French Lessons


Just Kidding!

The verb se moquer is used in two recent videos, in two slightly different senses:


Et il n'est pas le seul à se moquer.

And he's not the only one making fun.

Caption 40, d'Art d'Art - "Impression, soleil levant" - Monet

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Non mais tu te moques de moi?

No but are you kidding me?

Caption 61, Le Jour où tout a basculé - Ma fille et mon mari se sont fait berner

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Se moquer means to make or poke fun, or to kid. If it takes an object, as in the second example, you have to add de after it (to make fun of someone). It's cognate with "to mock" in English, and can also have that sense, depending on context: 


Se moquer gentiment de personnages célèbres est très courant

Gently mocking famous people is very common

pendant la période de carnaval.

during the carnival period.

Caption 20, Le saviez-vous? - Le carnaval en France

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But se moquer has another meaning that isn't quite as obvious. It's the verb you use when you don't care about something, or more precisely, when you couldn't care less:


Je me moque des règles. 

I couldn't care less about the rules.


In more informal speech, se ficher is often used instead of se moquer in most of its senses:


On se fiche de nous ou quoi?

Are you kidding us or what?

Caption 5, Actus Quartier - Devant la SNCF

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Je me fiche des règles.

I couldn't care less about the rules.


Another way of saying "to make/poke fun" is taquiner (to tease):


Ne taquine pas ta sœur.

Don't tease your sister.


There are a few other verbs for "to kid" in French. If you want to say "I'm kidding" or "just kidding," use plaisanter or rigoler:


Je plaisante, pas du tout.

I'm kidding, not at all.

Caption 22, Elisa et Mashal - Mon chien Roméo

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Je ne ferai pas l'idiote. Non, je rigole.

I will not act like an idiot. No, I'm kidding.

Caption 52, Margaux et Manon - Conjugaison du verbe faire

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Rigoler is an informal synonym of rire (to laugh). So you can think of je rigole as "I'm just having a laugh." Plaisanter, the verb form of une plaisanterie (a joke), means "to joke" or "joke around." So je plaisante is more along the lines of "I'm just joking around."


If you want to say "you're kidding," as an exclamation, you can say, Tu plaisantes! Or, you can even just say, Tu parles! (literally, "You're talking!")


Tu parles. Impôts?

You're kidding. Taxes?

Caption 37, Patricia - Pas de crédit dans le monde des clones

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And for the phrase "no kidding," you can use the phrase sans blague (no joke). For more on that and other joke-related expressions, see our lesson Telling Jokes in French.



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 then 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,

A very well-attended action in France,

et quelques tensions entre manifestants et forces de l'ordre.

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,

There will be obstacles to emotional fulfillment,

à la manifestation des sentiments...

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

There were a few cities

où on a constaté des débordements

where we observed some violent outbreaks,

souvent liés à la présence de casseurs

often linked to the presence of rioters

qui ne venaient pas pour manifester.

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. 


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