Tu and Twitter: End for ‘vous’ in French?

Updated 08 September 2012
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Tu and Twitter: End for ‘vous’ in French?

LONDON: The informal version of “you” in the French language — “tu” — seems to be taking over on social media, at the expense of the formal “vous,” according to the BBC. As in many countries, online modes of address in French are more relaxed than in face-to-face encounters. But will this have a permanent effect on the French language? Anthony Besson calls most people “vous.”
As a young man, it is a sign of respect to those older than him, and he’s often meeting new people through his work in PR in Paris. Yet this all changes on social media. “I always use ‘tu’ on Twitter,” Besson says. “And not just because it takes up fewer of the 140 characters!” Lots of other French people do exactly the same.
“Tu” is normally for family and friends, but when you’re communicating through @ symbols, joining networks and tweeting under a pseudonym, a formal “vous” can seem out of place, even to someone you’ve never met.
Antonio Casilli, professor of Digital Humanities at Telecom ParisTech engineering school, says the web has been used as a tool for breaking down social barriers from its very beginning, resulting in a distinctively “egalitarian political discourse.”
The pervasive pattern of speech on the Web in the 1990s, he says, was “cyber-utopian California-style libertarian discourse, inherited from 1960s counter-culture.”


Woman temporarily becomes millionaire after account mix-up

Bundles of banknotes of US Dollar are pictured at a currency exchange shop in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico January 15, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 20 July 2018
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Woman temporarily becomes millionaire after account mix-up

  • Fleming says the money was meant for a woman with the same name who lives in Florida

BOSTON: For a few minutes, a Boston woman says she was a millionaire.
Ellen Fleming says she received a voicemail from a TD Ameritrade financial consultant Wednesday afternoon that a deposit had been made into her account.
The 26-year-old opened the company’s app on her cellphone and was surprised to find $1.1 million instead of the $50 that she had left a few months ago.
Fleming tells The Boston Globe that she immediately thought about quitting her job and paying her student loans. Instead, she called the consultant back and informed them of the mix-up.
Fleming says the money was meant for a woman with the same name who lives in Florida.
She jokes that in her obituary she would like to be referred to as a “one-time millionaire.”