Features > Putsch over

13 March 2014 | by John Morrish

Putsch over

The Language Game

Mr Putin, the Russian President, has no doubt about what happened in Kiev. It was, he said, an “anti-constitutional coup”. But to the pro-Western demonstrators who forced the removal of Ukraine’s President Yanukovych, it wasn’t a “coup” at all: it was a “revolution”. In a way, they amount to the same thing: the sudden and extra-parliamentary replacement of a government. But the two words have different associations.In the eighteenth century, the French word coup, meaning a blow, became current in England. It meant a successful move rather than a physical strike. An article in The Gentleman’s Magazine from 1791 talked about, “A corrupt majority, who have at one coup overthrown all that is good.” Today, we still use it in exa


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