb hashtaguer. I predict that un hashtag will win and the more complicated un mot-dièse will go the same place that un baladeur went before un Walkman flattened it.
If you follow this blog regularly, you’ll know that I’m heading off to Paris in a few days where I’ll have the pleasure to spend most of the summer. I thought this would be an opportune time to jump into two other social media platforms: Instagram and Twitter. My Instagram address is ONEQUALITYTHEFINEST, and here I’ll be posting photos of the best of what I see, like the ones on today’s post. My Twitter address is 1QUALTHEFINEST, and here I’ll post information about articles I read, videos I see, or other tidbits that don’t warrant a full blog post or should be shared without delay. Why not follow me on one or both and see what I get up to as I practice the art of the hashtag?
Now, if only I could figure out how to text.