Could a fluent French speaker translate this for me?
March 10, 2013 6:41 PM   Subscribe

I would like to know what the beginning of this song says translated to English from French (I'm assuming it's French; at least that's what it sounds like to me). Also, if there's any relevant information you can give me about the French that would be great (e.g., "It's a quotation from..." or "Everyone in France knows that this means..."). Nicolaas Jaar - Etre (Single Link Vimeo).
posted by uncannyslacks to Media & Arts (8 answers total)
It is definitely French, but I can't quite make it out through the other sounds. You might find this review interesting.
posted by DoubleLune at 7:19 PM on March 10, 2013

I am hearing "me penser" at the beginning (to think) and "tu finis de..." and "finir" is repeated several times ("finir" = "to finish").
posted by DoubleLune at 7:24 PM on March 10, 2013

It starts with: J'ai jamais pensé à ça I never thought of that.

Tu finis du reste .... (I can`t make out the rest of what is said) which could mean a number of things.... sorry.
posted by aroberge at 7:46 PM on March 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

aroberge: "It starts with: J'ai jamais pensé à ça I never thought of that.

Tu finis du reste .... (I can`t make out the rest of what is said) which could mean a number of things.... sorry.

Yes, that's what I got too. Nothing else I'm afraid.
posted by McSly at 8:10 PM on March 10, 2013

Yes some of it is unintelligible to me on the video, I don't know if audio editing software could clean it up...after what the others heard, I hear perhaps "une parole".. "du fini".. (a word.. the finite..)

It sounds like a clip from an interview with someone. Like a friendly conversation on a culture show on the radio, in which someone is interviewing a philosopher or filmmaker. Is it Godard? Though I hate to take a guess because then it'll turn out to be completely far off base.. Maybe you could contact him and ask what the sample is?
posted by citron at 8:36 PM on March 10, 2013

Response by poster: Well, darn it. Maybe I will just have to contact the artist. Thanks for the input, all. Didn't realize the French was so hard to understand.
posted by uncannyslacks at 9:00 PM on March 10, 2013

Best answer: It's from a conversation between Jean-Luc Godard and Serge Daney. The original interview is here. The moment in Nicolaas Jaar's clip starts at 1:08.

Daney: J'avais jamais pensé à ça.
I never though of that.
Godard: Tu finis du reste, heum moi qui habites pas de la, pas loin de la où il a fini; tu finis dans le lac!
You end up, for that matter ehm I who lives not of where, not far of where he ended up; you end up in the lake!
(as he stumbles when he says "not of where" the first time it dosen't make sense so he corrects himself "not far of where")

Okay so context is needed. The interview is titled: american cinema and the rest of the world. Up until the excerpt hes is discussing the influence of american culture over the cinematic field in Europe. He states his loss of "mundanely not being able to doubt or find completely irrelevant a Turkish movie simply because I don't see any". He goes on about the totalitarianism of American influence which he compares to a cultural overlord to a feudal Europe. He mentioned that "we end up being idiotic where we are, and we end up as -- as best as Charles the Bold" this is when both chuckle and there starts the quote.

In a nutshell, Charles the Bold was the last of the Dukes of Burgundy. He was know for his consuming ambition and love of war. Long story short, he set out against France and the German empire. Driven by his love of power he bit more than he could chew and suffered significant loss in the Battle of Grandson against Swiss forces. That didn't stop him. He carried another failed offensive shortly after at the Battle of Morat, along the shores of Lake Murten. His army was quickly circled and crushed by the Swiss who took no prisoners. Thousands of men were killed on the shores of Lake Murten or drowned fleeing the fight.

In his comment, Godard makes a reference to the pointlessness of going against an established realm and how that can lead one to end up "in the lake". Also in French, "ending up in the lake" finir dans le lac or later "falling in water" tomber à l'eau means to fall through. According to the Larousse Dictionnary, that expression originated from the inital meaning of the word Lacs which was used to describe the loop made by a slipknot in a rope. Hence the meaning to fall through, or fail, later also evolved into falling into water because of Lacs double meaning. However this makes me wonder if the expression didn't actually come from this particular battle anecdote but that's another story.

Furthermore, Lake Murten is located in Switzerland in the cantons of Fribourg and Vaud. Near by in Vaud is the village of Rolle, where Jean-Luc Godard actually lives at the moment of the interview up until this day, therefore explaining his comment.

I surely wasn't expecting all of this, it's a nifty quote!
posted by proximacentauri at 1:53 AM on March 11, 2013 [11 favorites]

So it was Godard! I love that. Thank you so much for the follow up and all the context, I kept checking back to see if anyone had found out what it was.
posted by citron at 6:03 PM on March 14, 2013

« Older How do I care less about what my girlfriend is...   |   Is there a good quote or idiom for this sentiment?... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.