Meaning of French election 2012 slogan?
April 17, 2012 5:14 PM   Subscribe

Question about French election 2012 slogan: Prendre le pouvoir! (Hollande) Does it mean We can take it? Or Take it, we can! ???
posted by sparkle55 to Writing & Language (14 answers total)
pouvoir is also a noun meaning "power" - like political power.
posted by JPD at 5:16 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

"Take power!"
posted by blue_wardrobe at 5:16 PM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

sorry, it actually reads prends le pouvoir!

thanks jpd,
posted by sparkle55 at 5:19 PM on April 17, 2012

Still means "Take power!"
posted by ocherdraco at 6:39 PM on April 17, 2012

Or very literally, "let's take power", since "prends" is working as an imperative here.
posted by holgate at 6:47 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Isn't it just "take power!", since "let's take power" would be prenons le pouvoir?
posted by andrewesque at 8:41 PM on April 17, 2012

Sorta. It's idiomatic. On replaces Nous a lot of the time.
posted by JPD at 8:55 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's more subtle and universal than that – prendre is the infinitive form, and when used as an imperative without any pronouns, it's not specific to the present or to any one person or group. It's more a defined potential; an exhortation. For instance, I work as a software test expert and when writing tests, we use the infinitive: Cliquer sur OK rather than Cliquez sur OK so that the test is not only explicitly reusable (as existing in the testing tool and explained to everyone as meant to be reused), but implicitly reusable as well, in its language. This is not something that translates well in English; we rely more on context to put across the same sentiment.

In the context of the current elections, it's important to understand that Sarkozy's presidency has been one where a large segment of the French populace feel that Sarkozy has taken power from the people and handed it to his clique of friends: an exclusive, imperative taking of power. Thus, Hollande's inclusive exhortation, which can be used by anyone, at any time, as implied by its choice to use the infinitive, is directly aimed at reclaiming power for all.

"Take power!" in a sense of mutual empowerment is the closest translation to the actual sentiment put across.
posted by fraula at 11:42 PM on April 17, 2012 [8 favorites]

Actually it reads "Prenez le pouvoir" and it's the slogan of the farther-left Front de Gauche led by Mélenchon.
posted by mvd at 3:52 AM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

On replaces Nous a lot of the time.

I knew that, but prends is the tu form of the verb, not the il/elle/on form (which I don't think even has an imperative, and is just prend in the indicative present), so I'm still a little bit confused...?
posted by andrewesque at 6:02 AM on April 18, 2012

you are correct, I am wrong. Been a long time since I was writing anything in french. I don't think you would say "prenons le pouvoir" tho if you wanted to say "Let's take power"

But I think fraula's the most right.
posted by JPD at 7:15 AM on April 18, 2012

Mvd's correct as well. I passed a poster-column this morning and noticed: Mélenchon, "Prenez le pouvoir". So that's the second-person form, easy to do a literal translation that means the same: "Take power". It is less subtle than the infinitive usage.

Hollande's slogan is actually "Le changement, c'est maintenant." ("It's time for change" or "Change, now.")
posted by fraula at 11:05 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

I didn't even take into account the "prends le pouvoir!" update because no campaign would use the informal second person form. That's how important language is: "Prenez" formal and plural, and "prends" is informal and singular.
posted by fraula at 11:09 PM on April 18, 2012

thanks fraula, i was relying on my memory, watching the news on tv2, i must have got it wrong, esp about it not being hollande's slogan:)
posted by sparkle55 at 11:32 PM on April 19, 2012

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