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XYZ Festival of New Words

The guardians of the French language, the Académie Française are no doubt concerned by the annual XYZ Festival of New Words which takes place in Le Havre each year. It's a celebration of neologism and is intended to provoke debate on the French language and bring it into the 21st century.

The winning new word for 2011 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.

It was followed closely by aigriculteur suggesting a farmer unhappy with his lot in life – as many are – by mixing the French word for farmer with aigri (embittered) and with just a hint of aïe! (French for ouch!).

A favourite that made this year's shortlist was bête seller, describing a particularly awful literary work that becomes an instant hit, and the timely eurogner – euro plus rogner (to cut down) – to suggest making savings in the euro zone.

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.

Now in it's tenth year, previous festivals have revealed gems including ordinosore (ordinateur plus dinosaur, an out-of-date computer), bonjoir (bonjour plus bonsoir, a greeting to be said around midday), and photophoner (to take a photo with a mobile phone).

Éric Donfu, a sociologist and expert in changes in contemporary society, who is the festival's founder and organiser, said the idea of the event is to breathe life into the French language. "This festival defends the idea, as expounded by Victor Hugo, that language is a living thing and dies if we don't invent words," he said.

Members of the public are invited to submit their ideas for neologisms and a shortlist is drawn up and presented to festival guests in Paris and Le Havre in the third week of November.