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L'envers de 1900. Le lexique des luttes et de l'organisation ouvrières en France

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DOI: 10.3406/mots.1982.1077
  • Design
  • Linguistics
  • Political Science


THE OTHER SIDE OF 1900. THE LEXICON OF THE LABOUR STRUGGLES AND ORGANIZATION IN FRANCE The false front of the «belle époque» in 1900 is only too well known. In the background of the industrial boom, the texts which speak for those who made it possible by the sweat of their own brow, are surprising, due to the extent of pauperist vocabulary and to the vigorous revival of revolutionary trends dating from 1793 and 1848. The evocation of social struggles draws on there registers to such an extent that some real myths (in Sorel's sense), come into confrontation: the heroic and military aspects of words such as phalanges ouvrières, guerre sociale, Dieu capital, vampirisme, capitaliste, and the expectancy of the Grand Soir, which follows the Grand Jour relying in extreme left wing discourse, on the dynamic grève-généraliste. In everyday reality large lexical items give way to the designation of strikers and scabs: marked systems oppose one another and are dominated by the clash of the rouges and the jaunes ; labour organization emerges from unlawfulness after having looked for its words ans structures throughout the century. Bourse, fédération and then syndicat, which is by for the most productive on the morphological level, triumph in the lexical competition and organize a coherent lexicon around themselves. Thus, with the help of old remotivated formants, a complete system of designation for men and groups is put into place, on the end of the 19th century, to meet the needs of a new society rushed off its feet.

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