Leonard Cohen On The Difficulty Of Translating Edith Piaf’s Songs

Interviewer: I’ve heard that you have worked on a translation, an adaptation to English, of Edith Piaf’s songs?


It was an idea I proposed for Jennifer Warnes, not for me. I would like to translate certain Piaf songs for Jennifer, but it is very difficult. I tried a few lines. It’s difficult. A phrase such as ‘C’est l’amour qui fait qu’on s’aime”, now, what does this French sentence mean? That love is responsible? That love is a separate force? [a force apart] That love exists? C’est l’amour qui fait qu’on s’aime. It [the meaning] is not exact. You see the problem!


Leonard Cohen


From Rencontre avec Leonard Cohen, video interview with Leonard Cohen by Ina.fr: 1980. Translation by Coco Éclair.


I am republishing selected posts from my former Leonard Cohen site, Cohencentric, here on AllanShowalter.com (these posts can be found at Leonard Cohen). This entry was originally posted March 31, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric.

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