OK, so a music post, but one with a bit of a story, at least.
I was listening to the radio last week – something I’ve been doing a lot more of during lockdown – and on came this song with some French lyrics in it. Now, the majority of the song was Baxter Dury languidly describing some bad event in his love life, coupled with an addictive little keyboard synth strings riff, but then there was this French bit. I was hooked, but the French had me a little stumped. Initially, at least.
I often joke that I can speak just enough French, German and Afrikaans not to get by. This time, I managed immediately to identify:
Ce n’est pas mon probleme.
It’s not my problem.
But then things went massively astray, because I thought I heard:
Je ne suis pas ton chien.
Which translates as “I’m not your dog”.
Now, I could remember Madame Clarke telling us that when we were doing listening tests in French, you could give yourself a little advantage by looking at the hypothetical situation and thinking what might be being said. It’s all about context. For example, if you are in a supermarket and you are asking where the wine section is, the assistant is unlikely to tell you that the trees in Morocco are very green at this time of year. Unless you’re both spies introducing yourselves to one another. But that was never a thing in GCSE French.
Maybe it should have been.
Applying that advice to this situation, I really didn’t think that Baxter would be telling someone that he wasn’t their dog. I’ve listened to a lot of bitter, heartbroken love songs* in my time, and this was a sentiment that I’d not heard expressed before.
So that clearly couldn’t be it.
But that’s what it sounded like.
And guess what?
Brilliant song (best of 2020 so far, IMHO), brilliant single shot video as dawn breaks over Benidorm. And yes – Baxter Dury is not your dog.
I’m well aware that Je ne suis pas ton chien is hardly higher grade French – you probably conjugated être and did pets in your very first term.
But hearing something over your shoulder in a foreign language while you are cleaning the dishwasher [#glamour] and having the confidence to stick with your original translation despite the clear lack of context, [several] years after your last French lesson?
I’m happy enough. Happier than Baxter, certainly.
* far too many actually, now I start to think about it. [sad face emoji]