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Vocab for the French Activist

12:04 PM

Spotted on the way to Paris VII. 
It's time for a vocabulary lesson! Last week, I joined a new international friend in attending a meeting of solidarity for a cause that shall not be named...and it fascinated me to hear new words for the terms I had come to know and use in my own activism back in New York City.

Should you wish to join "the revolution," whatever that means to you (disclaimer: highly unadvised by our program),  here are a few words you might want to know:

  • Un(e) militant(e) – An activist. My first day that I was chatting with my host family, I was trying to explain that I do environmental activism at Columbia & they used this word. I was like, non, non, I am not a "militant," I am an activist...but they were right. The words don't have the same connotation in the two languages.
  • Divestissement – Divestment! In case you don't know that word in English, it's when an organization or individual withdraws their investment of funds from a company/project to make a social & moral statement. Non-existent on Word Reference. ;)
  • La répression policiale – Kind of self-explanatory. See: Hong Kong right now
  • Un meeting – Oui. Did you get "le mail" about "le meeting"?!
  • La solidarité – #solidarity4ever
  • "La fac, elle est à nous" – The university, it belongs to us!
  • S'exprimer – to express yourself, as in, le droit de s'exprimer or the right to self-expression.
  • Une manif / une manifestation – a protest. 
  • And my favorite! Une sacrée belle manif – a damn beautiful protest. 
It's definitely interesting observing a fraction of activist culture in Paris both in the streets and in the university. I've seen some sort of strike or protest in the city at least once a week if not more (usually labor unions or something of the sort). The walls of Paris VII - Diderot are always plastered with wheatpasted posters about un meeting or another. Not so much at La Sorbonne, as far as I can tell, but I haven't even been to Paris IV, where they say it's very easy to have a protest or a blockade because the entrances to the school are very narrow!

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