Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What Do the Lyrics to the "Alouette" Song Mean in English?

Knowledge is good, but there are certain things I would rather not know. The English translation of the French lyrics of "Alouette" is one of them. Since childhood I've loved this little song; it sounds so cheerful! The words "le tete"(the head) were the only ones I knew in English. I thought Alouette must be the name of a person, and a "jaunty" one at that.

I'd sort of forgotten about the song until a TV ad for Target stores started running, featuring this song and the antics of a troupe of acrobats in brightly colored costumes. It is all rather charming and the song got stuck in my head. Which led me to wonder what the song actually means. I looked it up and now I know. And wish I didn't. The lyrics are below. What do you think?



Here are the lyrics to "Alouette,"as provided by Wikipedia:

Alouette, gentille Alouette
Lark, nice lark
Alouette, je te plumerai
Lark, I shall pluck you
Je te plumerai la tête
I shall pluck your head
(Je te plumerai la tête)
(I shall pluck your head)
Et la tête
And your head
(Et la tête)
(And your head)
Alouette
Lark
(Alouette)
(Lark)
O-o-o-oh
Alouette, gentille Alouette
Alouette, je te plumerai
Je te plumerai le bec
I shall pluck your beak
(Je te plumerai le bec)
Et le bec
(Et le bec)
Et la tête
(Et la tête)
Alouette
(Alouette)
O-o-o-oh
The song continues in this fashion, with the italicized phrase (a part of the bird) in each verse being substituted with a new one, with the previous items being recited at the end:
  • Et le cou
And your neck
  • Et le dos
And your back
  • Et les ailes
And your wings
  • Et les pattes
And your feet
  • Et la queue
And your tail
La Conclusion
The Ending
O-o-o-o-oh
Alouette, gentille Alouette
Lark, nice lark
Alouette, je te plumerai
Lark, I shall pluck you
Naturally, the literal English translation does not match up well with the meter of the song, so a slightly less literal (but more singable) version would be:
Little skylark, lovely little skylark
Little lark, I'll pluck your feathers off
I’ll pluck the feathers off your head
I’ll pluck the feathers off your head
Off your head - off your head
Little lark, little lark
O-o-o-o-oh
And adding:
Off your beak
Off your neck
Off your back
Off your wings
Off your feet
Off your tail

Related posts:
Harmonizing with the Beaconettes
HONK! If You Love Music