Saturday, August 9, 2014


Here is the latest update to our essay “Fou-faraw in France”.   [Explication de texte:  “Fou-faraw” is a blend of foofaraw, a word familiar in your grandpa’s day, and meaning ‘confused uproar’, and French fou ‘crazy’ (its etymon is related to our word folly.)]

For further politico-philological French delicacies, try these:


For the totality of our linguistic essays (not necessarily political) about French, try these:

For the whole of our political posts (not necessarily linguistic) about France, here you go:


As mentioned, in French media-speak, des jeunes is code for ‘misbehaving Maghrebis’ -- what the American media call “inner-city youth” -- except that, in France, they are rather ‘outer-city’ youth, since they live in what, topographically, Americans would call “the suburbs”, but which, sociographically, is quite other than that:  la banlieue, the barely-policeable belt around Paris -- think of it as the inner city turned inside out.  Within the banlieue, you will find the cités, referenced above.   And this morning, this new bit of French political semantics, courtesy of Le Figaro:

De la banlieue rouge à la banlieue «verte» ?
La banlieue du chanteur Renaud a disparu.

The rouge (‘Red’) refers to Communist (Stalinist) influence:  it is a metaphor that the whole world borrowed from the Bolsheviks, after the Russian use.   But the verte -- the ‘Green’?
My first thought was that it referred to les écolos -- and indeed, there are pockets of (let us call it) Ecocentrism out in the banlieue as well, mixed in with everything else.   That is the only sense now current in America (“Go Green!” -- in your grandfather’s day, it referred rather to greenhorns -- newbies to you).  But that is not it.

The headline goes on:

Les anciens bastions du PCF ont cédé  face à la montée du communautarisme musulman.

Ah…. ha!   The reference is actually to Muslim identity-politics, coded by the color made especially familiar by Gaddhafi  (he brandished his little  Green Book, a counterpart to Mao’s Little Red Book).    This is not an essentially French usage; it is being borrowed from another culture.   And while the association of green with Islam is widespread, it is not the only color-code in play:  Hizbollah uses (green on) yellow; al-Qaeda and ISIL use (white on) black.   So if you ever see a forest of green banners marching towards your cul-de-sacs, relax:  it might have been worse.
Si cela vous parle,
savourez la série noire
en argot authentique d’Amérique :


[Update, one mug of fresh French roast  later]  The linguistically and culturally alert Le Figaro  this morning also offers this transAtlantic semantic observation, relevant to our remarks about the disparity between Green and verte:

Choisir un plat n'est pas aussi simple qu'on le croit
Une étude montre comment les restaurateurs peuvent rédiger un menu pour manger plus sain aux USA et plus «nature» en France.

Here the French word nature  (pron. na-TYOOR), originally a noun, is being used quasi-adverbially, like the adjective green in “Eat Green!”

[Update, in the wee hours of the morning, one mug (or more) of fine French claret later]   A remarkable post, relevant to this vert(e)/green business, which I have not had the leisure to assimilate:

Rien ne sert de se répandre en cérémonies mémorielles, en souvenir à n'en plus finir, en lois en monuments si c'est pour laisser se renouveller ailleurs ce qui vient de se produire.
Les Khmers Verts ont commencé leurs horreurs.
Quand aux lois, celles par exemple qui punissent le négationisme, elle s'arrêtent là où commencent leurs intérêts financiers ! Sur les bords du Bosphore, par exemple...
Pourtant, à partir de deux exemples historiques, il est facile d'observer ce qui mène au génocide.
Je vais m'appuyer sur deux exemples, les génocides arméniens et rwandais. Nous pouvons voir dans quelles conditions les génocides se produisent et pourquoi ces conditions sont réunis aujourd'hui, malheureusement contre les Arabes Chrétiens.

The elegant reference to "Khmer verts"  is evidently to the ISIL.
Stay tuned.

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