August 1, 2014 11:58 am
Having read the title of this article you may have already started thinking about your dinner plans and the next gourmet encounter you will have. Owing its origin to the Old Provençal word ‘escaragol’, escargot is the word commonly used in French to indicate the traditional dish of edible terrestrial snails, usually served in the shell with a sauce of melted butter and garlic. However, we are not here to talk about food…
An ‘opération escargot’ is an action causing major traffic delays or blockage, all for the purpose of imposing political demands. Being very common in France since the 1970s when this kind of behaviour was first spotted, this type of demonstration deliberately impedes traffic as hundreds of vehicles (cars, trucks, tractors, depending on the demonstrators and their aims) fill all the lanes of a highway and drive slowly.
The aim of such demonstrations is to attract the attention of the stranded people and public opinion. To be successful, the opération escargot requires a sizeable group of participants with a sufficient number of vehicles for slowing or blocking. The operation itself should last long enough to attract media attention. Be that as it may, one of the potential drawbacks is that it may generate antipathy of the people who are stranded behind the action. To remedy this, the protesters sometimes combine the event with a “toll free” operation (opération ‘péage gratuit’), preventing companies from taking their toll during the opération escargot time.
In recent years this type of demonstration has been used in different sectors, such as those of private transportation, food and agriculture. Therefore, if you ever find yourself stuck in traffic think about the reason behind it and what history you may be part of. Otherwise, just make sure you always have the right kind of music with you in the car to keep you relaxed and cheerful until you reach your destination.
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By Kerasia Sklavounou
Student of MA Learning & Communication in Multilingual and Multicultural Contexts
University of Luxembourg
Study visitor at TermCoord
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