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French pronunciation basics part 3 Posted by on May 16, 2017 in Grammar, Music, Vocabulary

Many words in French end in ‘e’. And while the final ‘e’ can make us pronounce other letters (think petit‘ vs. ‘petite or français‘ vs. ‘française), it is, in itself, usually silent. Usually, but not always!

In poetry, and often in songs (which are, after all, just poems set to music), a final silent ‘e’ often gets pronounced. This is one of the rules of “versification” – the rules that govern poetry in French.

Formal rules of poetry require that un vers (a verse) have a specific number of syllables. In order to properly count those syllables, you need to know the rules for counting. When it comes to terminal ‘e’s, you count (and pronounce) those syllables that end in an ‘e’ if they are followed by a consonant. If they’re followed by another vowel, then you don’t count (or pronounce) them. In songs, the rules are generally less formal, and whether a final (unaccented) ‘e’ is pronounced or not will often demand more on the rhythm which the singer or songwriter wishes to achieve than on the formal rules of versification.

In the song which follows, listen to how the singer pronounces the words âme (soul) (and in particular notice how sometimes the ‘e’ is pronounced, while others it is not), fête (party, celebration), rende (from the verb ‘rendre‘, ‘to return, to give back to’), méprise (‘think poorly of‘, ‘despise‘), demandes (from the verb ‘demander’, ‘to ask for/of), libre (‘free’), ivre (‘drunk’), blesse (from the verb ‘blesser’, ‘to harm, hurt’).

In the south of France, where the language is generally more musical, you’ll encounter this phenomena in spoken French as well.

A toi la fille qui me rend si To you the girl who makes me so
Dur et si tendre Tough and tender
Qui sait m’parler Who knows how to talk to me
Quand j’suis barré When I’m in a bad way
Qu’j’veux rien entendre When I don’t want to hear anything
Quand j’ai le cœur sourd When my heart is deaf
Quand j’ai le cœur lourd When my heart is heavy
Des pluies de peines From the troubles that rain down
Qu’a l’âme trempée dans de l’acier On a soul soaked in iron
Quand j’suis paumé que tout m’enchaîne When I’m lost and overwhelmed
J’ai parfois l’âme prise And my soul is caught
Dans des filets qui me tourmentent In the nets of torment
J’ai parfois l’âme grise And my soul is gray
Et si ce soir, tu me demandes And if this evening you ask
   
Comment ça va, ça va, ça va, ça va How’s it going, going, going, going
Sur ma planète On my planet
J’te répondrai ça va, ça va, ça va I will respond if goes, goes, goes
Comme-ci comme-ça So so
Les bières, les vins que je bois en vain The beers and wines that I drink in vain
N’ont pas le goût de la fête Don’t have a taste of fun
Mais tant qu’on a le cœur qui bat, qui bat But as long as one’s heart continues to beat
   
Ça va, ça va It’s fine, fine
   
A toi l’ami To you the friend
Le seul homme qui m’a tenu la main The only man who held my hand
Quand tous les jours je m’en faisais When every day I was worried
Pour les lendemains About the future days to come
Toi dont je sais que même blessé You who even when hurt
T’es toujours là Is always there
Pour me porter To carry me
Pour abréger To ease
Ma peine jusqu’à c’que je sois léger My pain and make me light
J’ai parfois l’âme en crise I may have the soul in crisis
Ma joie de vivre qu’on me la rende Return my joy of life to me
Mon bonheur me méprise My happiness mocks me
Et si ce soir tu me demandes And this evening if you ask me
   
Refrain Refrain
   
A ceux que j’ai parfois négligé To those who I may have neglected
Peut-être un peu libre Treated perhaps lightly
Pour pas déranger So as not to offend
Moi le naufragé Me the drowning victim
Sur mon bateau ivre On my drifting boat
J’ai pas de bouée I have no buoy
Pas de feu de détresse No flares
Je suis pas doué pour les caresses I’ no good at caresses
Mais si jamais vous m’demandez But if ever you ask me
Quand tout me blesse When everything/everyone else hurts me
   
Comment ça va, ça va, ça va How goes it, goes it, goes it
Sur ma planète On my planet
J’vous répondrai ça va, ça va, ça va I will reply it goes, it goes, it goes
Comme-ci comme-ça So so
Les bières, les vins que je bois en vain The beers and wines that I drink in vain
N’ont pas le goût de la fête Don’t have a taste of fun
Mais tant qu’on a le cœur qui bat, qui bat But as long as one’s heart continues to beat
Ça va, ça va It’s fine, fine
   
Refrain Refrain

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About the Author:Tim Hildreth

Lise: Maybe not always. Paris has ways of making people forget. / Jerry: Paris? No, not this city. It's too real and too beautiful. It never lets you forget anything. It reaches in and opens you wide, and you stay that way. / An American in Paris


Comments:

  1. Beatriz:

    Trés jolie chanson merci

  2. helena:

    J’aime cette chanson!


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