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émeute

The Blue Door = La Porte Bleu (c) Kristin Espinasse

All is calm in our village. For thoughts on the French riots, read today's column below.

une émeute (ay-meuht) noun, feminine
  1. riot, rioting

Also: un émeutier, une émeutière = a rioter

Listen: hear my son Max pronounce the word "émeute": Download emeute.wav

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Expressions & Terms:
faire une émeute = to riot
provoquer une émeute = to cause a riot
une émeute racial = a race riot

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Citation du Jour:
Il est de l'essence de l'émeute révolutionnaire... d'avoir presque toujours tort dans la forme et raison dans le fond. It is of the essence of a revolutionary disturbance... of always being wrong in its form and right in its basis. --Victor Hugo

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A Day in a French Life...

My ten-year-old is wearing his Spiderman pajamas, robe and slippers. His shampooed hair is combed forward and comes to a slamming halt at the top of his forehead at which point the hair blasts skyward. So as to smooth any rough edges, he has pushed down the tips of the hair wall to a curl that resembles the top half of a question mark. Lately he's found an answer to that unruly bit of hair up front, known in French as 'une méche rebelle,' a rebel lock.

My son's hair smells like peaches, though I imagine that if "basketball" was a scent one could bottle, he'd have preferred that in his shampoo instead of péche.*
"Max. Can you help me record a word for tomorrow?" I say, my nose buried in the sweet-scented question mark above his brow.
"Bien sûr, maman."*
"Do you know the word émeute?"
"No, but I've heard of it." After some thought, he cautions, "but if you don't know it, you shouldn't write about it."

Last week, while listening to French nightly news, I learned, for the first time, the noun émeute. I may have heard the word before, but it never registered; my mind skipped over it, pushing it back into the dark recesses or margins of its domain, deciding for itself that the noun was unimportant, incapable, of any use, or simply too complex to understand. Some people in France are feeling just like that noun, discriminated against.

I'll take my son's advice and not write about something I don't fully comprehend. Though I am beginning to understand the basis for the French riots (misère* and unemployment) I do not understand the form (violence).

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References: une péche (f) = peach; bien sûr, maman = of course, mom; la misère (f) = poverty, destitution

In Books: The Color of Liberty: Histories of Race in France

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