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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French Word of the Day: Chouchou

It is about time that we included this adorable sounding word into our Word of the Day series.

French Word of the Day: Chouchou
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know chouchou? 

Because it has versatile meanings and sounds nice. 

What does it mean?

Chouchou, pronounced “shou-shou”, has a variety of uses. 

The first is as a childish term of endearment to imply that someone is the favourite person in the group – to this end, it is often used in a school setting, typically to say that someone is a teacher’s pet.

If the person in question is a girl or woman, you should use the word chouchoute instead. The masculine or mixed plural is chouchoux and the feminine plural is chouchoutes

In a more serious context, you can use it to mean that someone is the ‘darling’ or the favourite of a particular political group or movement.

As a verb, you can use chouchouter to mean “to spoil” or “to pamper”. 

Chouchou is also the word for a hairband or scrunchy that could be used to hold a pony tail or a bun together. 

There is also a kind of sugarcoated peanut in France – a traditional sweet – which are known as chouchous

Use it like this

C’est le chouchou de la maîtresse – It is the teacher’s pet 

De chouchou à cancre du gouvernement, la descente aux enfers de Jean-Michel Blanquer – From the darling to the dunce of government, the descent into hell of Jean-Michel Blanquer (a critical news headline concerning France’s education minister).

Je veux te chouchouter – I want to spoil you 

J’ai besoin d’un chouchou pour maintenir ma queue-de-cheval – I need a scrunchy to hold my ponytail in place 

Synonyms 

Another way to describe someone as being the favourite is as la coqueluche (although the primary meaning of this word is the contagious disease whooping cough).

Carla Bruni était la coqueluche des médias – Carla Bruni was a favourite of the media. 

You can also used the following adjectives to describe someone as the favourite: favori, préféré, privilégie 

A rude alternative to chouchou, to insultingly describe someone as showing sycophantic behaviour to become the favourite of someone in authority in lèche-cul – “arse licker”. 

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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French Word of the Day: Soixante-huitard

About one in five people of a certain French generation can be described using this term.

French Word of the Day: Soixante-huitard

Why do I need to know soixante-huitard?

Because it references a very important part of French history and culture.

What does it mean?

Soixante-huitard – pronounced swah-sahnt wheat arr – literally means sixty-eighter. While its translation might sound a bit like a sports team (ex. Forty-niners),  this term in French has an important political and social context behind it. 

A soixante-huitard is someone who participated in the famous May 1968 protests in France. With the backdrop of the Prague Spring and the American Civil Rights Movement and anti-war protests, French students and striking workers demanded a more egalitarian world in May 1968. 

This period of civil unrest lasted seven weeks and even forced then-President Charles de Gaulle to temporarily flee to West Germany. The events of this time have had a profound effect on French culture and politics. 

Around 11 million people – 22 percent of the population at the time – was involved in some way or another, and these days, those people are referred to as un soixante-huitard or une soixante-huitarde (for a woman). 

Though the term is typically reserved to refer to those actually involved in the protest movement, it can occasionally be used as a way to describe someone who has held onto the far-left ideas or sentiments from the 1968 movement.

Use it like this

Il a gardé ses convictions d’extrême-gauche longtemps après 1968. C’est un vrai soixante-huitard. – He held onto his far-left beliefs long after 1968. He is a true sixty-eighter. 

Tu pourrais être surpris que ta tante ait une soixante-huitarde. Ses opinions ont certainement changé avec le temps. Tu ne l’aurais jamais deviné ! – You might be surprised that your aunt participated in May 68. Her opinions have really changed with time, you would never have guessed it.

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