February 26th, 2010

je suis plus trill

Actually, the song translates best as "Fuck You, Everybody"

So, as a project to keep my mind occupied during a particularly miserable work week, I decided to come up with a "definitive" English translation of Edith Piaf's classic chanson, "Non, je ne regrette rien". I thought it might be a fun challenge, not only to test my translation skills, but because I couldn't find a widely accepted English version.

It turned out to be incredibly hard, for a number of reasons:

1. My French is pretty bad.

2. Even if my French wasn't rotten, artistic translation is much harder that straight-up conversational language skill.

3. The song uses a lot of colloquial language and abbreviations, which makes it difficult to translate in a literal way. (This did work at least to a certain degree in my favor, since it meant I could play equally loose with the English grammar.)

4. I was determined to keep more or less the same meter, scansion, etc., which was hard because the phrasing in the song is very idiosyncratic.

5. I was also determined to maintain a rhyme scheme, which was even har4der, because the original French version doesn't even rhyme at several key moments.

So, like most of the things of this nature I set out to do, it was pretty much a fool's errand from the get-go, but I did it anyway. Here's the result; I'm especially unhappy with lines 15 and 16, but it's really a miracle I finished doing this at all. People who speak French or write songs, please feel free to laugh at me.

FRENCH LYRICS * MY CRAPPY TRANSLATION

Non, rien de rien * No, nothing at all
Non, je ne regrette rien * No, I regret nothing at all
Ni le bien qu'on m'a fait * Not the good I can see
Ni le mal, tout ça m'est bien égal * Or the bad, it’s all equal to me

Non, rien de rien * No, nothing at all
Non, je ne regrette rien * No, I regret nothing at all
C'est payé, balayé, oublié * It’s all paid, swept away
Je me fous du passé * I don’t care for yesterday

Avec mes souvenirs * Now with my memories
J'ai allumé le feu * I am lighting a fire
Mes chagrins, mes plaisirs * I no longer have need
Je n'ai plus besoin d'eux * Of my pains and desires
Balayées les amours * Sweep away all my love
Avec leurs trémolos * All my troubles are gone
Balayées pour toujours * Swept away for all time
Je repars à zero * I am starting with none

Non, rien de rien * No, nothing at all
Non, je ne regrette rien * No, I regret nothing at all
Ni le bien qu'on m'a fait * Not the good I can see
Ni le mal, tout ça m'est bien égal * Or the bad, it’s all equal to me

Non, rien de rien * No, nothing at all
Non, je ne regrette rien * No, I regret nothing at all
Car ma vie car mes joies * Life and joy start anew
Aujourd'hui, ça commence avec toi * From today, it’s all starting with you