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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French Word of the day: faux cul

If you've been watching any political debates you're likely to have come across this one, and you may have already guessed that it's is not a compliment...

French Word of the day: faux cul
Photo: Depositphotos
Why might I want to know faux cul?
 
Last night on TF1, a shouting match erupted between Rassemblement National (RN) candidate Gilbert Collard and former ecologist, MEP and May '68 student leader Daniel Cohn-Bendit. Collard called Cohn-Bendit a faux-cul (pronounced “foh kue”) de la politique. But what exactly was Collard accusing him of?
 
What does it mean?
 
The words faux cul, sometimes written faux-cul, actually mean “false bottom”, or maybe “false ass”, given that cul is the vulgar French word for one’s backside. Originally, faux cul described an apparatus worn under the dress by 19th century women (sometimes called a “bustle” in English), often along with a corset, in an attempt to emphasize their curves.
 
 
Because of the use of the faux cul to misrepresent one’s appearance, it soon became a synonym for “hypocrite”, “phony” or “two-faced”. As in, 
 
Ce faux cul, il nous dit qu’il faut beaucoup travailler, mail il ne fait jamais rien.
“That hypocrite, he tells us that you have to work hard, but he never does anything.”
 
Elle m’avait dit précisément le contraire. Quel faux cul !
“She told me exactly the opposite. What a phony!”
 
So, when Collard called Cohn-Bendit a faux cul de la politique, or ‘political phony’, he was alluding to Cohn-Bendit’s past support for Emmanuel Macron and La République en Marche. Since there was already an LREM representative on the program, and Daniel Cohn-Bendit was there in a theoretically neutral position, Gilbert Collard apparently judged the situation to be unfair, and Cohn-Bendit’s presence – and his person – to be misleading.
 
 
Alternatives
 
There’s really no nice way to call someone a phony or hypocrite, but slightly less vulgar terms that mean the same thing include faux derche (“fake butt”) or faux jeton (“fake token”). Or you can get straight to the point and use hypocrite, which needs no translation.
 

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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French Word of the Day: Rodéo

In France, this word has nothing to do with cowboys.

French Word of the Day: Rodéo

Why do I need to know rodéo ?

Because they are becoming more common in certain parts of France, so you’ll likely hear about them, but if you’re expecting cowboys the you’re likely to be disappointed. 

What does it mean?

Rodéo – roughly pronounced roe-day-oh – is a French word that is formally defined as the assembling or herding of a group of young animals. 

This is probably the definition you are most familiar with, or perhaps you associate the word with the American and Mexican sporting events that involve large arenas and activities like lassoing young cows, riding bulls or broncos, or attempting to restrain a steer.

However, in practice, the more common French usage of the word “rodéo” would be one that is more correctly defined as a “rodéo urbain.”

These are illegal street races that take place either between motorcycles or cars on public roads, sometimes also known as a rodéo sauvage – unlicenced race.

Les rodéos have become a focus of French law enforcement in recent years, due to the increasing popularity of these races in working-class neighbourhoods across the country. Punishable by one year’s imprisonment and a fine of up to 15,000, the French government instituted new laws to “reinforce the fight against rodéos” in 2018.

They are particularly controversial due to their loudness and for how dangerous they are, and they’re also the subject of an award-winning French film called simply Rodeo (using the English spelling), in which the director used real rodéo riders to perform the stunts.

Use it like this

Le jeune homme de 19 ans a été interpellé après un rodéo urbain. – The 19-year-old young man was arrested after an illegal street race. 

Il y a quelques semaines, le ministre de l’Intérieur a mobilisé les forces de l’ordre afin d’enrayer des rodéos en France. – A few weeks ago, the Minister of the Interior mobilised law enforcement forces to curb the rise of illegal street racing in France.

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