Going to a demonstration in a country where you’re not a citizen and don’t speak the language probably isn’t the brightest thing in the world, but last weekend there was an anti-Fascism demonstration (manifestation anti-fa) in Paris, and I feel strongly about anti-Fascism, so I went and marched. I couldn’t understand most of the chants, but Pas de fachos dans nos quartiers, pas de quartier pour les fachos (“no Fascists in our neighborhoods, no quarter for Fascists”–it sounds better in French than in English, as it plays on two meanings of the word quartier) is about the speed of my French, so I joined in when they chanted that one. (There’s a similar play on ambiguity in Face à l’extrême droite, pas un seul pas en arrière–“confronting the extreme right, not a single step backwards,” which plays on two meanings of the word pas.) There was a lot of smoke from flares, a little trash-burning, a little glass-smashing, and an awful lot of riot police, but other than that, things weren’t particularly hairy–the French are old hands at demonstrations, strikes, and the like.
As always, Zipf’s Law strikes, and I learned lots of new words. I thought that taking photos of people at a demonstration was probably a good way to get your phone taken away, get your ass kicked, or worse, so I didn’t take very many pictures at all, but of course much of the language is in the signs anyway. Stoppons was my favorite word of the day–“let’s stop,” as in stoppons la violence–“let’s stop the violence” (see picture below). Other useful words of the day:
- manifestation: demonstration. This is such an important word in France that you learn it in French 101 in college. I include it here for the reader’s edification–it’s not a word that I didn’t know before, unlike every other word that you’ll read in this blog.
- la rixe: fight, altercation, brawl. This demonstration was the one-year anniversary of the death of a French anti-Fascist activist in a rixe with some right-wing skinheads.