Smartphone is a term which is now largely universally understood as an aspect which differentiates a product from a dumb phone - a device which is severely lacking in features by comparison. Nowadays, the use of smart has become significantly more widespread as the term has migrated to most other product areas thanks to the influx of home automation and the smart home in general. To the point where most people now even talk about the future of smart cities. However, while the term smart is becoming a universally accepted term in most regions, it seems France is less happy with adopting the smartphone status quo as other countries.
As the Enrichment Commission for the French Language has now opted to forgo the use of smartphones to denote devices that are smarter than other phones. Instead, the Commission has advised the use of “mobile multifonction” or as it directly translates into English - multifunction mobile. As a result of this ruling, it is expected the new term will be used more often within France and specifically when it comes to Government-related literature which will be now required to use le mobile multifonction when referencing the smartphone.
While this might seem like a strange move or an unnecessary complication, it is in keeping with the purpose of the Commission in general. As this is an entity which has specifically been set up to keep the French language as French as possible. Which also means keeping words that do not originate from a French basis from becoming part of the official language used within the country - even if it is commonly used by people in France already. For example, smartphones are not the only casualty listed in this latest ruling as another telecoms-related term ‘fiber optics’ has fallen foul of the Commission. Going forward this will be officially referred to as “fibronique.” Likewise, telecoms companies often talk about the backbone of a network although going forward in France those same companies will refer to the “réseau dorsal.” Other French-based translations noted in the ruling include scam calls as “appel-piège”, Net Neutrality as “neutralité de l'internet”, and the Internet of Things (IoT) as “internet des objets (IDO).”