Monday, January 09, 2017

Frenchy-french sing-song list

I have a perfectly legitimate reason for posting this JTRU pic
I can't be the only one who has noticed it but nobody on the Internet has mentioned it, as far as I have been able to find: when francophones say a list of things, they sometimes use a little sing-song lilt at the end of each item.

I noticed this when watching the TV series (now available online) "French in Action"  in this episode of French in Action, you can hear it from Pierre Capretz, the originator of the series, as he lists things invented by the French (near the end of the episode.)

They don't always do it when they list things, but they do it often enough that it's an actual thing.

I don't think English-speakers do it, but maybe I'm just so immersed in the anglophone world I don't notice it.

You can hear Justin Trudeau do it in this video. You knew I couldn't go for more than a day without mentioning JTRU.

He says something like:

Il y'a le énormément influence de le

  • culturelle, (cul-TOO-rell)
  • Des religieux (re-LIH-jooz)
  • Les différents groupes plus conservateurs de la nature (lah NAH-toor)

I wonder if the fact that Trudeau is speaking to someone who represents a group holding a summit on speaking French has something to do with his adopting that sing-song style here. He also does it in this video talking to a francophone interviewer.

When I tried to match the sing-song to notes on a musical scale, it struck me that I had heard something like it before... and then I remembered - I heard it in the opening music of a 1924 silent film from France. Here is the film below, the music I'm talking about starts at minute 0:25. That's what the Frenchy-french sing-song sounds like.

You can see Erik Satie in the film - he's the guy jumping into the frame on the left at minute 0:53. Pretty spry for a guy who died of acute alcoholism only a year later. (Who is Erik Satie? You've heard his work.)

The film is also notable for Paris cityscapes, goofy surrealism, and the wackiest funeral procession ever.