There isn't really a word yet in French for cyberspace. But however they describe it, the French don't want it dominated by English.
A group of French ministers is meeting this week in Bordeaux, France, to try and determine how to enforce the use of French in cyberspace.
Netscape is doing its part. The company released a French--as well as German and Japanese--version of its Navigator 2.0 browser Friday. The browsers are available from the company's Web site.
La Francophonie, a club that represents roughly 400 million French-speakers in 49 countries, wants to make sure that English doesn't dominate the Internet and other online services. This week's two-day meeting of French ministers and other government officials is following up on a loose set of resolutions adopted last December.
So far, the group has decided to open a Web site to promote its cause and to provide a central site to provide French-speaking African countries with information about cyberspace and other communication technology.
The drive against the English-language domination of the Net is part of a more general campaign on the part of the French government to prevent English from dominating all popular culture.
The Body Shop this month became the first company to be prosecuted under a new French law that requires all retailers to sell products with bilingual labels. The Body Shop representatives said the company will comply with the law but that the offending English-only bottles were old inventory still on the shelves.
French law also controls the amount of English-language songs and movies that can be presented on French radio and television stations and has outlawed the on-air use of many popular Franglais terms--English words adopted by French speakers such as le weekend.