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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: 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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