Tag Archives: French folk song

French camp song – Cunégonde

--Informant Info--
Nationality:
Age:
Occupation:
Residence:
Date of Performance/Collection:
Primary Language:
Other Language(s):

Context: 

This piece was collected in a casual interview setting in the informant’s back yard. My informant (JP) was born in Lynon, France, and moved to California in 2002 with his wife for their jobs at Caltech. He is a professor of Seismology, enjoys playing tennis and guitar, has two teenage daughters, and loves to sing old French camp songs he learned as a kid. The following is a song JP learned when he went to summer camp as a child, when he was around 10 years old. He still sings it and taught it to his daughters who like to sing along.

Main Piece: The following is a transcribed camp song JP sung.

Cunégonde, veux-tu du fromage,

Oui ma mere, avec du beurre dessus,

Bein ma fille, t’es bien trop gourmande, et t’auras un coup pied aux…

**repeats from the start** 

Translation:

Transliterated translation: **note: “gourmande” has no direct translation. It is closest to “greedy for food”** 

Cunégonde, want you cheese,

Yes my mother, with some butter on top,

Well my girl, you’re well too greedy, and you’ll have a kick to the … 

Fully translated version: 

Cunégonde, do you want cheese,

Yes my mother, with some butter on top,

Well my daughter, you are too greedy for good, and you’ll have a kick to the … 

Thoughts: 

The reason this song is so funny to children is that the beginning of the name “Cunégonde” sounds like the word “ass” in French. When the mother tells her daughter she’s going to give “a kick to the…” and the song repeats, it sounds like the mother is going to kick Cunégonde’s ass. This was a playful song my sister, dad and I would song together growing up, but I was never really able to share it with my American friends because it does not translate well. 

Annotation:

For another version of the Cunegonde song, please follow this link: https://forum.parents.fr/t/chansons-debiles-3/29119 

French camp song – À la Pêche aux Moules

--Informant Info--
Nationality: French American
Age: 57
Occupation: University Professor
Residence:
Date of Performance/Collection: April 16, 2020
Primary Language: French
Other Language(s):

Context: 

This piece was collected in a casual interview setting in the informant’s back yard. My informant (JP) was born in Lynon, France, and moved to California in 2002 with his wife for their jobs at Caltech. He is a professor of Seismology, enjoys playing tennis and guitar, has two teenage daughters, and loves to sing old French camp songs he learned as a kid. The following is a song JP learned when he went to summer camp as a child, when he was around 10 years old. He still sings it and taught it to his daughters who like to sing along.

Main Piece:

The following is a transcribed song JP sung:

À la pêche aux moules, moules, moules

Je ne veux plus y aller maman

Les gens de la ville, ville, ville

M’ont pris mon panier maman

Les gens de la ville, ville, ville

M’ont pris mon panier maman

*Repeats from the top*

Translation:

Transliterate translation: 

At the fishing of muscles, muscles, muscles,

I don’t want to go anymore mom,

The people of the city, city, city,

Took my basket mom,

The people of the city, city, city,

Took my basket mom.

Translated version:

At the muscles, muscles, muscles fishing,

I don’t want to go anymore mom,

The people of the city, city, city,

Took my basket mom,

The people of the city, city, city,

Took my basket mom.

Thoughts: 

This was a very cute, upbeat song and I can understand why so many children would sing it together during camp. It’s a song about bullying and going to your mother for comfort, which most people can emotionally connect to. To this day, French school children sing this song, but it has been mass commercialized since the time JP learned it and you can find many Youtube videos of it for children. In my opinion, because of its commercialization, it has lost a lot of its charm.

French Hiccup Cure

--Informant Info--
Nationality: French American
Age: 54
Occupation: Relocation Consultant
Residence: Pasadena
Date of Performance/Collection:
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): French

Context: 

This piece is collected in a casual interview setting around a cup of coffee. My informant (BA) was born in Lille, France, and moved to California in 2002 with her husband for their jobs at Caltech. She has a Master in Human Resources and Detection of High Potentials, is a mother of two teenage girls, loves to garden and go on hikes, and is overall a very energetic and happy woman. 

Main Piece:

The following is transcribed from a conversation between the informant (BA) and interviewer.

Interviewer: How do you cure hiccups?

BA: Ah, bah, you have to sing this song as many times as you can without breathing! It goes like this *she proceeds to sing it*

J’ai le hoquet, Dieu me la fait, vive Jésus, je n’l’ai plus!

Interviewer: Where did you learn this song from?

BA: My grandmother taught me it, you know, *names the person.* She would make me and my little brother sing it until our hiccups went away and it really worked, it worked every time. It was really funny. I don’t know where she learned it from though.

Translation: 

Original song: J’ai le hoquet, Dieu me la fait, vive Jésus, je n’l’ai plus!

Transliterate translation (word for word) *note that “n’l’ai” is a slur of “ne” and “l’ai” together, which is the equivalent of slurring “don’t have it” as one word*: I have the hiccup, God did it to me, long live Jesus, I don’t have it anymore!

Fully translated song: I have hiccups, God did it to me, long live Jesus, I don’t have it anymore!

Thoughts: I have heard of holding your breath to stop from hiccuping before, but I discovered the “hiccup song” from my informant. I believe, like she does, that this method works. If holding your breath for as long as possible gets rid of the hiccups, singing a song for you to lose your breath faster can only help! 

Annotation:

For more versions of the French hiccup song, and other ways of getting rid of hiccups, please follow this link: http://nichkouna.blogspot.com/2009/05/le-hoquet-hiccup-schluck-schluckauf.html 

Alouette: French Nursery Rhyme

--Informant Info--
Nationality: French-American
Age: 18
Occupation: Student
Residence: Los Angeles, California
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/17/19
Primary Language: French
Other Language(s): American

Context CW, with a mug of hot tea sits, on my couch after an afternoon of doing homework and recounts stories from their childhood CW was raised French and attended a French immersion school. The atmosphere is calm, the air is calm and the room is mostly quiet in between stories.
———————————————————————————————————————Background: CW learned Alouette in preschool, from their teachers. It’s meaning is rooted in a nostalgic warmth for their youth, also they think the song is “pretty cute I guess, but it’s kinda fucked up”. CW doesn’t necessarily like it so much as believes it is very deeply ingrained in their person.

Performance:

CW: Alouette gentille alouette/ alouette je te plumerais/ je te plumerais la tête/ je te plumerais la tête/ et la tête et la tête/ alouette alouette/ alouette gentille alouette/ alouette je te plumerais/ je te plumerais le bec/ je te plumerais le bec/ et le bec et la tête/ alouette alouette/ alouette gentille alouette/ alouette je te plumerais/ je te plumerais le cou/ je te plumerais le cou/ et le cou et le bec/ alouette alouette/ alouette gentille alouette/ alouette je te plumerais/ je te plumerais les ailes/ je te plumerais les ailes/ et les ailes et le cou/ alouette gentille alouette/ alouette je te plumerais/ je te plumerais le dos/ je te plumerais le dos/ et le dos et les ailes/ alouette alouette/ alouette gentille alouette/ alouette je te plumerais
———————————————————————————————————————

Translation

Lark, nice lark/ Let me pluck you lark/ let me pluck your head/ let me pluck your head/ and your head and your head/ lark lark/ lark nice lark/ let me pluck you lark/Lark, nice lark/ Let me pluck you lark/ let me pluck your beak/ let me pluck your beak/ and your beak and your head/ lark lark/ lark nice lark/ let me pluck you lark/Lark, nice lark/ Let me pluck you lark/ let me pluck your neck/ let me pluck your neck/ and your neck and your beak/ lark lark/ lark nice lark/ let me pluck you lark/Lark, nice lark/ Let me pluck you lark/ let me pluck your wings/ let me pluck your wings/ and your wings and your neck/ lark lark/ lark nice lark/ let me pluck you lark/Lark, nice lark/ Let me pluck you lark/ let me pluck your back/ let me pluck your back/ and your back and your wing/ lark lark/ lark nice lark/ let me pluck you lark/

———————————————————————————————————————
Analysis: The song is something of a memory game, that used to teach children in France new words like neck, back, beak, and head. Much like the hokey pokey, this song serves the dual purpose of keeping children occupied and teaching them the language to express the parts of their own body. The song appears in lists across the internet like “5 Magical Songs For Teaching French To Preschoolers” indicating that as globalization has spread the ability to teach and learn language so too has this element of folklore spread into countries where French isn’t the dominant language to serve as a teaching tool. The way the song burrows its way into the mind of the performer too allows for its performance to gain meaning as a cultural object, the knowing of Alouette, a marker of exposure to French culture and a way to connect with other people