French Language Blog

Thank you! Please check your inbox for your confirmation email.
You must click the link in the email to verify your request.

Third time is charming Posted by on Jan 24, 2017 in Culture, Grammar, Music, People, Vocabulary

Over the last few weeks I’ve been sharing some of my favorite French songs with you to help build vocabulary and pronunciation. While the 80’s where the heyday of rich story songs, all the great story songs aren’t from then. This week, a song that goes back a little bit further which many will recognize as it was a song that found success in a number of languages and a number of forms.

Le tombeau de Dalida au Cimitière de Montmartre [Dalida’s tomb at the Montmartre cemetary] – By Thomon – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48249144

Dalida (née Yolanda Cristina Gigliotti) was an Italian singer born and raised in Egypt who achieved global success singing in more than ten languages . . . including, of course, French! This version of Itsi Bitsi Bikini is from relatively early in her career (which spanned 30 years and included selling more than 170 million albums worldwide) and happier times. Sadly, despite her global success, the end of her life was less joyous. Dalida took her own life in 1987. She is buried at the Montmartre cemetary in Paris’s 18th arrondissement. And in a cemetery with it’s share of illustrious “guests” and interesting tombeaux (tombs)*, her’s must surely be one of the most interesting.

Sur une plage il y avait une belle fille On a beach there was a pretty girl
Qui avait peur d’aller prendre son bain Who was afraid to go bathe (take her bath)
Elle craignait** de quitter sa cabine She fretted over / was worried about leaving her changing cabin
Elle tremblait de montrer au voisin She trembled (at the thought) of showing her neighbor
Un deux trois elle tremblait de montrer quoi ? One two three she trembled (at the thought) of showing what ?
   
Son petit itsi bitsi tini ouini, tout petit, petit, bikini Her little itsy bitsy teeny weeny, tiny little (very little) bikini
Qu’elle mettait pour la première fois That she was wearing for the first time
Un itsi bitsi tini ouini, tout petit, petit, bikini A itsy bitsy teeny weeny, tiny little bikini
Un bikini rouge et jaune à p’tits pois*** A red and yellow polka dot bikini
Un deux trois voilà ce qu’il arriva One two three here’s what came to pass (occurred, or happened)
   
Elle ne songeait qu’à quitter sa cabine She could only think about leaving her changing cabin
Elle s’enroula dans son peignoir de bain She wrapped herself in her bathing gown
Car elle craignait de choquer ses voisines**** She worried over shocking her (female) neighbors
Et même aussi de gêner ses voisins And also even about troubling her (male) neighbors
Un deux trois elle craignait de montrer quoi ? One two three she worried about showing what ?
   
Son petit itsi bitsi tini ouini, tout petit, petit, bikini Her little itsy bitsy teeny weeny, tiny little (very little) bikini
Qu’elle mettait pour la première fois That she was wearing for the first time
Un itsi bitsi tini ouini, tout petit, petit, bikini A itsy bitsy teeny weeny, tiny little bikini
Un bikini rouge et jaune à p’tits pois A red and yellow polka dot bikini
Un deux trois voilà ce qui arriva One two three here’s what came to pass (occurred, or happened)
   
Elle doit maintenant s’élancer hors de l’ombre She must now launch herself out of the shadows (out of the shade)
Elle craint toujours les regards indiscrets She worries about prying eyes
C’est le moment de faire voir à tout le monde It is the moment to let everyone see
Ce qu’il la trouble et qui la fait trembler What it is that troubles her and is making her tremble
Un deux trois elle a peur de montrer quoi ? One two three she is afraid to show what ?
   
[Refrain] [Refrain]
   
Si cette histoire vous amuse If this story amused you (If you found this tale amusing)
On peut la recommencer We can start it anew (begin it again)
Si c’est pas drôle on s’excuse If it’s not funny one is sorry (excuses herself)
En tout cas c’est terminé In any case it’s over (the end)

* There are two similar words in French: ‘tombe’ and ‘tombeau’ (plural forms ‘tombes’ and ‘tombeaux’). ‘Une tombe’ (‘a grave’) is what you bury a body in. ‘Un tombeau’ (‘a tomb’) is the monument or building erected above or around ‘la tombe’.
** From the verb ‘craindre’ which means to be nervous about, worry over, or have concerns. It can even mean “to be afraid of” but is generally not quite as strong. A common French expression comes from the same verb: ‘ça craint’. ‘Ça craint’ means that something is really awful . . . a situation, a place, etc.
*** While ‘pois‘ is the French word for ‘pea’ or ‘peas’, the expression ‘à petits pois’ means ‘polka dot‘ or ‘spotted‘. ‘Un bikini rouge et jaune à petits pois’ is ‘a red bikini with yellow polka dots’.
****
The general term for ‘neighbor‘ is ‘voisin’ (plural ‘voisins’). Like most French nouns, there is a feminine form (‘voisines’) for use with females.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,
Share this:
Pin it

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. Connie Fredericks-Malone:

    J’adore FRENCH Language Blog and have been a faithful reader for quite some time. I especially enjoy lessons in which music is involved.
    Please let me bring to your attention a mistake. Dalida is buried in MONTMARTRE CEMETERY (18 arrondissement) not in the cemetery mentioned in the current post. The photo in the post is from Montmartre Cemetery. For three month a year I live in Paris in the 18th arrondissement and have been doing so for over a decade. I walk Montmartre cemetery quite often visiting the gravesites of Aldo Sax, Alexandre Dumas (son), Dalida and American singer Carole Fredericks among others. Fredericks is someone you might want to include in a future blog since she had an extraordinary music career in the francophone world and her French language pop songs are used to teach French in the US, Canada and other countries.
    Keep up the good work!

    • Tim Hildreth:

      @Connie Fredericks-Malone Connie, Un grand merci pour vos commentaires . . . et surtout pour votre aide précieuse! Of course Dalida is buried at Montmartre. Corrections made!