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The 12th Day of Christmas

Le douzième jour de Noël, mon amour m’a donné : douze joueurs de tambour…

(On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: twelve drummers drumming…)

The last line! Now it’s your turn to sing the whole thing…

Le douzième jour - The Twelve Days of Christmas in French

douze batteurs jouant
(twelve drummers drumming)

Well, if you’re still with me, eardrums intact, I say well done you and let’s raise a glass of champagne together to celebrate! I certainly need a drink, I don’t know about you.

This line is, alas, another disappointing compromise. The problem is a “drum” in French is un tambour (a teensy drum being a tamourine, see?)

1 – The word for drummer in a band is a batteur (or batteuse for a lady) – which sensibly means “beater” – and a drum kit is a une batterie (yet electric batteries are… piles! Don’t blame French: we have Benjamin Franklin to thank for calling electric batteries by such a weird name). However, a drummer of the marching band kind would be a “joueur de tambour” (L’enfant au tambour is the French version of “Little Drummer Boy.”)

2. tréma (diaeresis) – No, I haven’t eaten something bad, I’ve just realised I haven’t covered the ë in Noël. This accent (which Germans call an umlaut) is fortunately quite rare in French and simply indicates you need to pronounce both vowels seperately. So it’s “no-ell” not “nole” (also Chloë: clow-ee).

More: 11th Day | The 12 Days of Christmas

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Author info

Gruff Davies

Despite the very Welsh name, Gruff is actually half French. Nowadays, he's a tech entrepreneur (and some-time novelist) but he used to be a physicist at Imperial College before getting hooked on inventing things. He has a special interest in language learning, speaks five languages to varying degrees of fluency and he often blogs about language learning, science, and technology. As well as co-founding Kwiziq, he is the author the Amazon best-selling SF thriller, The Looking Glass Club and the inventor of the Exertris gaming exercise-bike and Pidgin, a free online tool that makes drawing flow charts and relationship diagrams as quick and easy as describing them in pidgin English.

Laura K Lawless

Laura is Kwiziq's Language and Marketing Coordinator. Online educator since '99, Laura is passionate about language, travel, and cooking. She's American by birth and a permanent ex-pat by choice - freelancing made it possible for her to travel extensively and live in several countries before settling permanently in Guadeloupe. Laura is the author of Lawless French, Lawless Spanish, and other websites and books on French, Spanish, English, and vegetarianism. She spends most of her spare time reading, playing with food, and enjoying water sports.

Comments: 1


07 January 2016

Loved every minute of these articles! You've made my 12 days of Christmas so much more interesting. Thank you. Yes, I think you shd audition for Britain's got talent 2016!!!

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