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06 July 2009

3rd & final warning / CORRECTED crappy unauthorized English translation of "Petite annonce amoureuse" / aussi: les Filles du Roy

TO: Robert Merkin

M. Merkin:

l'Academie Française exige que vous ne tentiez jamais de parler ou écrire en français encore.

Cette est votre avertissement ters et final.

Philippe de Montebello
l'Academie Française

patfromch said...

That cover is just awful.

The music isn't. Folksy pop, a bit of country, georgeous quebequois accent. Call me an Idiot, somehow this reminds me of the Indigo Girls or Joni Mitchell in their best moments. This Is Montreal, Not Nashville.

Uplifting music for a wonderful hot sunny summer afternoon like today (even though the lyrics are not meant to be uplifting somehow).

Vleeptron has broadend my horizon once again ! I for one know who I am going to play this to, wonder if she likes it...


Did you see the goofy YouTube video? La realizatrix (?) is as talented and funny as les chanteuses.

Okay, about the cover.

I have "Pronto Monto" down in the basement in vinyl, my Shrine to les Saintes McGarrigle c'est la bas aussi, candles, incense ...

"Pronto Monto" was released in 1978, when Anna was 34 and Kate was 36. Above, les Soeurs McGarrigle in a more recent photograph.

I would whack a perfect stranger if either of these ladies asked me to. They could pay me by singing to me.


There is a little ambiguity about the authorship of the song "Petite annonce amoureuse." It's by Kate and Anna McGarrigle, but may also have been co-written by Philippe Tatartcheff, a poet who has written songs the McGarrigle Sisters have made popular before. One source co-credits almost all the songs on this album to Tatartcheff.

Tatartcheff lives or once lived in Val d'Or, in Northern Quebec, and his Day Job was as a miner in a gold mine. Gold mines are our deepest human-made penetrations into the Earth, and are extraordinarily dangerous workplaces. To get the gold we love so much, a lot of people die every year all over the world. I drove through Val d'Or and stopped for gas on a day there'd been a very bad collapse, with lives lost, in the gold mine. The young woman I spoke to said everyone in town knew someone trapped in the mine.

The price of gold is up -
- it always goes up during economic crises or collapses -- and suddenly a long-abandoned mine in the center of Johannesburg, South Africa, has re-opened. Hundreds of badly (but regularly) paid miners are going down one of Earth's deepest holes again, because people trust gold, where they have lost faith in other forms of value storage -- stocks, bonds, derivatives, pork belly futures, exotic loans and odd financial arrangements with questionable promises on pieces of paper. We have lost faith in paper, and instinctively want to hoard gold, which we can touch and pet and admire and weigh and assay.

Gold was regarded as the tangible manifestation of the Sun on Earth, and silver the manifestation of the Moon. Women were often prohibited from being associated with or coming near goldsmiths and gold metallurgy; their presence was believed to spoil or ruin the magic associated with working in this unique metal, which never rusts or oxidizes. Thus gold is believed to be the only uncorruptible -- eternal -- substance on Earth, requiring special priestly ritual.

All else which we experience decays, rots, rusts.

Gold has unique chemical and industrial properties. It can be hand-pounded to foils of one or two or three atoms of thinness. (You can wrap chocolates in this foil, and eat the chocolate, gold foil and all, without harm.) The contact surfaces of electrical connections which must be reliable (telecom, space) are often gold or gold-plated. Gold dissolves only in a highly concentrated cocktail of Aqua Regia -- nitric and hydrochloric acid.

* * *

"La vache qui pleure" (2003) is the McGarrigle Sisters' second album of (mostly) French / Quebecois songs.

After bothering a very nice fellow named Aesop on the Internet Relay Chat UnderNet channel #Montreal, I have hammered out an Unauthorized English translation, I did the best I could.

Aesop informs me that "fille du Roy" is a 300- or 400-year-old expression for prostitute, streetwalker, sex worker.

{Aesop} Fille du Roy = Whores
{Droog4} ah ah ah ah merci
{Droog4} this is a local nuance i do not know
{Aesop} Im not a whore, i feel happy or not.
{Aesop} it's an old timer expression
{Droog4} the singers are Montreal sisters, now they are maybe 60 annes
{Aesop} fille du roy = more than 300-400 years old expression
{Aesop} hehe
{Aesop} it was used in the times of kings and knights
{Droog4} ah wow, i would never have known this, this is not in regular Larousse
{Aesop} nop

If you find mistakes, glaring or subtle, in this translation, SVP Leave A Comment, set me straight. I did the best I could. I tried to retain or reproduce the expressing style of the singers, the intentions of the woman who sings

A little personal love ad

Looking for man five-foot-three
I'm no debutante, no Fille du Roy
Sometimes I'm happy
Sometimes I'm not
Please answer my ad

Whoever answers this ad
He'll get a nice reward

Whoever answers this ad
He'll get a nice reward

Me I'm not quite five-foot-two
But I'm not lame
I wouldn't be taller than you
You'd be a little taller than me
For the love of God, answer

I've had it with being alone at my place
It breaks my heart, hurts my liver too
Dogs run away from me
Cats stare at me
Little kids are scared of me

I only smoke good tobacco
I like mice, I hate rats
Two paws, three or four paws
Bums or fine aristocrats

Five-two, five-three
Glass eye, wooden leg
And especially savoir faire


patfromch said...

Aesop is right, see here's_Daughters.

When he refers to Larousse he means the french equivalent of the Webster or Oxford Standard. A heavy thick book in blue and red that can be used as a deadly weapon when used correctly.

Yor translation gets thumbs-up from me and reminds me that I need to polish up my french some time or another. There were times when I had to use french every day and that has been a while...

Vleeptron Dude said...

no no ... on Internet Relay Chat *I* am Droog4 (from "A Clockwork Orange"), Droog4 has the battered-up ancient paperback Larousse (for emergencies involving les saucisses).

But thanks for the insight about Fille du Roy ... Wikipedia has this link:

They were the King's (Louis XIV) Daughters because the king sponsored them to send to New France to marry the men colonists and explode the French population.

So today in Quebec or Acadie, "Fille du Roy" would mean "woman with very fancy patrician family genealogy" ...

like in USA, the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Some Parisienne prostitutes were sent -- transported, like English criminals to North Amwerican colonies and then Australia -- to the French islands in the Caribbean, and as a joke they were also called "filles du Roy," and the joke association stuck in the language.

But I think the woman singing the song means to say:

Me, I'm no fancy high-society girl

I think this would be the more accurate context to people in Quebec.

Let me know your thoughts ... and thanks for the nice compliment! My French is worse than my German!

And my Italiano ... well, you read il Smutto -- a complete Robot Job, il Smutto employs only robots because they're cheap, you can pay them with just a few volts DC.

patfromch said...

No worries there, I like that interpretation much better

SteveHeath said...

Been a while since I dropped by. I see that Vleeptron is becoming more multi-cultural by the day what with all the furrin' languages I'm readin'

That's good....A recently deceased King O' Pop reminded us that We Is The World (texas version)



patfromch said...

Apparently Vleeptron likes the sound of kebek, so here is Daniel Lanois singing Marie Claire
There was a time when the only pop-oriented station that is broadcasting across our small country (DRS3) was playing this song on heavy rotation for a few weeks.

seckhoff said...

I like to think that the chorus means something like you'd see in old posters on the subway in New York:

All reasonable inquiries answered!

The ending is superb. It goes from "whatever" to "I want a snappy guy."

Vleeptron Dude said...

hiya seckhoff --

yeah, no reasonable offer refused, that captures the sense of it. Thanks!

merde-y as my French is, I just thought this was such a spectacularly funny, rich, human song, what little I could understand on first hearing it drew me into trying to understand all of it. There's a nuancey joke in every line.

I guess you've heard that Kate McG. passed away a few months ago. It's just ripped a big hole in my heart, such a voice and sensibility and talent and joie de vivre is stilled.

So who are ya, where are ya, what are ya, how'd ya bump into Quebecoise songs on Vleeptron?

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