Bastille Day in Boston

With a few minutes left in Bastille Day on Marlborough Street in Boston, here is a photo of the French Cultural Center’s annual street fête as seen from above. A smaller, quieter crowd than previous years, it was protected by a police presence and huge, now-usual garbage trucks blocking the entrances to the street.  The terror attack in Nice was, after all, last year on this day.

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France welcomes us all!

Yet another reason to love France: French President Emmanuel Macron launched a website urging anyone concerned with climate change to move to France: –
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Contre Trump – le monde entier

Paris city hall with green light

From Paris to NYC and beyond, we’re all in disbelief. When I listened to the French news today on TV5 Monde, I thought of all the words related to this political and economic turning point that my students wouldn’t necessarily understand. I will list and translate some of the more important and common ones below to help in future efforts at comprehension.


Trump défie (defies) la planète. Il tourne le dos (is turning his back) au reste du monde. Sa décision: retirer (withdraw) les États-Unis de l’accord de Paris sur le climat. Résultat: “une onde de choc” (a shock wave), “un coup de tonnerre pour la planète” (a clap of thunder), “une condamnation unanime de la communauté internationale.”

Le Président français Macron condamne la décision en français et – aux Américains – en anglais. D’abord, en français: “Sur le climat, il n’y a pas de Plan B car il n’y a pas de Planète B.” Puis, en direct (live) à la télévision américaine: “We all share the same responsibility, make our planet great again.” The irony stings!

En signe de protestation, Paris illumine son Hôtel de Ville (City Hall) de vert. NYC habille (covers) plusieurs de ces monuments de vert aussi.

Trump est seul.

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Why Can’t WE have this ?

Why can’t we have something like this in Boston or New York? Last night, Paris and 30 other European countries celebrated their Nuit européenne des musées, an all-night event with FREE entry to all kinds of museums. All that “dans une ambiance festive et conviviale,” according to its website. The photos on the website will make you want to go there immediately!


Petit Palais – Musée des Beaux Arts de la ville de Paris

Petit Palais vue façade nuit © Petit Palais
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Ouf = Whew !

Ouf, whew, the Good Guy won and the French Trump equivalent lost, thank goodness! Reasonable people in France can finally breathe with relief.

Now there is a new challenge: they have to win the legislative elections in about a month, for which there will also be 2 rounds. Why is that tougher than for past presidents?  Macron only recently put together his party so he has no party members in place around the country to run for 577 positions in the National Assembly.

There are several differences between French and American elections, one of which is that, at least in this one, the loser never conceded. Another seems to be that Macron chose his own inauguration date – or, at least, the date was just announced.

An interesting new word: l’intronisation = inauguration. It literally means enthronement but the French are using it the way we use inauguration.

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Political blackout so 3 Franglais freebies

A campaign blackout covers France today – no news of tomorrow’s elections in the media. I could write my friends info from here but that wouldn’t be kosher (catholique en français).  Plus, I hope CNN and the web are still functioning there.

To compensate for this lack of political news, I’m offering 3 new anglicisms to my students and other anglos for free if they don’t know the traditional French terms. First, two English cognates that were considered major errors until recently and, then, an English word stolen for lack of a perfectly good French term:

confus/e  used to mean embarrassed, overwhelmed, moved and now returns to its roots to include confused.  (con + fuse)

opportunité – native English speakers used to have to force ourselves to say occasion to translate the English opportunity but we’re now allowed to trust our langage instincts.

low-cost = à prix réduit. Or do you think low-cost connotes something a bit different in the following statement from a letter Le Monde sent its subscribers today, May 5, 2017?

“C’est la mission des 400 journalistes du Monde, en France et à l’étranger, d’être vos envoyés spéciaux, de donner la parole aux plus grands intellectuels, de raconter ce qui dérange, d’aller au-delà du bruit médiatique et de l’information low cost.”
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Will the French Vote for a Trump Equivalent? One week to the answer.

The tension is growing in pre-election France.  Stephen “Etienne” Roop, a political scientist, expert in polling, tries to enlighten us here.

Subject: One week out, is the French first round turning into a photo finish?

The French media are breathless this weekend over a new poll which seems to say of the impending April 23 first round presidential vote:  it’s now a foursome, and any combination of two can win.  I’d say we need to take a deep breath before buying in quite yet.
For months a familiar two-part scenario for April 23 has seemed fixed in the minds of observers and ordinary citizens.  First part:  the two leading candidates in the polls, newcomer Emmanuel Macron and outsider Marine Le Pen, would continue their leads and easily win the first round and face each other in the second round, which is limited to the top two vote-getters in the first round.  Second part:  Macron would demolish Le Pen in the second round.
But on Friday, April 14, Le Monde said there was developing “a situation unprecedented in the last 50 years….”  It based its claim on the newest poll from its highly respected pollster Ipsos, hot from the field April 12-13.  The poll results are very clear:  the April 23 race us suddenly a foursome.  Just three points separate the four top candidates.  As they have for months, Macron and Le Pen still lead, but now with only 22% each.  Hard right Républicain standard bearer Francois Fillon, long an also-ran candidate dogged by scandal but bouyed by incredibly loyal supporters, is an also-ran no more, at 19%. The big drama is the unexpected consolidation on the left.  Jean-Luc Mélenchon, head of his own party France Insoumise, has surged dramatically to 20% while the establishment socialist party’s candidate Benoît Hamon has collapsed.   The margin of error in the Le Monde poll is +2.7%.  That’s a startling amount of overlap, and thus uncertainty, among the four top candidates.  A clear implication of Le Monde‘s poll is that both the current poll leaders, Macron and Le Pen, could be excluded from the second round.  Since Le Pen has been the cynosure of the 2017 elections almost since the previous elections in 2012, her exclusion is certainly a stunning possibility.  Since Macron has been, for many (including perhaps many abstainers), the genial antidote to Le Pen, his exclusion may be no less stunning.  One or both of these exclusions would make for the final boulversement of this extraordinary presidential campaign.
How persuasive is Le Monde‘s Ipsos poll?  Le Monde‘s voice is disproportionately influential in France, its pollster is highly respected, and the Ipsos poll results are the talk of April 23 watchers everywhere.  But there are five other quite current polls.   All six agree that the socialist party candidate Hamon is foundering and far-left candidate Mélenchon is soaring.  But the April 23 messages of the other five are not uniform otherwise.  BVA’s poll, in the field April 12-14, also shows a three point margin separating the top four candidates.  Ifop-Fidicial, in the field April 11-14,  shows a four-point margin.  Does the one-day-more-recent field sample explain Ipsos’s tighter result?  Unlikely.  Odoxa, in the field exactly the same days as Le Monde‘s Ipsos poll, shows Macron and Le Pen close but a six point spread between the top four candidates.  The Harris and Elabe polls likewise show Macron or Le Pen close, but a five-point spread between the top four.  Harris was in the field April 11-13, Ifop-Fiducial April 11-14.  It’s hard, without torturing the data, to get a consistent pattern here–for example, that nearness to today of time in the field leads to tighter results.
Focusing on one poll, however tantalizing its import, is dangerous.  Better to look at the aggregate of these six current polls.  I take a simple arithmetic average of the results and do not adjust for each poll’s sample size; this average is for voters who express a preference.  The two leaders are clustered together:  Macron is at 23.08% support, with Le Pen just trailing at 22.41%.  The two followers are clearly behind, but close to one another:  Fillon is in third with 19.42%, and Mélenchon just trails him at fourth, with 19.25%. So the spectrum is a bit more than four points. (Compare the latest poll compilation result in Le Huffington Post:  Macron, 23%; Le Pen, 22.7%; Fillon, 19.5%; Mélenchon, 19.3%.   Almost identical both in terms of candidate support and spectrum!)  I did the same computation with each pollster’s previous poll, just to measure dynamics a bit.  The in-field dates are more skewed than ‘for the current six polls (thus álso making a comparison with prior composite results in Le Huffington Post impossible).  The results in the immediately prior polls are the same shape:  Macron barely ahead of Le Pen, 23.4% to 23.3%, and they lead the other two, who are themselves close, with Fillon at 18.92 and Mélenchon at 18.33.  The spectrum here is slightly over five points.  So the race is tightening slightly, based on the dynamics these six pairs of polls reveal: Macron and Le Pen are drifting downward (as they have been for several weeks–especially Le Pen); Fillon’is rebounding slightly; Mélenchon alone is really rising.   But I wouldn’t, yet, quite call it a foursome.
Entering the last week, each of the four candidates has strengths and weaknesses .  Le Pen’s voters are the most loyal, though some data I have seen recently suggests some desertions after the debates on March 20 and April 4, and, again, her numbers have been trending downward over the last several weeks:  two months ago today her Le Huffington composite was 26%, one month ago today it was 26.1%.  Fillon also has loyal voters, and he has managed to fight back extremely bad press over the no-show jobs he gave his wife, for which they are now both in deep trouble with the French legal system; nonetheless most non-supporters wish he had dropped out of the race when that system began putting the screws to him, and they are unlikely to reward his persistence on April 23.  So it is no surprise he has moved barely at all over time:  two months ago he was 19.6% in the Le Huffington composite, 18.8% thirty days ago, 19.5% currently.    Macron is the boy-wonder, young and appealing, and widely believed, by many people for a long time, to be the likeliest next president; nonetheless he’s a newcomer, and–perhaps as a necessary correlate of his rhetoric about transcending the left-right divide of French politics and taking good ideas wherever he finds them–his platform can be annoyingly vague, so subject to onslaughts from his more ideologically predictable rivals.  Late in March he (barely) overtook Le Pen to top the Le Huffington composite (24.9% v. Le Pen’s 24.8%) but Macron had already peaked and both have since then drifted down together in lockstep, Macron always just barely ahead of Le Pen.   Mélanchon has been around French politics for a long time and has a lot of baggage from his far-left past; nonetheless his oratory and his crowds of late have been impressive, and he has fairly vaulted upward in the last four weeks:  sixty days ago, he was 11.8% in the Le Huffington composite (with Hamon over 15%), thirty days ago just 12.1% (to Hamon’s 13.1%). Mélenchon has gotten to his current 19.3% in the Le Huffington composite in no small part because of his excellent performance in both televised debates, and very adroit followup; he seems to have neutralized most of the whiff of old party apparatchik that has long bedeviled him, though of course not everyone is persuaded.  (The folksy sweater doesn’t hurt!)
Plainly the question on every observer’s mind this week will be:  can Mélenchon’s rise continue until April 23?
Mélenchon’s favorability among likely voters is, no surprise, rising even faster than his poll support.  That rising favorability is probably the key to any further Mélenchon poll progress.  Support might continue to come from Hamon voters jumping ship.  Perhaps abstainers will no longer abstain.
Of course, Mélenchon’s further progress is not inevitable.  The other candidates are unlikely to sit quietly for the last week.  And while some voters may shift from another candidate or abstention to support Mélenchon, others may react to stop or slow his progress.
We’ll just have to hope the remaining polls of this coming week will give us some clues about where this suddenly much more interesting April 23 contest is going.
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