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A real star Posted by on Mar 28, 2017 in Grammar, Music, People, Vocabulary

Céline Dion is surely one of the world’s most successful and well-known French-language singers. Born in the Canadian province of Québec and singing originally exclusively in French, Céline has gone on to international stardom in English and in French, selling over  200 million albums worldwide (making her the best-selling Canadian artist of all time).

Céline’s voix magnifique (magnificent voice) is perfect for this song of hope. I hope you will enjoy it. And if, like me, you enjoy practicing your French with music, a quick follow up to last week’s pronunciation post: I discovered a new radio station (disponible en ligne / available on line) that only plays French hits (no English!). It is a mix of older songs and new hit music. A great place to discover your own new favorite artisits and songs.

 

Un soir sur le bord du chemin One evening on the side of the path
Il y’avait une étoile There was a star
Je l’ai ramassé I picked it (her) up
Elle m’a souri au creux des mains She smiled in my cupped hands
Comme si c’était normal As if all were normal
Je crois qu’elle m’attendait I think she was waiting for me
Je l’ai prise avec moi I took her with me
J’entends souvent sa voix I often hear her voice
   
Tant que je peux je t’éclaire* As long as I can, I will shine for you / light you up
Ouvre les yeux** Open your eyes
Il y’a tant de choses à faire There are so many things to do
Puisque tout est éphémère And since nothing lasts / everything is temporary
On peut faire mieux We can do better
Pas le moment de se taire*** It’s not time for silence / to keep quiet
La vie c’est gratuit, ça va sans dire Life is free, that goes without saying
Tu devrais te resservir You should have another helping / server yourself some more
Tant qu’on éclaire on espère As long as we shine we have hope
   
L’étoile a si bien éclairé The star lit up so well
Les pensées ténébreuses The dark thoughts
Qui me ralentissaient That slowed me down
L’étoile a si bien expliqué The star explained so well
Que chaque minute est précieuse That each minute is precious
Pas de temps pour les regrets No time for regrets
Et tant qu’elle sera là And as long as she is here
Nous chanterons à deux voix We will sing together / with two voices
   
Tant que je peux je t’éclaire As long as I can, I will shine for you / light you up
Ouvre les yeux Open your eyes
Il y’a tant de choses à faire There are so many things to do
Puisque tout est éphémère And since nothing lasts / everything is temporary
On peut faire mieux We can do better
Pas le moment de se taire It’s not time for silence / to keep quiet
La vie c’est gratuit, ça va sans dire Life is free, that goes without saying
Tu devrais te resservir You should have another helping / server yourself some more
Tant qu’on éclaire on espère As long as we shine we have hope
   
Si à mon tour je t’éclaire If in my time / my turn I can shine for you
Ouvre les yeux Open your eyes
Être ton étoile je sais faire**** Being your start is something I know how to do
Nous créerons cette lumière We will create this light
C’est contagieux It’s contagieuse
Tant qu’on éclaire on espère As long as we shine we have hope
   
Tant que je peux je t’éclaire As long as I can, I will shine for you / light you up
Ouvre les yeux Open your eyes
Il y’a tant de choses à faire There are so many things to do
Puisque tout est éphémère And since nothing lasts / everything is temporary
On peut faire mieux We can do better
Pas le moment de se taire It’s not time for silence / to keep quiet
La vie c’est gratuit, ça va sans dire Life is free, that goes without saying
Tu devrais te resservir You should have another helping / server yourself some more
Tant qu’on éclaire on espère As long as we shine we have hope

 

* ‘éclairer’ literally means ‘to light up’. The verb ‘briller’ means ‘to shine, glisten’. Les étoiles brillent dans le ciel, mais le soleil éclaire la Terre. (The stars shine in the sky, but the sun lights up/illuminates the Earth.) Note that as in English, la Terre (Earth) with a capital letter is the planet, la terre (earth) with a lower case first letter is soil, dirt, earth.
** Note that in French, you do not, as a general rule, use possessive adjectives with parts of the body. So you would say, for example, ‘J’ai mal à la jambe.’ to indicate that your leg hurts and not ‘J’ai mal à ma jambe.’
***
The verb ‘se taire’ means ‘to keep quiet’ or ‘to hush up’. It shows up in the less polite and more direct expression ‘Tais-toi’ which can be interpreted as ‘be quiet’ but really is closer in practical use to ‘shut up!’ (You’ll also hear ‘la ferme’, ‘shut it!‘). The title of a 1958 French film, Sois belle et tais-toi (Be beautiful but shut up) has, sadly, become an expression of disdain and sexism towards the role of woman in many languages and cultures.
**** Note that while the Académie française is all for, the use of accents on capital letters in French is really only required in two situations and you’ll often see capital letters missing their accents in a whole range of settings and situations. When must you use accents? 1. If the absence would change the meaning or lead to confusion, and 2. with proper names.

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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