Ukulele & Languages

Different countries,
Different cultures
one common language... the ukulele.

Thomas Fersen, French language and ukulele

04 2011

If you’ve been trying to learn French lately and have used the following method, well… you might have found it dead easy too.

I am however not convinced that you have managed to impress any French speakers.

All right, don’t look so miserable, I do sympathize. Let me try and suggest an alternative method for improving your French vocabulary. An alternative method involving our favourite instrument, the ukulele.

A French singer-songwriter who can help you come up trumps with your French vocabulary is Thomas Fersen. His lyrics are always clever and he really has a way with words.

Here is Thomas Fersen performing Les Cravates (ties) live at the Bataclan.

You can find the lyrics to follow the song here. For better sound (no image), check this video.

How about some deadly vocabulary ? Thomas Fersen in a ukulele session from Le Soir, performing Mon Macabre.

Lyrics and chords for Mon Macabre can be found here

Last but definitely not least,  a song Thomas Fersen wrote about our favourite instrument, called Ukulélé.

Lyrics are available here. Non-French speakers will find my English translation of the song below the video so everyone can get a glimpse of Thomas Fersen‘s universe.

Here is my attempt at translating the song in English so you can fully enjoy the lyrics even if French is not your cup of tea.

Hi customs officer,
I am the bard
Raise your halberd
This tiny bag
This small case
Does not belong to a hitman

It is my shrimp, my tadpole
My guitar runt
My keyring guitar
A doll’s guitar

Muzzle your watch dog
Open your eyes and look
At the bottom of the cave
There lives a genius
Coming out of the dark
When I strum it.

The police officer
Does not want to be bitten
He thinks I am a nutter
At the sound of the Ukulele
He is seized with terror
“This log is really alive!”

“It is my shrimp, my tadpole
My guitar runt
My keyring guitar
Would you like to try it?”

The customs officer is not paying attention
And gets a splinter,
A sliver of wood
In his little finger.
It gets infected,
Alas, he has left us.

There he is in the clouds
With my tiny bag
He reaches paradise
And this is what he says

Hi customs officer,
I am the bard
Raise your halberd
This tiny bag
This small case
Is not that of a machine gun.

It is my shrimp, my tadpole
My guitar runt
My keyring guitar
A doll’s guitar

When the world is too stupid
I take out my little cricket,
When the world is barbed wires
I take out my ukulele.

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6 Comments »

  1. Herman Vandecauter on the 4th of May 2011 @ 22:45

    first video is often reality in schools!

  2. Armelle Europe on the 4th of May 2011 @ 23:08

    Herman: I agree with you, schools are often not the best place to learn languages…

  3. craig robertson on the 4th of May 2011 @ 23:37

    I love Fersen! I just can’t understand half his lyrics….

  4. Al on the 5th of May 2011 @ 10:26

    Wait. So all the comments I’ve left here aren’t in French?

    Good to see you back, Armelle.

    As it happens, that sketch was redone for US TV. Interesting to note the only difference between the two.

  5. Armelle Europe on the 5th of May 2011 @ 18:54

    Craig: I am not surprised you like Fersen. He could qualify for Ukulele Noir too.

  6. Armelle Europe on the 5th of May 2011 @ 19:02

    Al: no they aren’t actually, sorry to disappoint you ;)
    Thanks for mentioning the American version of this sketch, such a huge difference between the UK and US version :)

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