French confusion on proper pronunciation of the "@"

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by medea, Dec 10, 2002.

  1. medea macrumors 68030


    Aug 4, 2002
    Madison, Wi
    Tue December 10, 2002 10:31 AM ET
    PARIS (Reuters) - French is such a rich language that it now has, by state decree, two words for "@" -- the "at" sign that has become a worldwide symbol for the Internet -- but only one official way to pronounce it.

    A special commission struggling to defend French against the spread of English in cyberspace has decided that the popular e-mail sign can be named either "arobase" or "arrobe."

    But the august commission, which failed a few years ago to impose the name "jeunes pousses" ("young sprouts") for Internet start-up companies, decreed that the French should only call it "arrobe" when they give out their e-mail addresses. The problem is that most people say "arobase" -- the traditional French name for the "at" sign -- and have never heard of the old Spanish measure of weight "arroba" that the commission used to create its new term.

    "Nobody uses arrobe," lexicographer Christine Ouvrard told the daily Liberation after the decree was published in the Official Journal Sunday. "The bureaucracy may issue its decrees, but in dictionaries, we reflect how people use words."

    The same decree concerning the "at" sign also advised the French to say "le site" instead of "le site web" to describe a Web site.

    Even if these new terms never catch on, France's ever-active linguistic guardians have not worked completely in vain.

    They have successfully fought off other English terms, imposing "ordinateur" for computer, "logiciel" for software and "informatique" for computer science.
  2. dricci macrumors 6502a

    Dec 15, 2001
  3. Rower_CPU Moderator emeritus


    Oct 5, 2001
    San Diego, CA
    l'Académie Française is a very strange animal...

    It's understandable that they try to preserve their culture, but this one is just silly...
  4. gairloch macrumors newbie

    Sep 4, 2002

    I think it is absolutely wonderful. Globalization has started to change many cultures. It has created a sort of melting pot, if you will. It is important to keep parts of culture that are heritage and that help people form an identity. Language is one of these parts.

    Sometimes it is appropriate to use a foreign word, but generally I am all for expressing a new concept in my own language.

    Perhaps dictating the way in which language should be used is not appropriate, but there is a need strengthen culture through language.
  5. medea thread starter macrumors 68030


    Aug 4, 2002
    Madison, Wi
    Re: Wonderful!

    I have to agree with gairloch here, language is key to culture and the English language has crept (or is it creeped? creept?) into other languages to the point that their goverments feel the need to step in, I posted a similar article about Russia a while back....This time the subject might seem a little silly though. And we do use a lot of foreign words in our English vocab as well and no one ever seems to have an issue with it over here, but then again we are americans and ,well never mind I dont want to go there....
  6. peter2002 macrumors 6502

    Aug 1, 2002
    Dallas, TX
    Great news!

    I'm glad the French figured that one out.

    Now, if the French could just solve their problems with rudeness, anti-semitism, under-arm hair, retreating from wars we have to finish, and infrequent bathing, they truly would be great.

    Peter :D
  7. jayscheuerle macrumors 68020


    Simply Brilliant Idea!

    How about we, when naming things with worldwide applications, just give them a nonsense word that can be phoenetically spelled by any language, kind of like the way names are handled?

    They'd be much harder to remember without language specific hints built into the words...

    Like any idea that tries to appease many, it's weak! :D
  8. Mr. Anderson Moderator emeritus

    Mr. Anderson

    Nov 1, 2001
    So in France is Apple called La Pomme? And a power mac would be Le Mac de Puissance? Ha!

    Anyway, its good to keep your culture, I'm totally for it, but they really should avoid making too much of a mess of it.

    Now, I can't wait for the new upgrades for les Livre Titane de Puissance.....;)

  9. LethalWolfe macrumors G3


    Jan 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    I understand where they are coming from, but what a waste in time, money, and energy.

  10. pantagruel macrumors regular

    Oct 29, 2002
    here and there
    I still dont understand why if they were to use the french word for "at" it would take away from their culture, its still french right? I mean if I created a new invention or something would they have to give some new french name? maybe Im ignorant though.:rolleyes:

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