The Null Device
The Académie Française, the guardians of the integrity of the French language, recently held a "festival of new words", a competition in which the public were invited to suggest new French words, with the Académie choosing winners; the results are in:
The winner was attachiant(e) – a combination of attachant (captivating, endearing) and the slang word chiant (bloody nuisance) to denote someone you cannot live with but cannot live without.
Someone had also come up with the verb textoter (to write SMS messages on a mobile telephone), presumably something last year's winner, a phonard – a pejorative term for someone who is glued to their mobile phone – does all the time.
Previous festivals have thrown up gems including ordinosore (ordinateur plus dinosaur, an out-of-date computer), bonjoir (bonjour plus bonsoir, a greeting to be said around midday), and photophoner (to take a photo with a mobile phone).Of course, whether the winners make it into the official draft of the French language is another matter; while the Académie may unilaterally coin indigenously French neologisms, getting people to use them is another matter. (The Académie's word for electronic mail, courriel, seems to have been unsuccessful, with the anglicism "e-mail" instead gaining currency.) Chances are this contest is intended more to promote experimentation with the expressive possibilities of the French language.