Chienlit

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La Chienlit c'est lui from the student protests in Paris during May 1968

Chienlit is a traditional French term typically translated as masquerade (French Mascarade) or carnival/chaos. It was brought to notoriety by General Charles de Gaulle in an angry speech during the student protests in Paris during May 1968 in France, when he used the vernacular term as a scatological pun "La réforme oui, la chie-en-lit non" meaning Reform yes, but chaos - no whilst the pun was Reform - yes, shit in bed - no .

The term is now common parlance in French political commentary, used both critically and ironically referring back to de Gaulle.

Origins[edit]

First written appearance of the word Chienlictz in Gargantua.
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The blurred etymological origin of chie-en-lit / chienlit was the medieval carnival/masquerade[1] when peasants and artisans had one day per year to celebrate, to abandon all work and chores, to abandon contemporary mores and conventions, to crap in bed. Somebody would be chosen as king for a day, and even the lord of the manor sometimes joined in, enduring ritual humiliation, such as being led through the streets like a servant, or slave, or dog.

The first known appearance of the term is in the 16th century novel The Life of Gargantua and of Pantagruel by François Rabelais.[2] and it was used by Émile Zola in both Nana (1880),[3] and L'Assommoir (1887).[4]

Charles de Gaulle[edit]

'Chienlit' was brought to notoriety by General Charles de Gaulle in an angry speech during the student protests in Paris during May 1968 in France, when he used the vernacular term as a scatological pun "La réforme oui, la chie-en-lit non" meaning shit in bed. He used it first in a private meeting discussing the demand for direct participation in business and government by students and workers. This was first reported by the Minister of Information Georges Gorse and softened by the French media to 'masquerade/chaos'. De Gaulle then repeated it in a TV broadcast for high impact.

Subsequently the students re-used the expression on leaflets where the silhouette of de Gaulle was accompanied by the slogans "La chienlit, c'est lui ! - the chienlit, it is him!" and "La chienlit, c'est encore lui ! - it is still him!".[5]

The term is now common parlance in French political commentary, used both critically and ironically referring back to de Gaulle.

Chien lit - Dog bed[edit]

De Gaulle's use of obscure vernacular profanity in a major speech was initially mistranslated by The Guardian and the English press corps as chien lit - dog bed, alluding to a chaotic, dishevelled, malodorous, flea pit.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • François Caradec, La Chienlit de papa, Paris, A. Michel, 1968. OCLC 10218820
  • Siné, La Chienlit : c'est moi !, Paris : Balland, 1978. OCLC 10798655
  • Dominique Venner, La chienlit : petit guide de la contestation en politique, à l'université, au théâtre, au cinéma, dans la chanson, dans l'église; etc., Paris, 1969. OCLC 69179217
  • Jean-Jaques Lebel, La chienlit Dokumente zur französischen Mai-Revolte, Darmstadt Melzer 1969. OCLC 174305937

External links[edit]