Catching up on my favorite French news show by podcast after getting back from Japan, I immediately learnt some new words. As my show was starting, the police attack on the terrorists in the Saint-Denis apartment was still in progress.
Saint-Denis was the burial place of the French royalty from the 600s to the 1820s. Pépin le Bref, King of the Franks, was crowned there in 751; Graham Robb, in his book Parisians: An adventure history of Paris, tells the story of how Napoleon saw an operetta about him the night that he (Napoleon, not Pépin le Bref) lost his virginity. Today Saint-Denis is better known for the role that it played in the Paris attacks of 13/11.
Here’s how the show opened. My news show, not the operetta. Zipf’s Law…
Des hommes sont aujourd’hui retranchés dans un appartement en Saint-Denis au nord de Paris. La police antiterroriste a donné l’assaut.
- se retrancher: to entrench oneself; to hide away, to take refuge. (If it’s not reflexive, it means something totally different.)
- un assaut: assault, attack.
- prendre d’assaut: to storm, to take by storm.
- donner l’assaut (à): to attack.