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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French Word of the Day: Soixante-huitard

About one in five people of a certain French generation can be described using this term.

French Word of the Day: Soixante-huitard
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know soixante-huitard?

Because it references a very important part of French history and culture.

What does it mean?

Soixante-huitard – pronounced swah-sahnt wheat arr – literally means sixty-eighter. While its translation might sound a bit like a sports team (ex. Forty-niners),  this term in French has an important political and social context behind it. 

A soixante-huitard is someone who participated in the famous May 1968 protests in France. With the backdrop of the Prague Spring and the American Civil Rights Movement and anti-war protests, French students and striking workers demanded a more egalitarian world in May 1968. 

This period of civil unrest lasted seven weeks and even forced then-President Charles de Gaulle to temporarily flee to West Germany. The events of this time have had a profound effect on French culture and politics. 

Around 11 million people – 22 percent of the population at the time – was involved in some way or another, and these days, those people are referred to as un soixante-huitard or une soixante-huitarde (for a woman). 

Though the term is typically reserved to refer to those actually involved in the protest movement, it can occasionally be used as a way to describe someone who has held onto the far-left ideas or sentiments from the 1968 movement.

Use it like this

Il a gardé ses convictions d’extrême-gauche longtemps après 1968. C’est un vrai soixante-huitard. – He held onto his far-left beliefs long after 1968. He is a true sixty-eighter. 

Tu pourrais être surpris que ta tante ait une soixante-huitarde. Ses opinions ont certainement changé avec le temps. Tu ne l’aurais jamais deviné ! – You might be surprised that your aunt participated in May 68. Her opinions have really changed with time, you would never have guessed it.

Member comments

  1. Speaking as a 68’er myself I have to remind people that this is something entirely different to ‘un soixant-neufist(e)’.

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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French Word of the Day: Poêle

The season of the poêle is approaching.

French Word of the Day: Poêle

Why do I need to know poêle ?

Because you might be confused why your friends said they plan to heat their home using a frying pan this winter.

What does it mean?

Poêle – roughly pronounced pwahl – translates exactly to “stove” and is also often used in a shortened form of poêle à frire (frying pan).

But that’s not why people suddenly start talking about them as the temperatures fall, as a poêle is also an alternative heating method.

In English, we would call these log-burners or wood (or pellet) burning stoves. There are two different types – un poêle à bois (wood-burner) or un poêle à granulés (pellet-burner).

These can be used as an extra heater or simply as a nice focal point in the living room, but certain types of poêle can also be linked up to the main heating system or water-heating system, so have a more practical application.

Some people also use the hot surface of the poêle to boil a kettle on or to cook on, although they’re usually used as a supplement to an electric or gas stove. 

Amid France’s discussion surrounding energy shortages and the price of electricity and gas, les poêles have been more frequently referenced.

Be careful not to confuse this word with ‘poils’ which is the French word for animal fur, but is pronounced very similarly, or even à poil which is a colloquial word for being naked.

Use it like this

J’ai installé un poêle à bois dans ma maison. Le processus a pris beaucoup de temps, mais j’ai pu bénéficier de certaines aides gouvernementales. – I installed a wood-burning stove in my home. The process took a long time, but I was able to benefit from some government subsidies.

Elle a chauffé sa maison avec le poêle tout l’hiver pour éviter d’utiliser l’électricité. – She heated her home using the wood-burner all winter to avoid using electricity.

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