Monday, July 10, 2017

Someone told me...

My French teacher turned the class onto the music of Carla Bruni (now the wife of former French president Nikolas Sarkozy, particularly her justifiably popular Quelqu'un m'a dit.


It's a lovely song and also, it seems to me, quintessentially French in its quasi-philosophical lyrics interrupted by the refrain in which the singer hopes she is still loved by some unnamed individual.

But not just the content - the way she briskly clips along is just like French speakers - talking too fast for anglophones to keep up.

Here are the lyrics in French:
On me dit que nos vies ne valent pas grand chose
Elles passent en un instant comme fanent les roses.
On me dit que le temps qui glisse est un salaud
Que de nos chagrins il s'en fait des manteaux
Pourtant quelqu'un m'a dit.
 
Que tu m'aimais encore
C'est quelqu'un qui m'a dit que tu m'aimais encore.
Serait-ce possible alors?
 
On me dit que le destin se moque bien de nous
Qu'il ne nous donne rien et qu'il nous promet tout
Paraît que le bonheur est à portée de main
Alors on tend la main et on se retrouve fou
 (Refrain)
Mais qui est-ce qui m'a dit que toujours tu m'aimais?
Je ne me souviens plus c'était tard dans la nuit
J'entends encore la voix, mais je ne vois plus les traits
Il vous aime, c'est secret, lui dites pas que je vous l'ai dit
Tu vois quelqu'un m'a dit
 (Refrain)
On me dit que nos vies ne valent pas grand chose
Elles passent en un instant comme fanent les roses
On me dit que le temps qui glisse est un salaud
Que de nos tristesses il s'en fait des manteaux
Pourtant quelqu'un m'a dit
 
Que tu m'aimais encore
C'est quelqu'un qui m'a dit que tu m'aimais encore.
Serait-ce possible alors?

The refrain is translated as:
That you still loved me
Someone said you still loved me.
Can it be true?
And the lyrics...
They say our lives are not worth much
Passing in an instant like fading roses.
They say that time is a bastard
Who makes coats out of our pain.
But someone told me (lyrics)
They say fate mocks us,
Promising everything, giving nothing,
Happiness is within reach
But we get nothing but craziness.
But someone told me (lyrics)
But who is it who always told me you loved me?
I do not remember, it was late at night
I can still hear the voice but I can not see the features
"He loves you, it's secret, do not tell him I told you"
You see, someone told me ...

Ooh intrigue.

The first line of the refrain has a handy demonstration for why French (or I supposed all Romance languages) is difficult for anglophones - the word order is mixed up:

The line is:
Que tu m'aimais encore
Which is literally translated as "That you me were loving still"

The concept is easy enough to grasp in writing, but when you're listening to someone speak French you're constantly going back to earlier in the sentence. Like "OK so they said "you were loving still... who? - oh right, the "m" which stands for "me" is tacked onto the beginning of "were loving" so that's who.

Oh and "encore" can mean both "again" which is how English-speakers know it but at the same time also means "still." Because of course it would.

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