/set rant_mode on

A digit is a numeral from 0 to 9 – so the French translation is “un chiffre”. Surprisingly, I find myself having to add that the French translation of “a digit” is not “un doigt” – you may use your fingers for counting, but in the end it is all about numbers not body parts.

Therefore the proper translation of “digital” in French is “numérique” – the French word “digital” describes something related to fingers. A digital device may be finger operated, but its digital nature is related to binary processing… The presence of a keyboard is accessory.

Increasingly, I find my compatriots using “digital” to qualify anything run by computing devices without having to mention them by name – because computers, data processing, electronics and such drab technicalities are uncool compared to the glittering glitz of mass-marketable trinkets. I resent this lamentable technophobic trend but, if you want to indulge in such decadence, please at least use the proper French word.

From now on you’ll know that any French person caught saying “digital” instead of “numérique” spectacularly exposes his ignorance – you know who they are and you are welcome to anonymously report them in this article’s comments (with links to incriminating tweets for bonus ignominy).

I obviously don’t mind people using English. I don’t even mind loan words – they are part of how a language evolves. But I do object to mindless namespace pollution: using loan words does not exempt from semantic coherence.

Call me pedant if you want, but if you attempt to degrade our essential communication tools you’ll find me on your path and I’ll be angry !