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French Protest Words

The French have a long history of protesting, from the storming of the Bastille to the student protests of May 1968 to the gilets jaunes (yellow vests) movement today. Our latest video, from Le Monde, covers a strike on December 5, 2019 during which thousands of people across the country took to the streets to protest the pension reforms proposed by Prime Minister Édouard Philippe. As you can imagine, the video contains a lot of vocabulary related to protests, which we'll examine here. 

 

Un mouvement très suivi en France, et quelques tensions entre manifestants et forces de l'ordre.

A very well-attended action in France, and some tension between demonstrators and police.

Captions 1-2, Le Monde Grève du 5 décembre 2019 : les manifestations massives en images

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Un mouvement can be a social movement or protest movement (such as le mouvement des gilets jaunes), but it can also be a protest in its own right, or, as above, an "action."

 

Un mouvement wouldn't be un mouvement without des manifestants ("demonstrators" or "protesters"). Manifestant comes from une manifestation, which is the word for "protest" or "demonstration":

 

Les manifestations se sont déroulées dans environ soixante-dix villes.

Demonstrations took place in about seventy cities.

Captions 10-11, Le Monde Grève du 5 décembre 2019 : les manifestations massives en images

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But sometimes une manifestation is less political than a protest. It can just be an "event":

 

Cette manifestation attire des touristes du monde entier.

This event attracts tourists from around the entire world.

Caption 28, Le saviez-vous? Le carnaval en France

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Or simply an "expression" of something (this sense is the closest to "manifestation" in English):

 

Il y aura entrave à l'épanouissement affectif, à la manifestation des sentiments...

There will be obstacles to emotional fulfillment, to the expression of feelings...

Captions 4-5, Le Mans TV Horoscope: Scorpion

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However, the slang term une manif specifically refers to a protest. We have a whole Yabla series centered around this word: Manif du Mois (Protest of the Month). 

 

But let's get back to the December 5 protest, which, like many protests in France, was launched by des syndicats (unions): 

 

Le mouvement a été lancé par des syndicats...

The action was started by unions...

Caption 15, Le Monde Grève du 5 décembre 2019 : les manifestations massives en images

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The syndicats didn't just call for un mouvement, but une grève:

 

L'appel à la grève n'a pas souffert du froid hivernal.

The call to strike didn't suffer from the winter cold.

Caption 7, Le Monde Grève du 5 décembre 2019 : les manifestations massives en images

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Some of the protests turned violent, which prompted the Prime Minister, in his response, to make a distinction between les manifestants and les casseurs—the rioters, or literally, "the breakers" (from casser, "to break"):

 

Y a eu quelques villes où on a constaté des débordements souvent liés à la présence de casseurs qui ne venaient pas pour manifester.

There were a few cities where we observed some violent outbreaks, often linked to the presence of rioters who didn't come to protest.

Captions 30-33, Le Monde Grève du 5 décembre 2019 : les manifestations massives en images

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Un débordement is "a flood" or "an overflowing," but its figurative meaning is more violent: "an outbreak," "outburst," or, when plural (des débordements), any kind of wild or uncontrolled behavior. 

 

For more videos featuring demonstrations and protests, do a search for manifestation or manif on Yabla French. 
 

Vocabulary

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