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Singing Happy Blue Songs – Moana In French Posted by on Jan 31, 2019 in Culture, Music, Vocabulary

It’s no secret how much I think taking a moment to chanter une chanson (sing a song) is great for practicing French. What may be a bit of surprise, even more than singing along to French pop songs, is how I often use les chansons de Disney as well!

Image from Pixabay. Licensed under CC0.

Mon film préféré de Disney (my favorite Disney film), at least for the past few years, has to be Vaiana (the hit movie Moana is titled Vaiana en France). It’s a beautiful film that’s amazingly animated, but more interesting for language learners is how les paroles (the lyrics), like with all Disney movies, are carefully translated into many languages, including of course le français.

What makes this doubly special is how knowing la chanson in English only helps get you part of the way. Often les paroles are slightly altered to better reflect the culture or better fit les sons (the sounds) of the language.

Getting back to Vaiana and its music, ma chanson préférée du film really shows how different la même chanson can be in French and English. Le titre (the title) in English is How Far I’ll Go and the famous refrain (chorus) everyone remembers goes like this:

See the line where the sky meets the sea? It calls me
And no one knows, how far it goes

Tu vois la ligne où le ciel rencontre la mer ? Elle m’appelle
Et personne ne sait jusqu’où elle va

Cependant (however), the same song en français is called Le bleu lumière (the blue light), which seems odd at first glance for un anglophone like myself. There’s an easy connection to make between l’océan and le couleur bleu, but there’s a deeper cultural aspect as well. En français, le couleur bleu is not associated with sadness, but instead brings up more positive feelings of being relaxed and at peace with the world.

There are smaller traps in les paroles that can catch un anglophone off guard if they are thinking in English. Common mistakes like forgetting that ignorer can mean to ignore but it also means to not know or how l’histoire can mean both history or story. These easy to mix up words are not always clear, even with context, but when that’s done on purpose, it adds new meaning to les paroles that can be lost in translation.

Ignorer – To ignore, to not know
L’histoire – History, story

Take a moment and sing along to Le bleu lumière and have some fun practicing French!

Voici la chanson avec les paroles et une traduction anglaise (here’s the song with lyrics and an English translation):

Le bleu lumière
The blue light

Le bleu du ciel n’est pas le bleu de la mer,
Ce bleu que moi je préfère,
Sans vraiment savoir pourquoi
J’aimerais tant rester fidèle à ma terre
Oublier le vent éphémère
J’ai essayé tant de fois

The blue of the sky is not the blue of the sea
The blue I prefer
Not really knowing why
I’d wish so much to stay true to my land
Forget the ephemeral wind
I’ve tried so many times

J’ai beau dire « je reste, je n’ partirai pas »
Chacun de mes gestes, chacun de mes pas
Me ramène sans cesse, malgré les promesses
Vers ce bleu lumière

I may well say “I will stay, I won’t leave”
Every move of mine, every step of mine
Leads me incessantly back, despite all of my promises
Toward that blue light

L’horizon où la mer touche le ciel et m’appelle
Cache un trésor que tous ignorent
C’est le vent, doucement, qui se lève et me révèle
Le bleu de l’eau
Si je pars, j’irai plus loin et toujours plus haut

The horizon where the sea touches the sky and calls me
Hides a treasure nobody is aware of
It’s the wind rising gently and showing me
The blue of the water
If I leave, I’ll go further away, higher and higher

Il faut aimer mon île et son histoire
Pour ceux qui veulent encore y croire
Oublier le temps qui passe
Il faut aimer mon île et son histoire
Et garder encore l’espoir,
Un jour je trouverai ma place

I need love my island and its history
For those who still want to believe it
Forget the time going by
I need love my island and its history
And keep guarding hope,
Someday I’ll find my place

Je peux les guider, les rendre plus grands
Les accompagner, je prendrai le temps
Mais cette voix cachée pense tout autrement
Je ne comprends pas

I can lead them, make them greater
Guide them, I’ll take time
But this hidden voice has a totally different mind
I don’t understand

Le soleil vient danser sur la mer éternelle
Mais tous ignorent ses reflets d’or
Elle m’attend sous un tapis de lumière, la mer m’appelle
Moi, je veux voir
Derrière les nuages, des nouveaux rivages

The sun comes and dances on the eternal sea
But everybody ignores1 its golden glare
It’s waiting for me under a carpet of light, the sea is calling for me
I want to see
New shores behind the clouds

L’horizon où la mer touche le ciel et m’appelle
Cache un trésor que tous ignorent
C’est le vent doucement qui se lève et me révèle
Que j’ai le droit d’aller là-bas

The horizon where the sea touches the sky and calls me
Hides a treasure nobody is aware of
It’s the wind rising gently and telling me
I’ve got a right to go over there

Translation from LyricsTranslate.

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About the Author:John Bauer

John Bauer is an enthusiast for all things language and travel. He currently lives in France where he's doing his Master's. John came to France four years ago knowing nothing about the language or the country, but through all the mistakes over the years, he's started figuring things out.


Comments:

  1. Maxime:

    Hi everyone,

    As a plain vanilla French myself, I’ve just come accross this great blog while making a quick research about the origins and existence of any potential resonances outside the French borders of our famous inside joke “Where is Brian?”.

    If you allow me a comment on this interesting article, please just note that the expression “le bleu lumière” is also an absolutely unique and 100% poetic construction that was made up for this very song (which I did not know until now, having not seen this film yet).

    In this very case, “le bleu lumière”, because of its intrinsic poetic construction, sparks the imagination of everyone and could therefore in practice refer to so many different things depending on the individuals, even though the meaning of this expression would of course be in any case very largely based on what the concepts of the blue color (“la couleur bleue”) and of light (“la lumière”) generally inspire to French people. In this respect, I note your interesting reference to what the blue color is generally associated to in the French culture, which I think is indeed very true but which also made me simultaneously realize that the blue color was then more typically associated to sadness in the US culture, which I had no clue about. Just for the record, I’d say grey would then typically be the color associated to sadness in the French culture, even though I haven’t consciously studied this subject but just commonly experienced it in practice as a French guy living in France.

    But just to get back to the expression “le bleu lumière”, please note that its translation into “the blue light” is highly misleading to me, if not purely incorrect. While the English expression “the blue light” means in and of itself something that all English native speakers can easily and immediately understand / grasp and visualize, the French expression “le bleu lumière” (consisting of these 3 words “le”, “bleu” and “lumière” put in this very order, where both “bleu” and “lumière” appear to be nouns) will immediately look and sound extremely unusual and even incorrect to the eyes and ears of French people, outside of any poetic context like the one of this song for which this expression was – in all likelihood – made up. Except in this song, and even though I’m not a linguist, I do not think I’d take too much risk in saying that the English expression “the blue light” will indeed ALWAYS be translated into “la lumière bleue” (where “lumière” is the noun and “bleue” is the adjective (knowing that “bleue” here also includes an “e” at the end because this adjective characterizes the noun “lumière” which is feminine in French)).

    As a poetic construction, I’de be tempted to say that the expression “le bleu lumière” can’t therefore be properly translated at all. Just like any poetic construction made in English or in any specific language can’t – at least in my mind – be properly translated into any other language without altering its evocative power or symbolic significance.

    To sum up: Apart from any poetic context like in this song, the English expression “the blue light” should in my opinion be absolutely always translated into the French expression “la lumière bleue” and vice versa.

    • John Bauer:

      @Maxime Salut Maxime ! Merci beaucoup pour votre commentaire !

      When I wrote out The blue light I was first thinking about what English speakers would find easy to remember, but you are completely right! In fact, your comment inspired my post today and I loved reading all you had to say about le bleu lumière 🙂

      Lost In The Deep Blue French – Translating Le Bleu Lumière

      • Maxime:

        @John Bauer Bonjour John !

        Wow, I did not expect my comment above to inspire your new post but am very glad it did.

        This blog is great and languages can definitely be an unending and fascinating field of study.

        Keep up the good work!


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