Ever gotten hacked? Well, I did recently, and it about drove me crazy. I don’t mean on my computer, though. No, that would have been fairly simple to take care of. This hack came out of nowhere and occurred in my brain!
I don’t know where in the world this came from, but the children’s song, “Alouette” suddenly popped into my head and I started humming it. I hummed it on my walk. I hummed it while I was gardening. And then I actually remembered the words and started singing it indoors. I could not get it out of my mind! It’s an uplifting, bouncy, rousing, fun and happy sort of tune. I actually wish our drawn-out, droll version of Happy Birthday were more like it.
Alouette, gentille alouette. Alouette, je te
plumerai. Je te plumerai la tête?
Je te plumerai la tête. Et la tête! Et la tête! Alouette. Alouette!
Oh, oh, oh, oh
And on and on adding je te plumerai le bec, le cou and more.
I remembered singing it in elementary school. Only my memory is of a group of little children roaring as though we were in the midst of some sort of battle whose win depended on the volume of noise. One side of the classroom would practically yell Et la tête! The other side would then scream back Et la tête! (Back to the first side) ALOUETTE! (Not to be outdone, the decibels escalated.) ALOUETTE! And we’d burst into giggles during the Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh! It seems that the teacher knew just how to let us expend our energy in a confined space. I wonder if she wore ear plugs?
But older me wonders just what does all that mean? What or who is Alouette? What’s a ploomer-ray? As far as I know, no teacher ever translated it for us. Huh. I had no idea. Worse yet, I wonder why has it taken me 67 years to even question what it was I had sung? Oh, great, another thing to ponder over in my old age! Am I the only one who just sang that little song without ever knowing what the words meant? I searched my brain for any French I’d learned in high school from my very strict instructor Miss Pidgeon but could only come up with Je m’appelle Becky.
After stewing about it for a short time, I opened up my computer and found my Go-To source for information: My Facebook Friends. I posted my thoughts and question, and Bing! Instantly I started getting feedback. Thank heaven I am NOT the only one who has no idea what that means. There were even quite a few thanks (NOT) for now having Alouette’s tune stuck in their heads! A few intrepid friends had looked up the translation for me.
Who knew? Alouette means lark. LARK! One of my very favorite birds that I often see on my countryside walks. Gentille Alouette means gentle, nice, or kind lark. What a lovely little song! Je tai means I will. I will what? Plumerai (I looked up) is French for “pluck.” Wait! What? I’m going to pluck my gentle little lark? Eww.
Yup. Turns out when we Baby Boomers were tender little tots joyously singing at the top of our lungs Alouette, we were screaming a war whoop about plucking the daylights out of a helpless little bird. Le tete is head, le bec is beak, le cou is neck – and I stopped there. I couldn’t bear to think of a naked little lark. If I’d known then what we were singing about, I’d probably have cried instead of screamed during the song. Maybe that’s why we were never taught the translation.
So now I know. And I’m sorry I do. I kind of feel like I did sixty years ago when I found out Santa Claus isn’t real. I guess when it comes down to it, sometimes ignorance truly is bliss!