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Textopornographie: France creates its own word for 'sexting'

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 The French government adds new words in an effort to protect the language from creeping English neologisms. (iStock) The French government's top authority on language has once again expanded the country's lexicon with the unveiling of a brand new word: Textopornographie.

The English equivalent of "sexting," textopornographie refers to the sexually explicit digital messages sent between lovers (or those who hope to become lovers) via smartphone. These messages are also sometimes referred to colloquially by the French as "sextos."

A list of new terms released by L'Académie française's General Commission on Terminology and Word Invention (La Commission Générale de Terminologie et de Néologisme) earlier this month also includes "accord prénuptial" (prenuptial agreement,) "surtransposition" (gold plating,) "vote nu" (empty voting) and "vidéoagression" (happy slapping,) a British word for the controversial American knockout game.

France decided to add new words to its dictionary this month in an effort to protect the language from creeping English neologisms, as it has been doing for centuries.

The 40-member government body controlling French grammar, usage and vocabulary was founded in 1635 according to Motherboard. Members of the Académie continue to wear a Napoleonic costume that dates back to this time, complete with a sword and bicorne hat.

Many have criticized the organization as France's "language police," but its work is surprisingly effective according to linguists -- especially in the realm of technology, which is where English terms tend to bleed over most.

"In the domain of texting, French has shown itself particularly adaptable," said University of Surrey professor Carol Sanders to Metro last year. "Though briefly LOL was used, people now write MDR (mort de rire), and make maximum use of numbers, letters and symbols to text -- CU becomes A+ (from à plus tard)."

Other terms that have been changed by the Académie in recent years include "courriel" (from email,) "baladeur" (from Walkman) and most recently, "mot-diese" (from hashtag.)

Canada's own Office Québécois de la Langue Française has also participated in the word-changing process, coining "baladodiffusion" to use instead of podcast, "clavardage" instead of chat, and "pourriel" instead of spam.

No word yet on whether the French are developing a new term for Oxford Dictionary word of the year "selfie," but 2013 isn't over yet.


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