French language police ditch ‘fake news’ for new Gallic term

One of Donald Trump’s favourite expressions - “fake news” - has finally been give its official French translation by the country’s language police. But it is far from certain that the new French term will catch on.

French language police ditch 'fake news' for new Gallic term
French protestors accuse President Emmanuel Macron of spreading fake news. Photo: AFP

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.

Thanksfully for those who find information fallacieuse a bit of a mouthful the Commission for the Enrichment of the French Language (CELF)  coined the new expression, infox.

Infox – is a combination of infos – an abbreviation of informations which means news – and intox which means disinformation or hoax.

News of the new word was published on Thursday in the French government's official gazette, the Journal Officiel.

The anglo-saxon expression 'fake news', which refers to a range of behaviour 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 “Commission d’enrichissement de la Langue Française” (Commission for the Enrichment of the French Language) works alongside the more famous Académie Française.

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One of its roles is to invent French words to replace the countless English ones that are currently being used by French speakers and which horrify language purists.

The commission came up with “infox” after months of deliberation, according to media reports. Other options considered but finally rejected included “craque”, “infaux”, and “infausse”.

But the jury will be out for some time as to whether “infox” will make it into the mainstream.

Some recommendations from the Académie Française to replace anglicisms have met with modest success, such as the word “courriel” to replace email.

But many others have met with derision and are rarely if ever heard or seen.

One recent word that met with much scorn was its suggestion that the French ought to stop saying “smartphone” and instead use “mobile multifonction.”

It has also recommended “l’accès sans fil à internet” for “wifi”, another unwieldy proposal that saw little success.

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Member comments

  1. All the people I know use the term “fake news” and will continue to do so. It’s about time this back-wood thinking department was disbanded. Language is always evolving, which is more then can be said about these dinosaurs.

  2. I love the French language, it’s romantic. And when a French person speaks English in their accent, it’s so beautiful to hear. French people do not have to fear the English language, which is also a beautiful, expressive language. It’s not a problem if the words “fake news” are used. Come on guys, why be so old fashioned?

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