Tuesday, July 20, 2010

On a Botched Lyrics Translation - Dites-moi

Last night I was running on the treadmill and watching the newer version of South Pacific, with Glenn Close and Harry Connick, Jr. (which my wife and I like better than the 1958 version, by the way), and there is this little song in it called "Dites-moi". For some reason, I really love this song. Perhaps it's because I find it's simplicity charming, or perhaps it's because I took 5 years of French when I was in school and I still retain a minimal capacity to understand it. Either way, I enjoy the song quite a bit.

So this morning I'm in the shower and this song is going through my head, but I couldn't remember some of the words. Once I got online, I went to go look up the lyrics, and was stunned to find a translation that goes like this:

Tell me why
The sky
Is filled with music
Tell me why
We fly
On clouds above
Can it be
That we
Can fly to music
Just because
Just because
We're in love

I was appalled, astonished, and slightly enraged. This particular translation is absolutely, completely, and wholeheartedly false, and loses the entire intent and beauty of the song. To wit, the actual words are as follows:

Dites-moi
Pourquoi
La vie est belle
Dites-moi
Pourquoi
La vie est gai
Dites-moi
Pourquoi,
Chere Mad'moiselle,
Est-ce que
Parce que
Vous m'aimez?

This actually translates, line by line, to the following:

Tell me
Why
Life is beautiful
Tell me
Why
Life is happy
Tell me
Why,
Dear young lady,
Is it
Because
You love me?

I can hear it gently in my head as I type, and I love it. As for that other translation, well, you can keep it. I'll keep singing it in French.

1 comment:

Melissa said...

Harry Connick Jr. and Glenn Close? I'm not sure about that. But I can't stand the original, so maybe if you like this one better, I'll give it a try. We just watched the Disney remake of Annie. It was no good. You can't improve on the original.

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