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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French word of the Day: Convivialté

This cheering concept has a wider meaning in French than it's English equivalent.

French word of the Day: Convivialté
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know convivialité?

The notion of convivialité, in addition to playing an important role in French culture, is driving recent conversations surrounding Covid and easing lockdown.

What does it mean?

Convivialité, from the Latin convivium (shared meal), is the notion of gathering together in a social way, whether it’s around the coffee machine at work or around the charcuterie board in a bar.

While the concept of conviviality exists in English, it tends to mean light-hearted moments of happiness, while in French you can use to describe any kind of group or social gathering. A recent decree relating to workplace-related health rules has a section on ‘des moments de convivialité‘, by which it meant workers gathering together for coffee breaks or canteen lunches. 

The notion of convivialité has a special place in French food culture. When UNESCO inscribed the gastronomic meal of the French onto its Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list in 2010, it wasn’t just simply protecting escargot or boeuf bourguignon. It characterises convivialité as one of the defining points of the French gastronomic meal, emphasising the importance of gathering together and sharing dinner as a cultural practice. 

More recently, the notion of convivialité has become prominent in the context of Covid-19, when lockdown measures and regulations have been designed specifically to block people from gathering together. In a recent dispatch on BFM TV, Minister of Labor Élisabeth Borne recognised the solitude that many workers are facing months into télétravail (working from home), emphasising that “we’re missing these moments of convivialité.”

Use it like this

Ce que je déteste le plus pendant le confinement, c’est le manque de convivialité – The thing I hate the most about confinement is the lack of social contact.

Je me suis beaucoup amusé à la soirée, il y avait un véritable esprit de convivialité – I had a lot of fun at the party, there was a really lively atmosphere

Le dîner avait une ambiance très convivial – The dinner had a very convivial atmosphere.

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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French Expression of the Day: La Première ministre

A brand new coinage in the French language that reflects the changing times.

French Expression of the Day: La Première ministre

Why do I need to know la Première ministre?

Because France has one now.

What does it mean?

La Première ministre – usually pronounced lah prem-ee-air mean-east-ruh– translates as “the prime minister,” but this spelling is different from what you might be used to seeing.

This title is feminised, indicating that the prime minister in question is a woman. Under former PMs such as Jean Castex, the masculine title Le Premier ministre was used.

Élisabeth Borne made headlines on May 16th not only because she was appointed as France’s second female prime minister, but also because she will be the first to use the feminisation of the work title: Madame la Première ministre. The female prime minister who held the position before her, Edith Cresson, used the masculine version of the title.

Feminising work titles has been controversial in France, and most titles like “le Premier ministre” have been automatically put in masculine form.

But in 2019, France’s infamous Academie Francaise, which polices the French language and typically resists any sweeping changes to it, changed their stance and said there was “no obstacle in principle” to the wholesale feminisation of job titles. 

Use it like this

Le Président Emmanuel Macron a fait une annonce importante. Élisabeth Borne est la Première ministre. – President Emmanuel Macron made an important announcement: Élisabeth Borne is the prime minister.

“Madame la Première ministre, qui avez-vous choisi pour diriger votre nouveau gouvernement ?” a demandé le journaliste. – “Madame Prime Minister, who have you chosen to lead your new government?” asked the journalist.

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