The 7th Day of Christmas

Le septième jour de Noël, mon amour m’a donné : sept cygnes sur l’eau…

(On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: seven swans a-swimming…)

Maybe I need more reverb?

Le septième jour - The Twelve Days of Christmas in French

sept cygnes nageurs
(seven swans a-swimming)

1. le cygne (the swan) – tricky to pronounce, the ‘c‘ is soft and it’s got a nasal ‘-gne‘ – sort of like saying “senior” with a terribly blocked nose.

2. sur l’eau – (on the water) If we wanted to stay really close to “swimming” we could have used nageurs (swimmers) as in “swan swimmers,” but that sounds just as forced in French as it does in English. Cygnes sur l’eau has a lovely alliteration and poetry to it, and sounds more natural. As we’ve already established, “cygnes nageant” (swans swimming) just doesn’t work in French and you’ll get funny stares. Notice that since cygne is masculine, we have nageurs and not nageuses.

I’ve always wondered how you would wrap (emballer) swimming swans as a gift (un cadeau), in any case? Surely the water would ruin (abîmer) the wrapping paper (le papier cadeau)?

More: 6th Day | The 12 Days of Christmas | 8th Day

Author info

Gruff Davies

[Follow on Twitter: @gruffdavies] 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 a French expert and Kwiziq's Head of Quality Control. 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, Italian, English, and vegetarianism. She spends most of her spare time reading, playing with food, and enjoying water sports.