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  1. #1
    megalodon is offline Newbie
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    Default Understanding text difficulties

    Hi,

    I've come across a nice song of The Boggs called Arm In Arm. The shy child mix sounds pretty cool to me and I wished to see the lyrics as they are not fully comprehensible since it is a mix. I've found the lyrics. However, I fail to understand many lines of the lyrics. I've done some dictionary work and that has been usuful. But some of the lines remain unclear to me, although I know every word's meaning.

    Code:
    One come along with a bit of night between
    Felt a little ping rattling and the nothing new
    Laughing and laughing or trying to. Trying to stop
    Smiling like a Kuster Beat-on when the ships gone down
    
    Down along canals, battles of the loud boys flow
    Holy hail raindrops rattling rooftop drains
    Scuffle on the downward, scurry up the higher climb
    Puzzle placed stones as the dull drums bleat above.
    
    “Walking arm in arm, and we’re on our way.”
    “Dressed in my best lest you guess my age.”
    “Let your finger linger through the coming day.”
    “We’re on our way.”
    
    Misapplied step taken less than assured
    Tumble on my tummy like a trampoline props me up
    Feeling at the bump sprouting up this second head
    Chattering on, the prattle battering my wits to shreds.
    
    “Walking arm in arm, and we’re on our way. “
    “Dressed in my best lest you guess my age.”
    “Let your fingers linger through the coming day.”
    “We’re on our way.”
    
    One comes and a bit uneasy does he
    Perch on her shoulder to appraise the view
    Heave! “We’ve lost our way, have we?”
    “No, I believe we’ll make it through.”
    
    “Walking arm in arm, and we’re on our way.” 
    “Dressed in my best lest you guess my age.”
    “Let your finger linger through the coming day.”
    “We’re on our way.”
    These are the complete lyrics.
    One of the things that I cannot understand is this:
    "One come along with a bit of night between".
    If someone could explain what is meant here, I would apperiate it a lot.

    Another issue is: "Smiling like a Kuster beat-on when the ship's gone down". What is a "kuster beat-on"?

    I would fail to translate "Misapplied step taken less than assured" and "Let your finger linger through the coming day.", aswell.

    And finally, I was wondering about this line: "Heave! “We’ve lost our way, have we?”. Is it not supposed to be "haven't we" as it is a tag?

    I thank you for your help.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
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    Lightbulb Re: Understanding text difficulties

    Hi Megalodon,

    A lot of these lyrics seem to have no literal meaning, or only the song writer knows what they mean. Also, unless they're the "official" lyrics they may not be accurate since the vocals are quite heavily distorted.

    1) "One [person] come along with a bit of night between" - For "come" read "came" or "comes" (slang); "a bit of night between" I guess just means it's dark, but this isn't a standard expression. To me it sounds like it could be "a bit of lag (i.e. distance) between", which would make more sense.

    2) "Smiling like a Kuster beat-on when the ship's gone down" - Honestly no idea. "To beat on" is slang for "to attack, beat up", here turned into a noun or an adjective (I can't tell!); "Kuster" may be a reference to the famous General Custer??

    3) "Misapplied step taken less than assured" - Poetic expression. More literally, "[he/she] took an unassured, misapplied step" i.e. he/she tripped over. It could also be meant figuratively here.

    4) "Let your finger linger through the coming day" - This could mean almost anything, it depends on how you interpret the song.

    5) "We’ve lost our way, have we?" - This line is very subtle, so get ready.

    "Haven't we" and "have we" as tags can have very different meanings. "Haven't we" would be asking for straight yes or no confirmation; "have we" is rhetorical.

    So:

    You've been to London, haven't you? = asking for a yes or no answer.

    You've been to London, have you? = I know that you have been to London, I don't need confirmation. "Have you" emphasises the tone of the question, which could be angry, threatening, patronising or surprised.

    In the context of this song, the line "We've lost our way, have we?" seems to be said by an adult to a child. The first person plural "we" is used instead of second person singular "you" - it is sometimes used in this way to indicate authority or protective patronage, e.g. between an adult and a child. I also think there is a threatening tone to the line here, but that depends on how you interpret the song.

    I hope that helps! Song lyrics can be very difficult, sometimes impossible, to translate into another language. Does anyone else have any ideas about these lyrics?

  3. #3
    Naamplao is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Understanding text difficulties

    Quote Originally Posted by megalodon View Post
    Hi,

    I've come across a nice song of The Boggs called Arm In Arm. The shy child mix sounds pretty cool to me and I wished to see the lyrics as they are not fully comprehensible since it is a mix. I've found the lyrics. However, I fail to understand many lines of the lyrics. I've done some dictionary work and that has been usuful. But some of the lines remain unclear to me, although I know every word's meaning.

    Code:
    One come along with a bit of night between
    Felt a little ping rattling and the nothing new
    Laughing and laughing or trying to. Trying to stop
    Smiling like a Kuster Beat-on when the ships gone down
    
    Down along canals, battles of the loud boys flow
    Holy hail raindrops rattling rooftop drains
    Scuffle on the downward, scurry up the higher climb
    Puzzle placed stones as the dull drums bleat above.
    
    “Walking arm in arm, and we’re on our way.”
    “Dressed in my best lest you guess my age.”
    “Let your finger linger through the coming day.”
    “We’re on our way.”
    
    Misapplied step taken less than assured
    Tumble on my tummy like a trampoline props me up
    Feeling at the bump sprouting up this second head
    Chattering on, the prattle battering my wits to shreds.
    
    “Walking arm in arm, and we’re on our way. “
    “Dressed in my best lest you guess my age.”
    “Let your fingers linger through the coming day.”
    “We’re on our way.”
    
    One comes and a bit uneasy does he
    Perch on her shoulder to appraise the view
    Heave! “We’ve lost our way, have we?”
    “No, I believe we’ll make it through.”
    
    “Walking arm in arm, and we’re on our way.” 
    “Dressed in my best lest you guess my age.”
    “Let your finger linger through the coming day.”
    “We’re on our way.”
    These are the complete lyrics.
    One of the things that I cannot understand is this:
    "One come along with a bit of night between".
    If someone could explain what is meant here, I would apperiate it a lot.

    Another issue is: "Smiling like a Kuster beat-on when the ship's gone down". What is a "kuster beat-on"?

    I would fail to translate "Misapplied step taken less than assured" and "Let your finger linger through the coming day.", aswell.

    And finally, I was wondering about this line: "Heave! “We’ve lost our way, have we?”. Is it not supposed to be "haven't we" as it is a tag?

    I thank you for your help.
    The song is a poem put to music. Poetry at the best of times is often difficult to translate. When it is a modern genre song full of difficult idiom, it is almost impossible.

    If you want another impossible song to look at try this one.

    Paul Simon | Mother & Child Reunion lyrics

    This Paul Simon song has been debated for many years. The title "Mother and Child Reunion" is supposed to be named after a chinese chicken and egg dish of all things. The song has nothing to do with eating though.

    The beat is nice...the words flow...great tune but not worth analyzing from an English language point of view. The same can be said for many songs.

  4. #4
    megalodon is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Understanding text difficulties

    Thank you. Thank you both - your spared time is very much appreciated.

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