Or if you prefer, elles sont toutes faites en ticky-tacky. I came across this French version of ‘Little Boxes’ the other day and I had to post it – it’s gorgeous. And I immediately knew that my favourite line had to be the name of this post. ‘Ticky-tacky’ is just such a fantastic sounding word, and is not used enough in everyday conversation I feel. Further research into the song led me to discover that the word ‘ticky-tacky’ wasn’t around before Malvina Reynolds wrote the song in the late 60’s, and that the word ‘tacky’, (garish, vulgar, cheap, tasteless, Palin*) has only been around since then. Interesting.

Since this is the French version of the song, I toyed with having the title written in French instead, and tracked down the lyrics via my mate, the ever helpful Google. Then I thought it would be fun to check out what the literal translation of the French lyrics were. You know how sometimes you read the instructions on a product made in another country and sometimes they get the context muddled and it sounds really funny? Take for instance these instructions from a convenience food from Italy:

Besmear a backing pan, previously buttered with a good tomato sauce, and, after, dispose the cannelloni, lightly distanced between them in a only couch

Or this from Japan, on an eraser:

Mr. Friendly Quality Eraser. Mr. Friendly Arrived!! He always stay near you, and steals in your mind to lead you to a good situation

Or my personal favourite, from a Polish restaurant menu:

Salad a firm’s own make; limpid red beet soup with cheesy dumplings in the form of a finger; roasted duck let loose; beef rashers beaten up in the country people’s fashion

Ah, the wonders of language…

Here’s the first verse in English:

Little boxes, on the hillside
Little boxes made of ticky-tacky
Little boxes on the hillside
Little boxes all the same
There’s a green one and a pink one
And a blue one and a yellow one
And they’re all made out of ticky-tacky
And they all look just the same

And here’s the literal translation, according to the online translation site that I used courtesy of Mr. Google.

Small boxes, very narrow
Small boxes made in ticky-tacky
Small boxes, small boxes
Small similar boxes
All has reds, violets and green
The very vain ones
They are done everything in ticky-tacky
And they all are, similar

Petites Boîtes (Little Boxes) – Kate and Anna McGarrigle

Side note: I had no idea that Kate McG was Rufus and Martha Wainwright’s mum til I hit up Wiki for some info.

* I have absolutely no intention to weigh in on the whole US election circus – that’s the only reference you’ll get outta me!

Updated: ‘the only reference you’ll get outta me’ – except for my next post. Then I’ll stop.