[SOLVED] [Various Issues] Anouk - "Ball and Chain"

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<a href="/en/translator/gak2112" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1475611">gak2112</a>
Joined: 27.10.2020
Pending moderation

Good Morning People

I am working on the translation into French of "Ball and Chain" by Anouk.

A summary of the issues that I've identified so far:
1. The lyrics source contains a number of mistakes
2. I would like additional ears on the second verse ("If the way try not to let it slip away")
3. I'm struggling with the translations of:
a. "To be someone you're not"
b. "So hard to see / When there's something wrong"
c. "Ball and chain"

#1 MISTAKES

Here is the link to the song: https://lyricstranslate.com/fr/anouk-ball-and-chain-lyrics.html

QUESTION: Should I create an alternate English translation? Or should the editors modify the posted lyrics?

Here is my transcription of the song (below). It seems to me as if this forum needs to decide whether or not to correct the posted version before I proceed with my translation. The mistakes are not highly significant, but grammatical for the most part. In addition, the lyrics for the back end of the song are missing.

BALL AND CHAIN
I know the drill
You got your ball and chain
Hold you down
The circle round the story stays the same
It won’t be long
And then your heart is frozen
The time is come
To break away

You got it all
What makes you hesitate
Don’t just wait
For things to blow up in your pretty face
If the way try not to let it slip away [2]
And you may find yourself again

I feel
People just don’t know you
Like I do
We’re making it
So hard to see
When there's something wrong
It goes on and on [3b]

I know the drill
You got your ball and chain
I found out the second
Round that some things never change
Open my eyes
And let the days come over me
Maybe it’ll go away

I feel
People just don’t know you
Like I do
We’re making it
So hard to see
When there's something wrong
On and on and on

You'll see
Not everybody’s here
To break your heart
So there is a price to pay
To be someone you're not [3a]

On and on and on

I feel
People just don’t know you
Like I do
We’re making it
So hard to see
When there's something wrong
On and on and on

You'll see
Not everybody’s here
To break your heart
So there is a price to pay
To be someone you're not

To be someone you're not

#2 ANOTHER LISTEN: "If the way try not to let it slip away"

The first four lines make perfect sense. "You got it all" sort of says it all. He *should be* in control, but his own problems - his own "ball and chain" - keeps him from acting in his own self-interest.

The next line is the stumbling block. In the context, I interpret it to say: "If it is the right thing for you, don't the chance to 'break away' slip away"

Then the next line makes sense, where he makes the break, and finds himself.

The problem is the compressed first part - "if the way". It is awkward, but if all agree that is what Anouk sings, we can move on.

Here is the entire verse:

You got it all
What makes you hesitate
Don’t just wait
For things to blow up in your pretty face
[If the way] try not to let it slip away [2]
And you may find yourself again

# 3. TRANSLATION QUESTIONS

For these two questions, I am looking for guidance on an expression that matches the short, familiar, turn of the phrase

a. "To be someone you're not"

For the first line, the context is:

"So there is a price to pay
To be someone you're not"

I translate the sense of these lines as:

"Il faut quand même payer le prix
Pour te cacher de moi"

b. "So hard to see / When there's something wrong"

The full context:

We’re making it
So hard to see
When there's something wrong
It goes on and on

I translate these lines as:

Nous, on fait en sorte que
Ce soit trop dur de remarquer
Qu’au fond ça ne va pas

c. "Ball and chain"

PaotrLaouen and Silenced have already been kind enough to provide an equivalent French expression for "ball and chain": "le boulet"

However, I am interested in the opinion of the group as to the intended sense of "ball and chain". In my experience, the most frequent use of the expression is to describe a person - wife, girlfriend, significant other. It can either be used in *very* familiar teasing way, where you are sure of the company and of person's ability to take a joke, or in a very harsh, unpleasant, mean way.

However, in this song, it seems as if "ball and chain" is used to describe circumstances that are holding the person down: the circumstances of the relationship, external problems, an inability to trust ("not everybody's here to break your heart").

So my question is, if in fact this alternate interpretation is the more legitimate: is "le boulet" still the best expression to use?

FINALLY - THE WORKING TRANSLATION IN FRENCH

LE BOULET

Tes moyens me sont familiers
T’as ton boulet
Qui t’opprime
Le cercle autour de l’histoire reste pareil
Dans très peu de temps
Ton cœur se congèlera
C’est maintenant
Qu’il faut se séparer

T’as tout ce qu’il faut
Qu’est-ce qui te retient
N’hésite pas
Que tout s’éclate devant ta jolie figure
Si c’est juste il n’faut pas que ça se laisse aller
Et il se peut que tu t’y retrouve encore

Je trouve
On te connait vraiment pas
Pareil que moi
Nous, on fait en sorte que
Ce soit trop dur de remarquer
Qu’au fond ça ne va pas
Ça passe encore et encore

Tes moyens me sont familiers
T’as ton boulet
J’ai su au cours de la deuxième
Tournée qu’il y a des choses qui ne changeront jamais
Que s’ouvrent mes yeux
Que les jours se glissent au-dessus de moi
Peut-être que ça disparaisse

Je trouve
On te connait vraiment pas
Pareil que moi
Nous, on fait en sorte que
Ce soit trop dur de remarquer
Qu’au fond ça ne va pas
Ça passe encore et encore

Tu verras
C’est pas tout le monde
Qui veuille casser ton cœur
Il faut quand même payer le prix
Pour te cacher de moi

Encore et encore et encore

Je trouve
On te connait vraiment pas
Pareil que moi
Nous, on fait en sorte que
Ce soit trop dur de remarquer
Qu’au fond ça ne va pas
Encore et encore et encore

Thanks for any assistance that you all can offer.

Moderator ᐂ
<a href="/en/translator/alma-barroca" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1110108">Alma Barroca</a>
Joined: 05.04.2012

#1 - You can report it via thread so a Mod or an Editor will update it.
https://lyricstranslate.com/en/node/2455021

#3 - [@silenced], [@Floppylou], [@Geheiligt] are native French users who happen to be Mods or Editors, so they can also update the lyrics.

Moderator
<a href="/en/translator/floppylou" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1336490">Floppylou</a>
Joined: 29.04.2017

#3

Quote:

"So there is a price to pay
To be someone you're not"

I translate the sense of these lines as:

"Il faut quand même payer le prix
Pour te cacher de moi"

I think here, the "word to word" would do it : "Il y a un prix à payer quand tu prétends être quelqu'un d'autre". I think the subtext is that the person is going to pay (suffer ?) from his lies and what he pretended to be. French has an expression especially for that: "Payer les pots cassés", which roughly translates as "pay the price (of your actions)"

- - - -

Quote:

Ball and chain

I agree with my friends. "Un boulet" might do the trick. May I suggest, "être pieds et poings liés" ("Having your hands and feet tied") ? If that person is held down by someone else, by circumstances or by trust issues, that probably would be the way I'd translate it. "T'es pieds et poings liés" is stronger in my point of view.

Editor whimsical chatterbox
<a href="/en/translator/silenced" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1423036">silenced</a>
Joined: 29.05.2019

I'd rather not mess with complicated lyrics, my spoken English does indeed frighten the cats away.

------
I see nothing wrong with your attempts, they are understandable and true to the original.
"te cacher de moi" is rather "hide from me" but clearly that what is meant here.
Just some variants for the fun of it:

So there is a price to pay to be someone you're not -> "alors il y a un prix à payer pour ne pas être toi-même", I guess? like "not being your true self", "not being true to your nature"?

We’re making it so hard to see when there's something wrong. It goes on and on -> "on dissimule (vraiment) / trop bien les choses / qui ne tournent pas rond, / et ça n'arrête pas" or something? If "tourner rond" is too slangy, "qui ne vont pas" or "quand ça (ne) va pas" are more neutral. There are aggressively idiomatic ways of saying, like "on planque vraiment trop bien la poussière sous le tapis", but that might be pushing it.

About this "boulet" you can also use a less snappy variant, like "tu as ce boulet au pied" instead of "t'as ton boulet" [lit. "you got this ball [chained] to your foot"], "avoir un boulet au pied" is quite idiomatic too.

-----
I've got a squadron of Rafale fighter-bombers ready to drop a carpet of nitpicking ordnance on your attempt, but I'd rather wait for the lyrics to be fixed. In the mean time, dig in and brace for impact.

Editor True-to-original translations.
<a href="/en/translator/michaelna" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1257575">MichaelNa</a>
Joined: 29.08.2015

This is where the “ball and chain” expression comes from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ball_and_chain

Senior Member
<a href="/en/translator/gak2112" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1475611">gak2112</a>
Joined: 27.10.2020

Thanks to all for your comments. I've submitted the request for the update to the original lyrics.

Senior Member
<a href="/en/translator/gak2112" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1475611">gak2112</a>
Joined: 27.10.2020

MIchaelNa has updated the originally transcribed English lyrics. Thank you. Stay tuned.

Senior Member
<a href="/en/translator/gak2112" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1475611">gak2112</a>
Joined: 27.10.2020

All (and silenced, bombers at the ready)

Thanks for your guidance. I have updated the French translation, posting it here first:

LE BOULET

Tes moyens me sont familiers
T’as un boulet au pied
Qui t’opprime
Le cercle autour de l’histoire reste pareil
Dans très peu de temps
Ton cœur se congèlera
C’est maintenant
Qu’il faut se séparer

T’as tout ce qu’il faut
Qu’est-ce qui te retient
N’hésite pas
Que tout s’éclate devant ta jolie figure
Si c’est juste il n’faut pas que ça se laisse aller
Et il se peut que tu t’y retrouve encore

Je trouve
On te connait vraiment pas
Pareil que moi
On dissimule vraiment
Trop bien les choses
Quand ça ne va pas
Ça passe encore et encore

Tes moyens me sont familiers
T’as un boulet au pied
J’ai su au cours de la deuxième
Tournée qu’il y a des choses qui ne changeront jamais
Que s’ouvrent mes yeux
Que les jours se glissent au-dessus de moi
Peut-être que ça disparaisse

Je trouve
On te connait vraiment pas
Pareil que moi
On dissimule vraiment
Trop bien les choses
Quand ça ne va pas
Ça passe encore et encore

Tu verras
C’est pas tout le monde
Qui veuille casser ton cœur
Alors il y a un prix à payer
Pour ne pas être toi-meme

Encore et encore et encore

Je trouve
On te connait vraiment pas
Pareil que moi
On dissimule vraiment
Trop bien les choses
Quand ça ne va pas

Encore et encore et encore

Editor whimsical chatterbox
<a href="/en/translator/silenced" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1423036">silenced</a>
Joined: 29.05.2019

Right, let's have some fun then. It should be less wasteful of taxpayer's money, hopefully.
I'll break it down into manageable chunks.

Tes moyens me sont familiers -> That's not very natural. "je connais la musique" is a very good match for "I know the drill"

Le cercle autour de l’histoire reste pareil -> that doesn't ring a bell. I'd say "cette/notre histoire tourne en rond" but that's like "we're going round in circles", the strange way of saying is lost.

congèlera -> that would be read literally, it does not work well with "heart". "ton cœur se figera [dans la glace]" maybe? "dans la glace" is not really needed, unless you really want to bring some ice into that story Regular smile
TBH it sounds a bit odd to me, I'd wait for better suggestions.

Qu’est-ce qui te retient -> I'd add the question mark. Apparently losing all punctuation (and the reader!) is trendy, but to me it's just mildly annoying and confusing.

tout s’éclate devant ta jolie figure -> "que tout t'explose à la figure" would be flat idiomatic French (or "te pète à la gueule" for something more angry and passably coarser Regular smile )
I don't really know how to blend this "pretty" into it. "à ta jolie figure" sounds stilted to me. Maybe "que tout t'explose à la figure, beau gosse" ?

If the way try not to let it slip away -> I don't get this line, not even its grammar.
And you may find yourself again -> that part makes sense, but I would need to understand the rest to suggest anything.

Unsurprisingly, I don't get your French either Teeth smile
Si c’est juste il n’faut pas que ça se laisse aller -> without further context, "se laisser aller" would be to lose one's self-respect and neglect oneself, or perhaps indulge in things you are supposed to keep in check, like excessive food and drink. It doesn't really work in an impersonal sentence.
Et il se peut que tu t’y retrouve encore -> "retrouves", but this doesn't sound quite right. That's correct French, but the register is more like that of a classic novel where people talk, well, like characters do in some classic French novels, and perhaps some people I've never met in real life Regular smile
Besides, that would mean something like "and that might still (turn out to) be to your advantage" ("s'y retrouver" has a very specific meaning, different from "se retrouver").

Right, let's stop there for now, and see what happens.

Senior Member
<a href="/en/translator/gak2112" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1475611">gak2112</a>
Joined: 27.10.2020

Excellent!  Having processed your response, here are my takeaways:

  1. "I know the drill"  -> "Je connais la musique"
  2. "The circle round the story stays the same" 
  • While I agree that "Le cercle autour de l’histoire reste pareil " is perhaps not "French" (too literal), "cette histoire tourne en rond" doesn't seem to get at the sense of confinement, the constraints imposed by the ball and chain on the relationship. So I think we need a phrase that evokes boundaries.
  1. [so much for my attempts at a sequential numbering]: "and then your heart is frozen" -> "et puis ton coeur se figera"
  • You don't seem wild about "se figer", mais faute de mieux, I'll go with this verb. What about "se geler"? 
  1. "Qu'est-ce qui te retient?" D'accord
  2. "For things to blow up in your pretty face" -> "que tout t'explose à la figure"
  • I understand that the expression doesn't allow for the insertion of another adjective - I'll add "beau gosse" and see how it looks
  1. "If the way try not to let it slip away"
  • Agreed that the sentence construction is bad. I've listened to the recording a number of times, and that's how it sounds. I've tried to think of other words that might sound similar, but make more sense - so far, no luck
  • Without knowing exactly what Anouk was thinking, it seems reasonable to imagine a context such as this:  "If it's the right thing to do ("break away", previous stanza), then don't miss your chance. Don't wait til things blow up."
  • So to break the revised bad sentence in two:  part one = "if it's the right thing to do", part two = "try not to let it slip away"
  • Part one:   "if it's the right thing to do" -> "si j'ai raison" / advantages:  refers back to opinion in the first stanza, it's short and sweet
  • Part two:  "try not to let it slip away" -> "faut pas que tu laisses ça filer"
  • Full new sentence:   "si j'ai raison, il ne faut pas que tu laisses ça filer"
  1. "And you may find yourself again" -> "tu peux te retrouver de nouveau

So, the tally:  a bunch of direct hits, and one too close for comfort. 

Thoughts, please, and I await the next sortie.

Thanks.

Editor whimsical chatterbox
<a href="/en/translator/silenced" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1423036">silenced</a>
Joined: 29.05.2019

My carpet bombing tends to frighten bystanders away. One wonders why, really. I always use smart bombs, the kind that only kills bad people.

Anyway, that's a problem since I just can't think of a good equivalent for this "frozen heart". For some reason that sounds odd to me, but other natives might disagree, or come up with more natural metaphors.

The circle round the story stays the same -> OK, what about "t'as ce boulet au pied / qui enferme / ton histoire dans un cercle vicieux".
That would be a pun on "cercle vicieux", an ultra common expression in French.

OK, I get the idea. "il faut se séparer" is off then, that would mean "you and I should break up", while the idea is to break away like an escapee, right? "il faut que tu t'évades" ?

so if I rewrite the sentence as "if that's the way to go, try not to let it slip away, and you may find yourself again", I'd say:
"si c'est ce qu'il y a de mieux à faire, essaye de ne pas laisser passer ta chance, et tu finiras peut-être par redevenir toi-même"
that's the long version, you can drop a few details. "si c'est la seule solution, saisis ta chance..." for instance.

What do you think?

Senior Member
<a href="/en/translator/gak2112" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1475611">gak2112</a>
Joined: 27.10.2020

Oingo Boingo - cool! I had not thought about them in quite some time.

I like your suggestions.

Since "frozen heart" seems to be the stumbling block, I will make several comments:
- it's pretty common in English: "cold-hearted", "ice cold"
- "frozen heart", "cold heart", "heart of ice", "fire and ice", "set this cold heart free", "cold as ice" are some examples
- George Jones, Hank Williams, Joe Jackson, Pat Benatar, Gram Parsons, Foreigner respectively
- I added the George Jones song: https://lyricstranslate.com/fr/george-jones-frozen-heart-lyrics.html

I checked the LT "expressions idiomatiques". There is only one reference in English to "cold hearted" (https://lyricstranslate.com/fr/idiom/cold-hearted), but a number of explanations in other languages, most of which are based on "stone" - "heart of stone" - an old Rolling Stones song, "coeur de pierre", "corazón de piedra", "ein Herz aus Stein", "cuore di pietra", among those that I can recognize.

Suggestion: if it is more common in French (and other European languages) to equate "frozen heart" with "coeur de pierre", then maybe we can make this translation:
English: "And then your heart is frozen"
French: "Et puis tu auras le coeur de pierre"

Qu'est-ce que vous en pensez?

Editor whimsical chatterbox
<a href="/en/translator/silenced" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1423036">silenced</a>
Joined: 29.05.2019

I've spent my teenage years listening to Oingo Boingo. I couldn't get 10% of the lyrics back then, but still "Wake up (it's 1984)" led me to read the book. Thank you for that, Mr. Elfman.

"avoir un cœur de pierre" (to be cold-hearted) is ok, but having your heart turn into stone is a bit odd. A French heart could whither or dry up maybe, but it's not quit the same.
It's pretty common in English and German too, but I'm at a loss for a convincing equivalent. A case of tunnel vision I guess, that's why I'd rather ask other natives for help. [@Jadis] or [@floppylou] for instance.

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<a href="/en/translator/jadis" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1387945">Jadis</a>
Joined: 01.07.2018

I find it hard to fancy something, the song sounds to me the same as a thousand alike, and besides I don't like her voice. Sad smile
Perhaps "ton coeur va se glacer" or something.

Senior Member
<a href="/en/translator/gak2112" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1475611">gak2112</a>
Joined: 27.10.2020

Thanks, jadis. I think that silenced wants to avoid if possible references to "glace", "geler", "figer", and so on.

[@floppylou], any ideas? 

It may be that there isn't a great equivalent, and we will have exposed a cultural linguistic gap between the French and English language expressions of romance. Then we will have select one of these least offensive alternatives.

 

Senior Member
<a href="/en/translator/gak2112" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1475611">gak2112</a>
Joined: 27.10.2020

OK, folks, I would like to wrap up this thread.

There doesn't seem to be a lot of additional commentary, and we appear to have several native speakers at odds with the central question of whether a heart, in the French language, can be, or should ever be referred to as, "frozen". There is general acknowledgement that the expression, "cold hearts", in its various permutations, is fairly common in English and German.

In addition, I have evidence, here on LT, that in many Romance languages, idiomatic expressions exist that refer to the "stone"-like properties it may possess in romantic affairs.

Further, I will represent an opinion that I have received from a native French speaker via PM, that provides additional insight in support of a reference to a "frozen heart" in French. To summarize the opinion, "hearts of stone" are, or may become, incapable of feeling emotion, whereas "frozen hearts" cannot be made of stone, and furthermore, may oscillate between the two states of "warm" (in love) and "cold", or "frozen" (forced out of love by another party).

Therefore:
- "and then your heart is frozen" -> "ton coeur sera glacé"
- the heart could not have fallen it love if it were made of stone; it must then operate in this oscillating mode, warm vs cold

The two verses in question, modified, in full form:

Verse 1:
Je connais la musique
T’as un boulet au pied
Qui enferme
Ton histoire dans un cercle vicieux
Dans très peu de temps
Ton cœur sera glacé
C’est maintenant
Qu’il faut que tu t’évades

Verse 2:
T’as tout ce qu’il faut
Qu’est-ce qui te retient ?
N’hésite pas
Que tout t’explose à la figure, beau gosse
Si c’est la seule solution, saisis ta chance
Et tu finiras peut-être par redevenir toi-même

If there are no final thoughts, I will post the results of this discussion in the form of the French translation.

Thanks to all, especially silenced, for your comments and suggestions.

Super Member
<a href="/en/translator/jadis" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1387945">Jadis</a>
Joined: 01.07.2018

True, "avoir un coeur de pierre" looks inherent to me, if you have a heart of stone you will not likely fall in love. But "ton coeur va se congeler" makes me think of my fridge (and especially of the pieces of meat I keep in my freezer...) "Ton coeur va se glacer", or "Ton coeur sera glacé" looks acceptable.

Editor whimsical chatterbox
<a href="/en/translator/silenced" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1423036">silenced</a>
Joined: 29.05.2019

I might think of "avoir le coeur sec", which is sometimes used for heartlessness. "ton cœur va se dessécher" or "ton cœur va (se) faner", maybe? What do you say, Philippe?

Super Member
<a href="/en/translator/jadis" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1387945">Jadis</a>
Joined: 01.07.2018

"ton cœur va se dessécher" is OK to me too.

(Added) Après réflexion, si on tient au coeur de pierre, on pourrait envisager "ton coeur va se pétrifier" aussi.

Senior Member
<a href="/en/translator/gak2112" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1475611">gak2112</a>
Joined: 27.10.2020

Thanks, gentlemen.

I prefer to avoid the "heart of stone" reference, as I believe the song is not about someone who cannot feel emotion.

Since silenced mentioned "wither" in an earlier post, and has provided the verb, "se flaner", which seems like a good middle ground between the messy business of freezing (thanks, jadis - i recalled too late the word for "freezer" - that should have been my clue that "se congeler" was not appropriate), and the unfeeling nature of rock.

Verse 1 (revised):
Je connais la musique
T’as un boulet au pied
Qui enferme
Ton histoire dans un cercle vicieux
Dans très peu de temps
Ton cœur va se flaner
C’est maintenant
Qu’il faut que tu t’évades

Any further thoughts?

Editor whimsical chatterbox
<a href="/en/translator/silenced" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1423036">silenced</a>
Joined: 29.05.2019

Just a spelling mishap: whither is "(se) faner". Strangely enough it can be used in simple or pronominal form, with only a slight difference in meaning (la fleur a fané / la fleur s'est fanée). One form would be preferred over the other in some cases but, in these lyrics, both would work equally well.
"flâner" exists too but has a completely different meaning.

Except for that, it seems ok to me.

Senior Member
<a href="/en/translator/gak2112" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1475611">gak2112</a>
Joined: 27.10.2020

Oops, typo!

Thanks. I saw "se faner", and immediately thought of "flaner", a word that I have known, and appreciated (!) for quite some time.

So:

Verse 1 (revised 2):
Je connais la musique
T’as un boulet au pied
Qui enferme
Ton histoire dans un cercle vicieux
Dans très peu de temps
Ton cœur va se faner
C’est maintenant
Qu’il faut que tu t’évades

OK - we will go to press!