Mia – “Mein Freund”

29.04.2009 at 4:12 pm (Uncategorized)

Mia is my new band obsession, and this song is simply lovely. Here is my translation following the lyrics. One interesting note is that although I used litereally “Mein Freund” to mean “My Friend,” Freund can have multiple meanings, including also lover, boyfriend, or husband. The charm to this song is that it remains the slightest bit ambiguous.

Mia – “Mein Freund”

Du siehst mich fragend an, mein Freund
Dein Lachen wirkt verkehrt, mein Freund
Weil du nicht anders kannst, mein Freund
Weil du es so wählst

Der gute Altertanz, mein Freund
Mit Vorsicht zu genießen, mein Freund
Wer sich im Kreise dreht, mein Freund
Ja der hat es so gewählt
Komm her und tanz mit mir
Hin und wieder mal
Da Di Da Da Da Dam Da Da
Komm her und tanz mit mir

Sag mir woran du denkst, mein Freund
Wenn die Musik erklingt, mein Freund
Die dich zum Heulen bringt, mein Freund
Weil du es so willst
Woher kommt dein Verdacht, mein Freund
Die Takte seien erzählt, mein Freund
Lies mir vom Munde ab, mein Freund
Sind es nur wenn du’s so willst

Komm her und tanz mit mir,
Hin und wieder mal, (x5)
Hin und her

Mein Lieber Freund und Kupferstecher
Du hast ja Recht
Vielleicht auch nicht, ich weiß es nicht
Ich weiß nur eins
Ich kenne dich doch gar nicht anders
Wie wäre das?
Du legst deine Hand, gekonnt in meine Hand
und mir gehört der letze Tanz

Komm schon her und tanz mit mir,
Hin und wieder mal, (x5)
Hin und her
Komm her und tanz mit mir

Es fängt gerade an,mein Freund
Dein Lachen wirkt verkehrt,mein Freund
Weil du nicht anders kannst,mein Freund
Weil du es so wählst



(Italics indicate awkward phrasing. Feel free to comment!)

You see me enquiring, my friend
Your laughter acts as a communication, my friend
Because you can’t do anything else, my friend
Because you chose it like this
The good old dance, my friend
With a pinch of salt, my friend
Whoever spins in circles, my friend
Yes, he chose it

Come here and dance with me
Here and there again
Da Di Da Da Da Dam Da Da
Come here and dance with me

Tell me what you’re thinking about, my friend
When the music sounds, my friend
Which brings you to tears, my friend
Because you want it so
Where  does your suspicion come from, my friend
The beats are told, my friend
Read my lips, my friend
They are only so when you want it so

Come here and dance with me
Here and there again (x5)
Back and forth

Now then my dear old friend**
Yes, you are right
Also maybe not, I don’t know
I know only once
I know you not at all differently
How would that be?
You lay your hand, skillfully, in my hand
And the last dance belongs to me

Come here and dance with me
Here and there again (x5)
Back and forth
Come here and dance with me

It has begun, my friend
Your laughter acts as a communication, my friend
Because you can’t do anything else, my friend
Because you chose it like this

Translation notes:

(Please note that “Mein Freund und Kupferstecher” literally means “My friend and engraver.” It is meant to signify something closer to someone who is both a friend and a person whose morals fluctuate to benefit someone else)

I’m seeking a good alternate phrasing for “acts as a communication.” I think she’s trying to say that the person’s laughter serves as an answer to her enquiry because the person is unable to communicate with words, but I have so far not found any satisfactory synonyms for “communication.”

I hope you enjoyed! I love this song because it feels like she’s describing an argument between friends (or lovers?) as an “old dance,” one performed over and over since time began. Your thoughts and comments welcome.

Don’t forget that I take requests for translations. I would love to tackle that song in german or french that you always wanted translated!

*** I spoke with my old German teacher, and he suggest that “Mein Liebe Freund und Kupferstecher” is actually a way of calling someone an “a$$hole” or something like that, indicating perhaps hostility, or perhaps the way we call one another “jerk” when we’re frustrated with them but don’t actually hate them? I feel like this still is contextual and it depends on how you interpret the song’s meaning. Just fyi!


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Easter flowers

09.04.2009 at 5:00 pm (Current Events) (, )

Following the traditional Christian Calendar, this week is considered “Holy Week,” the week before Christian Churches celebrate Easter, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. In recognition of this upcoming holiday, I thought we should study some interesting aspects of culture and vocab in French and German.


One thing I found most fascinating is that my favourite flower, the daffodil, does not have its own name in German. Rather, it is known collectively as “Osterblumen,” or “Easter flowers.”

In French, the word for Easter is Pâques, which comes from the word for “Passover” in Hebrew.


To be continued…

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Current Events – Economy vocab!

06.04.2009 at 4:32 pm (Current Events) ()

Well, everybody else is doing it… It’s time for some new French words important to current events.

Bailout – Renflouage

Economy – Economie

Funds – Fonds

Dollars – Dollaires americaines

Mutual fund – Société d’investissement à capital variable

Broker – Courtier (haha)

Bank robber – Volaire de banque

Bank run – Panique bancaire

Recession – la Récession

Depression – la Dépression

Recovery (of economy) – Reprise

Change of career – Changement de carière

Millionaire – Millionaire (who’da thought?)


I hope these words help you on your path of the “reprise” of “l’economie!”

Bonne chance!


And don’t forget translations requested to be posted on this blog are free! Now how much is free these days?

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It’s just an old-fashioned death story

23.03.2009 at 4:44 pm (Literature Translation) ()

I’ve begun translating a book, only to realize that a good portion of it is written in dialect from 1937 trying to pretend to be medieval.  Here’s what I have so far… have fun laughing.

Der Ackermann aus Böhmen – Johannes von Tepl


The Farmer from Bohemia – Johannes von Tepl


The First Chapter


Grim extinguisher of everyone, baneful real of all  (werlte), free murder of all men, his death, be it cursed! God, (ewer tirmer), hates you, (vnselden) increase lives with us, unlucky house commits violence to you…



Yeah, I think I’m missing something. I think I better do some more research into old German before attempting this some more. Mostly because von Tepl is making up the spelling of words, and I’m trying to figure out what on Earth he’s even trying to put into German, plus he’s not capitalizing all nouns, which I never realized was so helpful.


I hop youe hade a goodely Gigl ovr mye forrey into Older Gerrman.

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Mia – “Tanz der Molekuele”

22.03.2009 at 5:38 pm (Lyric Translation, Music) ()

Mia – Tanz Der Molekuele (The Dance of the Molecules)

Songtext “Tanz der Moleküle”

Ich bin hier
Weil ich hier hin gehör’
Von Kopf bis Fuß bin ich verliebt
Du bist mutig
Weil du mir Treue schwörst
Zwischen all’ den schönen Souvenirs

Sprich mich an
In dem Takt
Der dieses Lied zu unserm Hit macht
Brich den Beat
Mit Gefühl
Du bist so schön weil du lachst

Mein Herz tanzt
Und jedes Molekül bewegt sich

Glaubst du wie ich daran
Dass alles gut sein kann
Solange wir zusammen sind
Brich das Eis
Mit dem Schritt
Der jedes Atmen zum Wagnis macht
Halt mich fest
Mit Gefühl
Es ist so schön wenn du lachst

Mein Herz tanzt
Und jedes Molekül bewegt sich

Mein Herz tanzt
UNd jedes Molekül bewegt sich

Und jedes Positon entlädt sich

Mein Herz tanzt
Und jedes Molekül bewegt sich

Und mein Herz tanzt
Und jede Faser biegt und dreht sich

Mein Herz tanzt
Und mein Herz tanzt
Mein Herz tanzt

Mein Herz…



I am here because
I belong here
I’m in love from head to toe
You are bold because you
swore true love to me
Among all these beautiful memories
Ask me in the
rhythm of this song
Made by our Hit

Break the beat,
with feeling
You are so cute because you laugh

Oo oo, my heart dances
Oo oo, And every molecule is moving

Do you believe,
like me,
That everything can be good
As long as we’re together?

Break the ice
With the step
That makes every breath an adventure
Hold me close with feeling
It’s co cute when you laugh

Oo oo, my heart dances
Oo oo, And every molecule is moving
And every positron’s discharging
Oo oo, my heart dances
Oo oo, And every molecule is moving
Oo oo, my heart dances
Oo oo, And every fiber bends and turns

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Le Horla 02

13.03.2009 at 11:27 pm (Uncategorized)

Le Horla – par Guy de Maupassant

10 mai – J’ai un peu de fièvre depuis quelques jours; je me sens souffrant, ou plutôt je me sens triste.

D’où viennent ces influences mystérieuses qui changent en découragement notre bonheur et notre confiance en détresse? On dirait que l’air, l’air invisible est plein d’inconnaissables Puissances, dont nous subissons les voisinages mystérieux. Je m’éveille plein de gaieté, avec des envies de chanter dans la gorge. — Pourquoi? — Je descends le long de leau; et soudain, après une courte promenade, je rentre désolé, comme si quelque malheur m’attendait chez moi. — Pourquoi? — Est-ce un frisson de froid qui, frôlant ma peau, a ébranlé mes nerfs et assombri mon âme? Est-ce la forme des nuages,ou la couleur du jour, la couleur des choses, si variable, qui, passant par mes yeux, a troublée ma pensée? Sait-on? Tout ce qui nous entoure, tout ce que nous voyons sans le regarder, tout ce que nous frôlons sans le connaître, tout ce que nous touchons sans le palper, tout ce que nous rencontrons sans le distinguer, a sur nous, sur nos organs et, par eux, sur nos idées, sur notre cœur lui-même, des effets rapides, surprenants et inexplicables?

(More to be typed in French)

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Le Horla

05.03.2009 at 6:00 pm (Uncategorized)

Given that I adore Guy de Maupassant’s short story, “Le Horla” and that his text is in the public domain, I would like to present a beginning of my translation of it so that it is more accessible to others. My French edition is 56 pages total, so this will be an extended project. Also, I know there are already translations, but I hope to show how I see this story, and maybe spark some discussion over it and its translation. I’ll post the french and English and see what we come up with. Please note that I will do these in installments, so if I don’t have time to finish my translation, check back in a day or two for the finished result. Go!

Le Horla – par Guy de Maupassant

8 maiQuelle journée admirable! J’ai passé toute la matinée étendu sur l’herbe, devant ma maison, sous l’énorme platane qui la couvre, l’abrite et l’ombrage tout entière. J’aime ce pays, et j’aime y vivre parce que j’y ai mes racines, ces profondes et délicates racines, qui attachent un homme à la terre où sont nés et morts ses aïeux, qui l’attachent àà ce qu’on mange, aux usages comme aux nourritures, aux locution locales, aux intonations des paysans, aux odeurs du sol, des villages et de l’air lui-même. ce qu’on pense et

J’aime ma maison où j’ai grandi. De mes fenêtres, je vois la Seine qui coule, le long de mon jardin, derrière la route, presque chez moi, la grande et large Seine, qui va de Rouen au Havre, couverte de bateaux qui passent.

À gauche, là-bas, Rouen, la vaste ville aux toits bleus, sous le peuple pointu des clochers gothiques. Ils sont innombrables, frêles ou larges, dominés par la flèche de fonte de la cathédrale, et pleins de cloches qui sonnent dans l’air bleu des belles matinées, jetant jusqu’à moi leur doux et lointain bourdonnement de fer, leur chant d’airain que la brise m’apporte, tantôt plus fort et tantôt plus affaibli, suivant qu’elle s’éveille ou s’assoupit.

Comme il faisait bon ce matin!

Vers onze heures, un long convoi de navires, traînés par un remorqueur, gros comme une mouche, et qui râlait de peine en vomissant une fumée épaisse, défila devant ma grille.

Apès deux goélettes anglaises, dont le pavillon rouge ondoyait sur le ciel, venait un superbe trois-mâts brésilien, tout blanc, admirablement propre et luisant. Je le saluai, je ne sais pourquoi, tant ce navire me fit plaisir à voir.


The Outside-There – by Guy de Maupassant

8 May -What an exquisite day! I spent the entire morning stretched out on the grass in front of my house, under the enormous plane tree that covers it with the shelter and shadow entirely. I love this country, and I love living here because here I have my roots, these deep and delicate roots which attach a man to the earth where his ancestors were born and died, which attach to what one thinks and what one eats, to uses of food, to the colloquialisms, to the intonations of the locals, to the scents of the soil, the villages and the expression of oneself.I love my house where I grew up. From my windows, I see the Seine that flows, the length of my garden, behind the street, nearly at my home, the great and broad Seine, which goes from Rouen to Havre, covered with boats that pass by.

To the left, over there, Rouen, the vaste city of blue rooves, under the pointed people of gothic bells. They are unnumerable, frail or large, dominated by the cast-iron arrow of the cathedral, and full of bells which sound in the blue air of the morning bells, casting their softness to me and distant droning of iron, their antique bronze song brought to me on the breeze, sometimes louder and sometimes weaker, following which it awakens or dulls.

What lovely weather this morning!

Towards eleven, a long convoy of ships, dragged along by a tugboat, large as a riverboat, which groans with difficulty, vomiting out a thick fume, parading past my gate.

After two english schooners, their red pavillion swaying under the sun, follows a superb Brazilian three-master, all white, admirably proper and shining. I saluted, I don’t know why, perhaps because I was pleased to see the boat.


End of first translated part.

I’m still not satisfied with the title. Your thoughts? It could be “The Out-There?” Maupassant’s title is a play on the word “Horror” and “outside” and “over there.”

Also pardon the wierd formatting that happened with this part. I promise the next part will look normal!

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Colour your World!

03.03.2009 at 5:58 pm (Uncategorized)

If I asked you to list four different words for “brown,” it would certainly give you pause. “How many different ways do I NEED to say brown?” you might ask yourself. Well, I wouldn’t answer that. But I would point out that frequently we limit ourselves in reference to colours by simply adding “light” or “dark” or “medium” or “-ish”. While French supplies “clair” and “foncé” and “moyen” for light and dark and medium, French goes far beyond into specific browns. Let’s examine!

To start off, we’ve got plain old generic brown: “Brun.”

Basané – “swarthy” (literally), meaning dark-skinned. It can also be used for tanned

Bronzé – “bronzed” or tanned

Bistre – yellowish brown

Chatain – chesnut brown

Marron – brown, generally chestnut coloured

Sombre – dark-coloured

Terreux – ashen

Cuivré – brassy or bronze colour

Doré – this has multiple meanings. For hair = golden, for skin = tanned, for bread = golden brown, and for a frame = gilded.


The same goes for any colour in French (and really in most any language).

So please don’t short change your vocabulary by limiting yourself to ROYGBIV(BBW?).

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Animal Farm: It’s raining Cats and Dogs!

26.02.2009 at 5:53 pm (Uncategorized)

Hallelujah, it’s raining cats and dogs! Okay, these words don’t fit as well. :)

Today’s post will be brief, but I hope to go back and expand it in the next few days.

Bulleted points:

  • In France, some idiomatic expressions transfer just fine:

Quand le chat n’est pas là les souris dansent. (When the cat’s away, the mice will play (or dance.))

  • However, many expressions which contain other animals in English replace them with cats:

…ne pas réveiller le chat qui dort. (Rather than letting sleeping dogs lie, you leave the CATS alone in French!)

avoir un chat dans la gorge. (Francophones end up with cats in their throat, rather than frogs!)

avoir d’autres chats à fouetter. (And rather than having other fish to fry, french-speakers have other cats whip. Yikes!)

  • In French it does not rain cats and dogs, but rather battleaxes.
  • Rather than asking if a cat’s got your tongue, one can admit to being tongue-tied by simply “giving [your] tongue to the cat.” “Je donne ma langue au chat.”
  • Always be careful when using “chat” as a term of endearment, because while “mon petit chat” is a cute way of calling someone darling, try to avoid calling someone “chatte,” the female form of ‘cat,’ because it can be the equivalent of calling a woman a slut (or worse!)
  • An expression unique to French is, “Les chiens ne font pas des chats,” literally “Dogs don’t make cats.” The meaning here is that children are like their parents and can have multiple uses, including insults (“That kid’s dad is wierd. Well, you know dogs don’t make cats…”) or compliments (“Wow, that kid is two grades ahead? Well, dogs don’t make cats!”). It’s similar to a favourite phrase of mine that directly translates: “Tel père, tel fils,” or “Like father, like son.”
  • If you want to play tag in French, you can play “le chat.” Like cat and mouse? But if you want to play hide and seek, be careful because in France they play “cache-cache,” which means “hide-hide.” Having not played it, I can’t vouch for whether anyone actually comes looking for you eventually!
  • In English, “A cat may look at a king” but in French, “Un chien regarde bien un eveque” (A dog may look at a bishop).
  • Where dogs are concerned, having dogs seems to be an attractive feature… The term “avoir du chien,” literally means “to have some dog” but means a person is attractive, or has a certain “something.” Please don’t call anyone a dog, though!!
  • Wolves are related to dogs, and where one would use the term “speak of the devil (and he appears),”  in French one would “speak of the wolf” (parler du loup) “and you see his tail” (et on voie le queue.)


In German, one does not battle his inner demons, but rather his inner pig-dog: “Den inneren Schweinehund bekämpfen“.

And one who is well known is compared to a colourful dog: bekannt wie ein bunter Hund.

That’s all for the moment, and I’ll be updating this article in the next few days.


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Animal Farm: Holy Cow!

26.02.2009 at 1:00 am (Weekly Feature) (, )

Animal Farm Round 2: COWS!

Today’s animal of choice will be those charming creatures that are totally not smart, sometimes eat kittens (yes, they do), and pretty much hang around chewing grass and making milk or more cows.

Given the importance of cheese to French culture, it can only be assumed that cows make up an integral part of their lifestyle and cultural values (cowtural values? so punny…).  Even Sarkozy recognized their importance when he embraced some cows at the 2009 Paris Agricultural Fair. Among some famous breeds are the Normande (from Normandy) the Parthenaise (from Brittany), and the Piedmontaise.

Cows are the subject of many a saying in French, including, “ Ce n’est pas la vache qui crie le plus fort qui fait le plus de lait,” which translates to “It is not the cow that bellows the loudest that makes the most milk,” intimating the meaning that many who speak the loudest don’t carry through with their words.  Another common phrase using cows which refers to the weather is as follows:  “Il pleut comme vache qui pisse,” eg “It’s raining like a peeing cow” (put as delicately as possible.) In québecois, there is another weather/cow saying, “Il vente à écorner les boeufs” meaning that the wind is so severe as to blow the horns off bulls (which count as cows for our purposes here.) (I don’t think you really want me to do an article about the differences between bulls and cows. :) )

As a rule, never call anyone a “vache.” Unless you wish to be punched in the nose, of course. Then again, it would be pretty rude to call someone a cow in english, so it’s common sense, although from exposure to French and French insults, the use of “vache” seems to be a little more intense in French when used for name-calling. You can, however, exclaim “la vache!” when surprised. Don’t you get all snooty at wierd French expressions, because “Holy Cow!” although archaic, was a common English idiomatic expression. (It is supposed to come from a reference to the golden calf of biblical fame, but it’s all Greek to me anyhow.)

Weirdly enough, you can also use cow as an adverb. “Vachement” has the same colloquial usage as “really,” and can be used as in “Vachement?!”  “Reeeeaaally?” or “Il est vachement beau,” which means “He’s really good looking,” but literally “He’s cowingly good looking.” You got me on the etymological roots for this one.

As for German, Cow (Kuh) also ought not to be used in name-calling as it is considered VERY offensive, but does appear in such expressions as “Ich bin keine Kuh, die man melken kann,” which means literally: “I am not a cow that one can milk,” eg “I’m not made of money.” Another gem is “Das geht auf keine Kuhhaut” which means “That doesn’t go on a cowhide!” (it actually is used to refer to something that is incredible.)

For your verification, French cows (les vaches français) say “Meuh.”

You want to know what a Kuh says? Well it’s obviously Muh. :)

Although I saw somewhere that they’re moving all the cows out of western Europe into Russia. You know, they should all be near Moscow. MosCOW. Get it? Yeah? Yeah? Yeah. Okay, I’m done.

Don’t forget Babybel Laughing Cow Cheese! La Vache qui rit!


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