An official French body tries to fend off anglicisms with French alternatives. For cloud computing, it recommends informatique en nuage. A hashtag, used on Twitter with the symbol #, should be mot-dièse. In reality such gimmicks rarely catch on. Hooked on Twitter, but aghast at the mangling of French, Bernard Pivot, a 78-year-old literary critic and unofficial guardian of the language, has published a book of his own perfectly crafted tweets, all of which respect the language of Molière. Twitter need not corrupt the language, he argues; instead it imposes valuable reflection and concision. Indeed, as Mr Pivot points out, the first article of the 1789 Declaration of Human and Civic Rights contains 136 characters—the perfect length for a tweet.
From the print edition: Europe