Monday, January 10, 2011

Skinning a Bird!

There are some songs that we play in the car from the SD card, or we just leave the CDs in there, so one day, when at home, Rosabelle told me she wanted to listen to ‘Alouette’, I was quite surprised. It’s not like those songs which she sings frequently (like Old King Cole, a favourite now), nor even hums. So I said the song isn’t at home, and she said, ‘爸爸车有', then went on to sing the first line!

Now that wouldn’t be so amazing if it was an English song, but this is a French song, and I could only mimic the first line (and Rosabelle as well, quite clearly at that, French intonation and all – ‘Alouette, gentille Alouette’), without understanding the meaning. So when we listened to it again later in the car, and she was singing happily to it without missing a beat, I thought I’d better find out what on earth we were singing about, and to learn the lyrics so that I can teach her the proper French way to sing it, haha!

This is what I found out on Wikipedia (extracted):

Alouette is a popular French Canadian children's song about plucking the feathers off a skylark, a small bird. It originated with the French Canadian fur trade. Many American doughboys learned the song while serving in France during World War I and brought it home with them. Today, the song is used to teach French and English speaking children in Canada the names of their body parts. Singers will point or touch the part of their body that corresponds to the word being sung in the song.

The song is simply translated as:
Little skylark, lovely little skylark
Little lark, I will 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 wings
Off your back
Off your legs
Off your tail


When I read that, I was like… erm… okaaay…. teaching her to mistreat a bird? Fur trade?? PETA will be out to stone me! Plucking off a bird's feathers??? Ouch! But it’s a really cute and upbeat song, and it does sound much better in French, so it’s back to jogging my memory of the semester of introductory French I learnt in Year 2 at University!

Full set of lyrics below in French for anybody interested…
Alouette, gentille Alouette
Alouette, je te plumerai
Je te plumerai la tête
(Je te plumerai la tête)
Et la tête
(Et la tête)
Alouette
(Alouette)
O-o-o-oh
Alouette, gentille Alouette
Alouette, je te plumerai
Je te plumerai le bec
(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
Et le dos
Et les ailes
Et les pattes
Et la queue
La Conclusion
O-o-o-o-oh
Alouette, gentille Alouette
Alouette, je te plumerai

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