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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French Word of the Day: Tracter

Yes it's a vehicle for farmers, but it's also so much more than that.

French Word of the Day: Tracter
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know tracter? 

Because it is a particularly useful word to know during election season, as well as if you want to work in the agriculture industry. 

What does it mean? 

Tracter, pronounced track-tay, has multiple meanings. 

The first is to pull, haul, tow or drag something along with a tractor (un tracteur) or another mechanical vehicle.

Pensez toujours à prendre un tracteur suffisamment puissant pour tracter vos matériels – Always make sure to bring a sufficiently powerful tractor to haul your material 

Cette moto n’est pas prévue pour tracter une remorque – This motorbike is not designed to tow a trailer 

The second meaning, which is often used around elections, is to distribute leaflets or tracts in favour of a candidate or political party. 

Les militants politiques ont le droit de tracter – Political activists have the right to distribute flyers

J’ai tracté pour un candidat pendant la campagne – I distributed leaflets for a candidate during the campaign 

The verb tracter comes from the noun, tractage, which describes the act of distributing political or even commercial promotion material – in English leafleting or flyering.

Tracts, or short pieces of writing designed to promote a political or religious agenda, pre-date the invention of the printing press and were mentioned by scholars as early as the 7th century.

In France, municipal authorities have the power to ban tractage in certain parts of town

The law states that address and name of the person responsible for printing leaflets must be detailed on tracts. In the mid-90s, a new rule was introduced requiring all promotional material to be written in French. Foreign terms can only be used if a French translation is also provided. 

Other election material vocabulary 

There are plenty of words to talk about flyers with which you could be tracté by someone on the street: circulaires, dépliants, prospectus, tracts, imprimés, feuillets or brochures

An election poster is une affiche électorale

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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French phrase of the Day: Ne me prends pas pour un lapin de six semaines

Being patronised by a Frenchman? Roll out this phrase.

French phrase of the Day: Ne me prends pas pour un lapin de six semaines

Why do I need to know ne me prends pas pour un lapin de six semaines?

Because someone might be trying to take you for a fool.

What does it mean?

Ne me prends pas pour un lapin de six semaines – pronounced ne me pren pah pour un lapan de see sem-enn – translates as ‘don’t take me for a six-week-old rabbit’, and is a go-to phrase to warn people not to mistake you for a fool, someone who doesn’t understand what’s going on.

The podcast Hit West from French regional newspaper Ouest-France suggests that the ‘six weeks’ comes from the age a rabbit is weaned at, and must therefore be ready to survive on its own.

And why a rabbit at all? Well no-one really seems very sure. Rabbits don’t get a good rap in the French language though, to stand someone up is poser un lapin in French.

English-language metaphor equivalents may be, “I didn’t come down in the last shower”, “I wasn’t born yesterday”, or, as Line of Duty’s DCI Hastings might say, “I didn’t float up the Lagan in a bubble”.

Use it like this

Honestly, keep it simple. If someone’s speaking to you in a patronising manner, simply say: Ne me prends pas pour un lapin de six semaines.

Ouest France suggests that this is the ‘more elegant’ way to request that people don’t take you for a fool. It’s not offensive, but it might be a little old-fashioned. 

Alternatives

You can use the more basic version of this phrase – Ne me prends pas pour une idiote (don’t take me for a fool) or the slightly more punchy Ne me prends pas pour un con (don’t take me for a moron).

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