Convivere, coureurs à vélo: New French words for our modern society

Times change and that requires language to evolve too. We look at some recent additions to the French vocabulary.

The newly invented jargon was inspired by ‘green’ thinking and inclusivity
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Whatever your political proclivity, a major feature of this year’s French Presidential election is candidates’ ecological credentials - and with their policy proposals come associated words and phrases.

Given that ‘green’ thinking has evolved hugely – at least, it has since those of us of a certain vintage learned French at school – plus the fact that newly invented jargon and (often meaningless) slogans accompany manifestos, for many of us there is plenty of catching up to do, just to be ‘in the debate’.

Le Figaro once ran a rather sniffy round-up of some of the (albeit dafter) re-imagined expressions being employed.

In Paris and Toulouse, it said, urban “micro-forêts” (micro-forests) are being planted at the foot of buildings, while in Lyon (with a green mayor), they call a park “un espace végétalisé” (a vegetated space); a pavement is “un grand corridor” (a large corridor); and humble cyclistes (cyclists) are now “coureurs à vélo” (bicycle riders).

Inclusivity and the notion of collective living are key tenets: today, to be ecological is not merely about recycling and climate change awareness – it is also to strive to “faire société”, “faire sens”, and “faire lien” (make society, make sense, make a link).

Convivialisme” (convivialism) encourages “convivere” (living-together) while, Le Figaro reports, we are asked to rethink how we see our fellow man/woman: we no longer live among “citoyens” (citizens) but rather “co-citoyens” (co-citizens) in order to “co-construire” (co-build) a world where every child will be “co-éduqué” (co-educated) by society as a whole.

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