This morning I had a childhood-ruining moment. Not in a ‘Hollywood failed to properly recreate the Fraggles/Captain Planet* universe’s socio-political environment in their live-action remake’ way, more in an ‘unexpected animal cruelty ruins bilingualism forever’ kind of way. I’m sure it’s happened to all of us.
Alouette is a French children’s song designed to teach you about the different parts of a bird, because obviously this is a critically important thing to know when you visit France, to the point where they stop you at the border and say “What is the word for beak? No? Right, fuck off, no Eiffel Tower for you.”** We sang Aloutte in French class at school – the basic idea is that you’re admiring a bird, and you sing about the different bits of the bird that you admire. I know, right? WHY WOULD WE NEED A SONG FOR THAT.***
NICE TITS, BIRD
Here is how I was taught it goes:
Aloutte, gentill Alouette - Bird, pretty bird
Aloutte, je te plumerai! - Bird, I admire your plumage!
Je te plumerai la tete - I admire the plumage of your head!
Je te plumerai la tete - I admire the plumage of your head.
Aloutte! - Bird!
Aloutte! - Bird!
Ahhhh – Ahhh…
And so on and so forth, until you had named all the parts of the bird. Aloutte! Aloutte! AHHHHH!
I was thinking this morning, in the shower, about the utter pointlessness of this song. Why do we need a song that names all the parts of a bird? This could have been achieved with a diagram.
I thought I’d google it and learn more about the song about the Aloutte. What I discovered was that not only is ‘Aloutte’ a lark, not the non-specific cop-out ‘bird’ of my youth, but ‘je te plumerai’ doesn’t mean “I admire your plumage”.
It means, “I will pluck you.”
JE TE PLUMERAI, MOTHERFUCKER.
And now all I can think about is a classroom full of kids merrily singing about plucking a bird, to the bird they are plucking – “And I will pluck your beak! And your eyes! And your head! Bird! Ahhhh” – while an easily entertained French teacher looks on, smirking.
Well played, Mrs Bell. Well played.
*Given Hollywood’s current penchant for endlessly rebooting superhero movies, how the FUCK have they not made a Captain Planet movie yet? Come on, Hollywood. You had time to make ‘Battleship’, you have time for this. I thought Chris Hemsworth was the obvious casting choice for Captain Planet, but then I Googled it and someone else has already made the picture I’m about to show you, and now I’m not so sure.
Liam Neeson, maybe? Hugh Grant? Casting is hard.
**it’s ‘le bec.’ Enjoy your Eiffel Tower
***not that English children’s songs are much better - I’m looking at you, ‘I’m a Little Teapot’. Right now a funny and very good-looking French lady is blogging about how when you go through British customs the official puts their hand on their hip, points at their elbow, and roars, “WHAT IS THIS? No? Right, fuck off, no Buckingham Palace for you.”
Spoiler alert: it’s your spout.