French Language Blog

French Music – What happened to the shop girl? Posted by on May 15, 2018 in Culture, Grammar, Music, Vocabulary

Last week I introduced you to the French singer Bénabar, and through him, to la petite vendeuseAs I mentioned, Bénabar’s songs tell stories. And fortunately for us, sometimes those stories se retrouvent et se rejoignent (find each other and connect) in other songs.

Photo by from Pexels

Reminder: YouTube allows you to slow down the playback of videos. If you click the settings button you can choose to play any video back at 3/4 or 1/2 (or even 1/4!) speed. It’s a handy way to build up your ability to understand at full speed.

Un jeune vigile A young security guard
embauche en civil au grand magasin  Begins his day in his street clothes at the department store
Il se déguise en cerbère, He dresses up as a Cerberus
sort du vestiaire talkie à la main  Comes out of the dressing room with his walkie-talkie in hand
Il est un peu fragile le jeune vigile He’s a little fragile, this young security guard
et de loin on dirait  From far / over here one would say
Qu’il est calme et serein, qu’il a peur de rien, c’est pas vrai  That he is calm and at peace, that he’s not afraid of anything, that’s not true
Il a de l’ambition He’s ambitious
et s’inquiète à raison de ce que sera sa vie  And nervous with reason about what his life will be
Coach sportif “ce serait mon kiffe”**, comme il dit  Sports coach “that would be the bomb” as he says
Refrain Chorus
Il aperçoit une vendeuse à la gaieté trompeuse He glimpses a seemingly happy sales girl
qui vend des sacs  Who sells bags
Lui les sacs il les fouille Him, he searches through bags
et quand il patrouille c’est pour qu’elle le remarque  And when we patrols it’s so that she will notice him
Refrain Chorus
Gracile et gracieuse la petite vendeuse Slender and graceful the little sales girl
son cœur a ravi  Captured his heart
Il la regarde et repère dans l’allée He looks at her and catches sight in the aisle
un pervers qui la regarde aussi  Of a pervert who is looking at her too
Refrain Chorus
Il a chassé l’importun qui He chases off the intruder who
fuit comme un lapin, Flees like a rabbit,
la vendeuse lui sourit  The sales girl smiles at him
Princesse sauvée par son preux chevalier qui rougit  Princess saved by her gallant knight who blushes
Refrain Chorus
Le pervers est repassé bonnet sur la tête The pervert is back hat on his head
il l’a même pas coursé  He doesn’t even bother to give chase
La vendeuse en congé, The little sales girl is on leave
pas de raison qu’il s’inquiète, ça l’a fait rigoler  No reason to worry, it even makes him chuckle
Son humeur est joyeuse***  He’s in a happy mood
car la petite vendeuse il la retrouve ce soir  Because he’s meeting up with the little sales girl tonight
Y’ aura des hauts des bas, ils seront heureux ou pas, on peut pas savoir  There will be highs and lows, they’ll be happy or not, no one can say
Y’ aura des hauts des bas, ils seront heureux je l’sais pas mais je veux le croire  There will be highs and lows, if they will be happy I don’t know but I want to believe

* Talkie-walkie is the French term for what in English we call a walkie-talkieVa savoir pourquoi! (Who knows why!) According to this blog, it might come from a simple inversion / extension of the way French structures noun/adjective pairs (remember, the adjective generally comes after the noun it modifies as described in this post) but nothing is sure. Compare the following examples in French to their English:
un cheval de course (lit. a horse of race) = a race horse
un course de cheval (lit. a race of horse) = a horse race
** ‘kiffe’ (from the verb ‘kiffer’; slang imported from Arabic) means ‘something you love’, ‘to like, to love’.
What’s happening here? According to John, possessive adjectives are supposed to help us understand the genre of nouns in French. But if humeur were masculine (as the son would seem to indicate), then we would say “son humeur est joyeux“. The use of ‘joyeuse’  though tells us that ‘humeur’ is actually feminine. While you normally would find sa before a feminine noun, when that noun starts with a vowel or a silent h, as humeur does, then you need to use son (or mon/ton).

Pour en apprendre plus (to learn more about it)

One fun thing that attracted me to this album and these songs is that they produced a series of short videos featuring real people. You can hear from a real vendeuse here and un vrai vigile here.

Photo by from Pexels (CC0).

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About the Author: Tim Hildreth

Since my first trip to France at 16, I have been a passionate francophile. I love the language, food, music, art, people, and more that make France and la Francophonie in general such an amazing part of our global community. Having lived in France and studied the language and culture for over 35 years, it is my great pleasure to be able to share a little bit of my deep love with you through this blog.