Alouette, gentille alouette…

Alouette, gentille alouette…

aa-loo-wet, zhah-tee yaa-loo-WET-tuh… Click below to hear the song! No, not the whole song. I will sing the last verse. You’re on your own for the first seven verses.

Lark, nice lark…

Since I mentioned this song in yesterday’s post, I thought I’d write about it today. So many people know this song, but do they really know it?

For instance, why are we plucking a lark? Aren’t they songbirds? Who eats songbirds?

That would be the Voyageurs, the French-Canadian explorers, trappers, and fur traders of the 18th century. Larks were considered a game bird, and therefore edible. The song is thought to have originated in French Canada, though some researchers argue that it ultimately harks back to France.

The next question is, Why are we plucking body parts that have no feathers?

Because it’s fun, and makes the song go on and on!

Here are the words as they are usually sung:

Refrain :
Alouette, gentille alouette,
Alouette, je te plumerai.

I
Je te plumerai la tête.
Je te plumerai la tête.
Et la tête ! Et la tête !
Alouette, Alouette !
(au refrain)

II
Je te plumerai le bec.
Je te plumerai le bec.
Et le bec ! (bis)
Et la tête ! (bis)
Alouette ! (bis)
(au refrain)

III
…les yeux.

IV
…le cou.

V
…les ailes.

VI
…les pattes.

VII
…la queue.

VIII
Je te plumerai le dos.
Je te plumerai le dos.
Et le dos ! (bis)
Et la queue ! (bis)
Et les pattes ! (bis)
Et les ailes ! (bis)
Et le cou ! (bis)
Et les yeux ! (bis)
Et le bec ! (bis)
Et la tête ! (bis)
Alouette ! (bis)
(au refrain)

Lark, nice lark,
I will pluck you.

Then, in order:

I will pluck your head, beak, eyes, neck, wings, feet, tail, back.

It’s a call-and-response song, where the audience repeats each line after the song leader, and one of those cumulative songs where you have to try to remember in what order you mentioned each part, so you can add to the backwards list at the end of each verse. Of course it’s even better if you get up a good head of steam, going faster and faster as you add verses, and at the same time touch each body part as you sing. (I know, you don’t have wings. Your elbows will do fine.)

Oh, and by the way…it’s not j’en te plumerai. It’s je te plumerai. Adding en turns the sentence to nonsense. Common mistake, but it hurts my ears. Thank you for your consideration.

One response to “Alouette, gentille alouette…

  1. This is the first time I have listened to your daily offering at the computer in the Manor library. Unfortunately, I can’t even find any speakers, so I don’t know how to lower the volume here. I’m sure there’s a way, but it was so loud that I’m sure it could have been heard all the way out in the lobby! However, it was mighty nice to hear you sing, and I certainly remember that song from camp, many years ago. Maman

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