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France turns nose up at sexting (the word, that is)

The French language is constantly assaulted by English tech phrases. So its most revered cultural body finds a French way of saying things.

2 min read
No sexting tonight, Josephine? PBS screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

The English language is invading the world even more than the English ever did.

Native tongues find themselves at the mercy of phrases invented by nerds and donated to humanity.

The French, however, have always tried to defend their culture. They take it seriously -- so seriously, indeed, that their Ministers of Culture usually have a knowledge of their departmental subject matter.

It's no surprise, therefore, that France's Academie Francaise -- the nation's last line of linguistic defense -- has turned its disapproving eye on sexting.

No, not the practice. Just the word itself.

As the Associated Press reports, it has decreed that the French term for this practice is "textopornographie."

I am concerned that the Academie hasn't studied the complete picture on this one.

Perhaps I'm being liberal in equating the word "pornographie" with pornography. But it strikes me that there is nothing at all pornographic about, for example, one lover sending another a naked shower snap or, perhaps, a photograph taken at 7 a.m., just as the lover is experiencing a nude awakening.

With this choice of word, France is squeezing itself into a curiously puritanical bodice. One might expect this of, say, America.

But surely the French know better. They always say that they do.

In the past, France has enjoyed an excellent record in creating new French words for dull English ones. You might have once thought you had a Walkman. The French, though, insisted you had a baladeur.

Textopornographie is, sadly, lowering so many people to the status of pornographer whereas, in fact, many sexters are merely trying to raise their lives above the level of ennui.

Surely even "sextotexto" would have sounded a touch more romantic.