French linguists want ‘information fallacieuse’ instead of ‘fake news’

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Defenders of the French language on Thursday pleaded with people to stop using the English term “fake news”, recommending they refer to “information fallacieuse” instead.

The Commission for the Enrichment of the French Language (CELF) also proffered a newly coined expression, “infox”, for those who find “information fallacieuse” a bit of a mouthful.

“The anglo-saxon expression ‘fake news’, which refers to a range of behavior contributing to the misinformation of the public, has rapidly prospered in French,” the commission lamented.

“This is an occasion to draw on the resources of the language to find French equivalents.”

The encroachment of English expressions is a regular topic of debate in France, where young people in particular often sprinkle their conversations with English turns of phrase.

The new French terms for fake news should be used to refer to “information that is false or deliberately biased”, the CELF said in a recommendation published in the government gazette.

This would include falsehoods intended to “advance a political party to the detriment of another, to damage the information of a person or company, or to contradict an established scientific truth”.

The suggested new short-hand, “infox”, is a portmanteau of “information” and “intoxication”.

The committee also backed other equivalent terms such as “nouvelle fausse”, “fausse nouvelle” and “information fausse”- anything but “fake news”.

Set up in 1996, the CELF is a committee of academics and cultural figures who volunteer to suggest ways to improve the French language.

It has so far made more than 7,900 suggestions, including French replacements for the English expressions “binge drinking” (beuverie express), hashtag (mot-diese) and big data (“megadonnees”).

The committee works alongside the better-known Academie Francaise, a four-century-old institution whose job is to defend the purity of the French language.

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