Ma Vie en Rose

Fort Mason

Bought the Larousse Advanced French-English English-French Dictionary yesterday. God those things are expensive. I have a very troubled past with the French language. Love/hate. But I’ve gotten to a point where I need to have a French dictionary.

Who doesn’t love the expats in the 1920s? I mean, I adore those guys. F Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, all the Moveable Feast folks. Sartre, the existentialists, and ooooh, Albert Camus. He rocks. Just read The Little Prince again. Great book. Bought a collection of Saint Exupéry stories.

My sisters spoke a funny kind of high school French growing up. No one else knew French in the house, so they used it as the secret language- continued to chat around the house in it, while cooking, cleaning, sitting around: “petits gateaux” (cookies) and “beaucoup!” “moi aussi” “zut!” “s’il vous plaît!” – silly little things like that, tweentalk, mainly. For me & my other sister, being younger, it was totally natural to know these random words. It still seems endearing to me to randomly speak in French.

Enter my high school teacher that constantly compared me to three older sisters who had taken her classes. Yet another Mademoiselle B. She was also just a strange ex-Beauty Queen, and in general symbolized that American woman love of all things made in France, as a kind of elevated culture.

Anyways, my best bet for getting into the college of my choice was using French, so I was a French major but totally bombed the final Achievement test. Upon entering Reed, my French major adviser was really upset at my score so he retested me. After a French-free summer, I scored almost perfectly, and was a French major again. But then I switched to Russian.

After college, I decided to move to Paris. For no apparent reason except, of course, a guy suggested that I do it. Well, he said England and I changed that to France. After living there for 2 months, I left, and never felt the inclination to study French again.

But I got this domain (banana was taken, and I had to have banana!), and for obvious reasons started getting French readers, who were quite nice and left nice comments. Once in a while someone would ask for a good translation, and I was game. As far as online resources go- the French ones are not so great. I’ve been using ARTFL for quite a while- great resource, but again running up against words, like “auguel.” Maybe LaRousse has cornered the market on it’s content or something. So begins my journey beyond intermediate. Scary!

Regarding the title, I always think of this song as quintessentially French. I’ve never read the lyrics really, but I like it. Written by Edith Piaf. Lyrics from here.

La Vie En Rose
Des yeux qui font baisser les miens
Un rire qui se perd sur sa bouche
Voilà le portrait sans retouche
De l’homme auquel j’appartiens
Quand il me prend dans ses bras,
Il me parle tout bas
Je vois la vie en rose,
Il me dit des mots d’amour
Das mots de tous les jours,
Et ca me fait quelques choses
Il est entré dans mon cœur,
Une part de bonheur
Dont je connais la cause,
c’est lui pour moi, moi pour lui dans la vie
Il me l’a dit, l’a juré pour la vie,
Et des que je l’aperçois
Alors je sens en moi, mon cœur qui bat…
Des nuits d’amour à plus finir
Un grand bonheur qui prend sa place
Les ennuis, des chagrins s’effacent
Heureux, heureux à en mourir

My translation (many liberties were taken)

The eyes that lower mine
A laugh stopped at his lips
This is the real portrait
Of the man to whom I belong
When he takes me in his arms
He speaks so low
I see my life in rose
He speaks words of love
In everyday words
And what this does to me,
He’s entered my heart
A piece of happiness
I can see why- it’s him for me
Me for him- in the life
He says of it, and he swears by it
And from what I’d seen
No, what I feel now, as my heart beats
In nights of love never ending
A great happiness takes the place of
Boredom, and sorrows erased
By happiness, happy even in death

I like this translation– but the liberties they took, I didn’t- I went my own direction. In a way I like staying more literal to the original version, because while it’s not idiomatic, it does leave open some questions. I’m still debating on the “the man I belong to” or “the man who belongs to me.” First thing I’ll check in the NEW DICTIONARY, haha.

La vie en rose is an idiom after the fact or before?

Another great song- Padam, Padam