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View Full Version : What does Frere Jacques mean?


Jinx
05-05-2007, 07:08 AM
Ok, I wasn't the best French student, but where in the world do the lyrics say "morning bells are ringing"? What does this song say, if translated literally? A bell is la cloche! Here is the line in French "Sonnez les matines" What the hay?
:mad: (I suffered through 4 years of that language! And, this is exactly why!)
- Jinx

AveDementia
05-05-2007, 07:18 AM
Matins are a church service in the early morning, so the "morning bells" would be ringing for that.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matins

That's all I recall from my high school French for that song.

Also, there's an entry for the song on Wiki.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fr%C3%A8re_Jacques

Full Metal Lotus
05-05-2007, 07:30 AM
Father Jack, father Jack,
are you sleeping, are you sleeping,
morning bells are ringing, morning bells are ringing are you sleeping?

litterally a jibe at preists that overslept morning mass


but it was also a subtle poke at the catholic church.. they were sleeping while protestantism grew...


FML

Pixisis
05-05-2007, 07:33 AM
Frere Jacques - Brother John (probably monk)
Dormez vous ? - Are you sleeping ?
Sonnes les matines - Morning bells are ringing (lit Matins are sounding)
Ding - Dang - Dong - sound of bells


So, this monk doesn't show up for morning prayer, probably because he's still asleep, and someone is wondering where he is.


All in all, much nicer than Alouette ...

detop
05-05-2007, 07:43 AM
Frere Jacques would be better translated by Brother James

RickJay
05-05-2007, 08:03 AM
Yeah, Jacques is closer to James, or Jacob.

And actually, the English version "morning bells are ringing" isn't what the French version says; the French is "Sonnez les matines," which is "Ring the bells." It's a command in the imperative tense.

Brother James, Brother James,
Are you sleeping? Are you sleeping?
Ring the (morning prayer) bells, ring the (morning prayer) bells,
Ding-dang-dong, ding-dang-dong.

It's not "Stairway to Heaven," but it's got a beat and you can dance to it.

Kalhoun
05-05-2007, 08:49 AM
I always heard it translated to "Brother John."

Eureka
05-05-2007, 09:05 AM
I always heard it translated to "Brother John."

Yes, but. . . I think that's a stylistic thing. John is easier to sing/better vowel/fits rhythmically/all that kind of stuff, rather than an attempt to directly translate the actual name precisely.

And it's really the same thing with "Morning bells are ringing".

Any time you translate verse,* and especially song lyrics one has to strike a balance between rhythm, meaning, and prettiness.

*I started with poetry, but that's rather a grand title for this little bit of a song.

BrainGlutton
05-05-2007, 12:05 PM
I always heard it translated to "Brother John."

It adds to the confusion that in English, "Jack" is traditionally a nickname for "John," not for "James."

Annie-Xmas
05-05-2007, 12:18 PM
Yes, but. . . I think that's a stylistic thing. John is easier to sing/better vowel/fits rhythmically/all that kind of stuff, rather than an attempt to directly translate the actual name precisely.

And it's really the same thing with "Morning bells are ringing".

Any time you translate verse,* and especially song lyrics one has to strike a balance between rhythm, meaning, and prettiness.

*I started with poetry, but that's rather a grand title for this little bit of a song.

The people who translate songs for a living making beaucoup bucks. It is a very very hard thing to do.

Odesio
05-05-2007, 03:45 PM
I have a boardgame called Mystery of the Abbey which is a Clue like game where you try to discover who pushed Brother Adelmo down to his death at the bottom of a ravine. Yeah, I think it's clear that it The Name of the Rose by Uberto Ecco was the inspiration.

Anyway, during the course of the game you draw an event card at the beginning of the day for Matins which affects how the game is played until the next day. One of the cards you draw requires everyone in the game to sing Brother John. Sorry, that's my only Brother John story. My favorite card in the game requires everyone to speak in Gregorian Chant until the next day.

Marc

Mister Rik
05-05-2007, 05:07 PM
Hermano Juan, Hermano Juan
¿Duermen? ¿Duermen?
Suene los matines! Suene los matines!

dangermom
05-05-2007, 05:19 PM
Oh yeah? Well,

Mester Jakob, Mester Jakob,
Sover du? Sover du?
Hører du ej klokken?
Hører du ej klokken?
Din dan don, din dan don.

Mister Rik
05-05-2007, 05:37 PM
never mind

Rico
05-05-2007, 07:26 PM
My grandmother got bit by a møøse.

Jinx
05-06-2007, 08:15 AM
Thanks, all...I never knew it had a religious note to it! By the way, we cannot talk about a song without giving Durran Durran an honorable mention! ;)

Jinx
05-06-2007, 08:16 AM
My grandmother got bit by a møøse.

The moose in this thread has been sacked. :cool:

Dr. Drake
05-06-2007, 09:59 AM
Apparently the French have a thing about oversleeping. I looked up the lyrics because I didn't believe RickJay about the imperative (he's right, though) and right next to it I found:

Meunier, tu dors (Miller, you're sleeping)
Ton moulin (Your mill)
Va trop vite (Is going too fast)
Va trop fort (Is going to forcefully)

It's a different tune, and the lyrics repeat in a more complicated order, but you can make it fit.

There's also another one about bells:

Maudit sois-tu, carillonnuer (Curse you, bell-ringer)
Toi qui naquis pour mon malheur! (You who were born for my misery!)
Dès le point du jour à la cloche il s'accroche, (From dawn he hangs on the bell)
Et le soir encor' carillonne plus fort (And in the evening he rings still more forcefully)
Quand sonnera-t-on la mort du sonneur? (When will they sound the bell-ringer's death?)

Rhiannon8404
05-06-2007, 12:11 PM
We used to sing this version as kids:

Fray Felipe, Fray Felipe
Duermes tu? Duermes tu?
Toca las companas, toca las companas
Ding, dong, ding
Ding, dong, ding

At least this is how I remember it. With the line "Toca las companas" meaning "Ring the bells" not "bells ringing".

chowder
05-06-2007, 12:18 PM
"Hey vicar, stop supping that bloody sacramental wine and get down the church you idle git"

Bambi Hassenpfeffer
05-06-2007, 12:53 PM
Hermano Juan, Hermano Juan
¿Duermen? ¿Duermen?
Suene los matines! Suene los matines!
:eek: MY EYES! :eek:

Mister Rik
05-06-2007, 08:08 PM
:eek: MY EYES! :eek:
Huh? I actually have no idea if that makes any sense. I just put the French into my translation software and that's what it spit out (except I changed the name to Juan, because the software didn't know what to do with "Jacques").

Bambi Hassenpfeffer
05-06-2007, 08:37 PM
Huh? I actually have no idea if that makes any sense. I just put the French into my translation software and that's what it spit out (except I changed the name to Juan, because the software didn't know what to do with "Jacques").
It was my (supposed-to-be-)funny way of saying that your Spanish version has little to nothing to do with the meaning of the song.

Googling around, I found this, which is closer in meaning:

"Campanero, campanero,
¿duermes ya, duermes ya?
Toca las campanas, toca las campanas
din don dan, din don dan."

Other versions substitute "Martinillo, Martinillo" or other names for the first line.

Mr. Rosewater
05-06-2007, 09:34 PM
never mind
眠っている兄弟ジョン眠ったり、であるか。兄弟ジョンか。朝の鐘は、朝の鐘鳴っている鳴っている

Here ya go.

Mister Rik
05-06-2007, 09:44 PM
?????????????????????????????????????????????

Here ya go.
Thanks :)

I don't know what it is. Somebody else types kanji (or hangul, or Chinese) here, I can read it just fine. If I type it in myself, it appears in the text box, but when I hit "Submit Reply" all I get are question marks in my post. I've got my browser set for Unicode (UTF-8), so I don't know what's going on. I thought I had this figured out a while back. Mac discrimination, that's what it is.

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