Georges Brassens - La complainte des filles de joie (English translation)

English translation

Lament of the ladies of the night

Versions: #1#2
Alhough these callous bourgeois
Although these callous bourgeois
call them the jolly toms1
call them the jolly toms,
their days are hardly full of fun.
indeed, indeed
their days are hardly full of fun.
 
For even with their tarty feet2
For even with their tarty feet
walking all day along the streets
walking all day along the streets
that's quite a strain on the pins
indeed, indeed
that's quite a strain on the pins.
 
Not only have they corns
Not only have they corns
and all kinds of sores3, but besides
and all kinds of sores, but besides
they wear down quite a lot of shoes
indeed, indeed
they wear down quite a lot of shoes.
 
There are patrons, some real bastards
There are patrons, some real bastards
who never dip into water.
who never dip into water.
They still have to cuddle them
indeed, indeed
they still have to cuddle them,
 
to give them a leg up
to give them a leg up
to reach the Seventh Heaven.
to reach the Seventh Heaven.
They sure do earn their money
indeed, indeed
they sure do earn their money.
 
The public despises them,
The public despises them,
the cops rough them up
the cops rough them up
and the clap4 threatens them
indeed, indeed
the clap threatens them.
 
Though they make love all day
Though they make love all day
and get married a dozen times
and get married a dozen times
they never enjoy the party
indeed, indeed
they never enjoy the party.
 
You son of an oaf and a dimwit
You son of an oaf and a dimwit
don't you laugh at poor Venus,
don't you laugh at poor Venus,
at the poor old laughing stock
indeed, indeed
at the poor old laughing stock.
 
You didn't miss by much, my friend
You didn't miss by much, my friend
being the son of this whore,
being the son of this whore,
the very whore you're laughing at
indeed, indeed
the very whore you're laughing at.
 
  • 1. lit "ladies of joy/pleasure" but, though a bit dated, the expression is still much more common than in English
  • 2. "faire le pied de grue" also means "cooling one's heels", and "grue" is dated slang for "whore". Could also mean "the base of a crane" in a technical sense, but I don't think that pun is intended here!
  • 3. "oeil-de-perdrix"(grouse eye) is a synonym of "cor"(corn), but winks to "pieds de grue"(crane foot)
  • 4. technically that's syphilis, but "vérole" is more rude
This translation does not claim to be of any particular value.
Glad if you liked it, sorry if you didn't.
You can reuse it as you please.
Glad if it's for knowledge or understanding, sorry if it's just for money or fame.
Submitted by petit élève on Fri, 14/07/2017 - 02:10
Last edited by petit élève on Mon, 24/07/2017 - 03:36
French

La complainte des filles de joie

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Green_Sattva    Fri, 14/07/2017 - 14:29

Merci a toi!

(диакритики не ставятся с моей клавиатуры, если что)

michealt    Fri, 21/07/2017 - 22:18

Lines 1 and 2: "Although" might be better than "though" just to get the translated syllable count closer to the original.
Lines 3 and 4: "the joy division" is perhaps not a good choice: in Britain all it means is the rock band founded in Manchester in the mid-70s and the resulting music and films; one reason it's a bad fit here is that it was an all male band, the other is that it has no connection at all (as far as I know) with sexual services. Maybe "the jolly toms" would be better ("tom" is slang for "prostitute", the OED shows it in use in the UK from 1941 onwards, and it's heard pretty regularly on TV in police dramas, maybe "call them all the jolly toms" for the line to keep the syllable count from getting too small).
Lines 5 and 7: Maybe I'm just being too literal in translation here, but "It's not every day that the have a laugh"?

stanza 2: I can see that "tarty" is a good translation of "de grue", but the other common meaning "waiting around", "cooling one's heels" (which is probably accidental, irrelevant) and the possibility that "pied de grue" means "support strong enough to be the base of a crane" are all lost with that. I don't know how to solve that translation problem, the pun is not translatable; but after "car même" something that might suggest that a lot of walking perhaps shouldn't be "fatigant" might be be better, if you can think of something.

stanza 8: pécore - I think "sot" would be closer than "oaf" ("oaf" is bit ambiguous, it could still imply something tied to it's theoretically obsolete meanings). Anyway, you certainly can't say "a oaf" instead of "an oaf". And "minus" rather than a dead loss is surely a dimwit?

stanza 9: I don't like "my good man" for "mon cher" - the English is clearly someone addressing a a person a step or too down the social ladder from himself and making it clear that he regard the addressee as someone inferior. It would be better to say "my friend" or "mate", which are respectively formal and informal but both between social equals which is where I think "mon cher" is.
"You could well have been" I would say "You didn't miss by much", and the next line "being ...." to provide an object for "miss". Your way is correct, of course, but less literal than mine and I think also less natural English.

petit élève    Sat, 22/07/2017 - 04:29

"joy division" allowed a pun on "joy" like on "joie", but I agree that was a bit far-fetched.

I can't see how to salvage this "crane's foot" pun either. I think the "tarty foot" makes more sense, if you have to pick one meaning.

"pécore" means something like "dumb peasant" (like "péquenaud"), so I thought "oaf" was a pretty good equivalent (even though I forgot the 'n'!). I can't see the possible confusion you're talking about. The only old-ish meaning I know is something like "farm hand", which is basically along the same line. Or did I miss something?
Also "a sot" is more like a drunkard, if I'm not mistaken?

"minus" is not really about intelligence. More like "minable", only worse. A zero, a peanut, a no-hoper...

Agreed, the condescending tone of "my good man" is off. "my friend" is much better.

Green_Sattva    Sat, 22/07/2017 - 10:52

I liked "joy division", why did you changed it?

Green_Sattva    Sat, 22/07/2017 - 11:07

I will write in Russian, sorry.

Как мне кажется, joy division очень подходит здесь, чтобы сохранить игру слов с "joie". Само словосочетание, насколько мне известно, использовалось в нацистской Германии для обозначения борделей, созданных в концлагерях.

Quote:

«Веселая дивизия»

Взятый в 1930-х годах нацистами курс на полную регламентацию половой жизни и проституции продолжился и во время Второй мировой войны. В 1942 году Гиммлер издал постановление об организации в концентрационных лагерях борделей, которые могли посещать сотрудничающие с администрацией заключенные. Шеф немецких концлагерей утверждал, что открытие «домов терпимости» должно повысить производительность труда.

Местом вербовки проституток стал женский лагерь Равенсбрюк, расположенный в 90 километрах севернее от Берлина. Первый такой бордель был открыт в Верхней Австрии в лагере Маутхаузен. Затем они стали появляться и в других местах заключения. Более 60% сотрудниц лагерных борделей были немки, признанные в Третьем рейхе асоциальными элементами, — далеко не все из них были на свободе проститутками. Женщины, которые и на свободе занимались этой работой, привлекались руководством СС для «повышения профессионализма» работы лагерных борделей. Остальные женщины в этих заведениях происходили из оккупированных стран Европы. Возрастные рамки были ограничены возрастом от 17 до 35 лет. По приблизительным оценкам историков, к проституции в концлагерях были привлечены около 34 тысяч женщин.

(отсюда: http://rusplt.ru/society/prostitutsiya-tsveta-haki-13420.html)

А что касается британской группы, опять-таки, насколько я знаю, Иен Кертис как раз эти "дивизии радости" и имел в виду, когда дал название Joy division свой музыкальной группе.
Кстати, ты смотрел фильм "Control" ?

Green_Sattva    Sat, 22/07/2017 - 11:17
Quote:

В 1978 группа стала называться JOY DIVISION. Название было взято из романа Кэрол Сетински (Carol Cetinsky) «Кукольный дом» («The House Of Dolls»), действие которого происходит в годы Второй мировой войны в нацистских концлагерях. В буквальном переводе «Joy Division» означает «Сектор развлечений» — так в лагере называли помещение для развлечений, где фашисты насиловали евреек. Это название вызвало необоснованные предположения журналистов о нацистском влиянии на творчество группы.

Взято отсюда:

---

Quote:

С этого и началась история группы JOY DIVISION, название которой переводится "Контора/Отдел/Дивизия Удовольствий/Радости".

На самом деле, подобное словосочетание не означало ничего хорошего. Так в немецких концлагерях назывался своеобразный публичный дом, где "работали" вывезенные с оккупированных территорий девушки, согласившиеся ради спасения жизни обслуживать прихоти фашистов. Сия информация была почерпнута из садомазохистской книги Кароля Кетински "House of Dolls" ("Дом Кукол"), мотивы которой прослеживаются также в песне Кертиса "No love lost" ("Не Теряй Любовь").

отсюда: http://www.ytime.com.ua/ru/26/119

michealt    Mon, 24/07/2017 - 02:37

The possible problem with "oaf" is that it originally meant elf or goblin, then it came to mean changeling, the changeling meaning led to misbegotten or idiot child, which then got generalised to the modern meaning: an unsatisfactory loutish and/or stupid person. But a quick check shows that the older meanings died out in English other than in Northern English dialects more that a hundred years ago. And you're probably right about "sot", I think I must have been thinking of the Old English, Middle English, Early Modern English and Old French word "sot" which came into England from France before the year 1000 AD meaning a stupid person, a blockhead, a dolt (TLF lists idiot, imbécile; abruti, andouille, and crétin as synonyms for sot, so it means the same in modern French as it did 1000 years ago) but that meaning became obsolete in English by the middle of the 17th century (except in the compound sot-weed, meaning tobacco - a weed used only by very stupid people; but even that use had gone except in books about history by the beginning of the 19th century) and the meaning shifted to being "drunkard", so best to stick with "oaf".

I think you are wrong about "minus": TLF says " Personne incapable ou peu intelligente. Synon. arriéré, crétin, simple" and gives quotations from 1836 (actually using the full Latin phrase from which the modern "minus" on its own is derived: "minus habens") and from 1934 and 1954 (using just "minus", no "habens"), the 1954 century quotation certainly carrying the meaning "not intelligent" (and the 19th century one certainly means "having less" as it contains the full phrase, and it is pretty clear that it can only mean less common sense or less capability to understand). I don't have a copy of Henry de M's "Les célibataires" so I don't have enough context for the 1934 quotation to be certain of the meaning. But 1954 is less that 10 years different from when Brassens wrote the song, so it seems quite likely that he would ave seen the word the same way as Marcel Aymé did when he wrote "Tu me tiens pour un imbécile, un minus, un débile mental?".

One other thing: "quite the strain" is valid, but sounds a bit formal register, so I think "quite a strain" would be better.
And there's a misprint "indded" for "indeed" in teh 6th stanza.

petit élève    Mon, 24/07/2017 - 03:34

Interesting. "sot" is still part of modern French, though it's not widely used, mostly in expressions like "il n'y a pas de sot métier". The kind of word posh people are supposed to use Regular smile

Actually I just played it by ear for "minus". "dead loss" is how I understand it now, but that might indeed have been different when Brassens wrote the song.

I thought "quite the strain" would match the original tone, but apparently it doesn't. What would you use to convey the slangy register then?

petit élève    Sun, 23/07/2017 - 06:11

well yes, that's the origin of the name, but maybe that's a bit too harsh for the context of this song. "fille de joie" just evokes a brothel, not a concentration camp.

michealt    Mon, 24/07/2017 - 17:40

Nothing wrong with "strain" itself, it was "the" that made is seem a bit formal. Maybe you could use "puts" instead of "that's"; maybe "a tiring" instead of "quite a"; maybe "gams" or "shanks" instead of "pins"; or any combination of these, but I don't think they would really make it a better match for the original (except that "tiring strain" is perhaps a good refection of "fatigant"). Using "pins" instead of "legs" is already slangy - and that's the only word in the French original of that line that is slangy.