Le neuvième jour de Noël, mon amour m’a donné : neuf jolies danseuses…
(On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: nine ladies dancing…)
I’ve never liked this line. “Ladies dancing”? I mean come on! First “geese a-laying” and now this! Such a half-hearted commitment to alliteration is despicable. And to think, it could so have easily been “women waltzing”. Unfortunately, in French, we can’t do much better.
1. jolies danseuses (pretty dancers). Okay, this isn’t ladies dancing because “dansant” doesn’t work; however, when we use “danseuses” (dancers) the fact they are ladies is already captured since danseuses is feminine! It would be weird to say “dames danseuses” since the gender is already contained in the word. To make this line singable, after much experimenting we discovered we really needed two extra syllables (we tried belles but one syllable wasn’t enough), so we plumped for pretty: joli/jolie which doesn’t changed the sense too much. Hopefully your grand amour isn’t going to send “ugly dancers” (moches danseuses).