petite anglaise

November 19, 2006


Filed under: Tadpole sings — petiteanglaiseparis @ 9:44 pm

I caught Tadpole singing this rather disturbing little song this evening in the bath, which mamie apparently taught her. It’s rather a coincidence that she should sing it now, as St Catherine’s day is on November 25th.

A Catherinette, according to French tradition, is a woman who has reached the ripe old age of twenty five and remains unmarried and “pure”, as St Catherine herself is the patron saint of unmarried girls. At thirty-four, I am not only long past my sell by date, but an unmarried mother to boot, so I regret that I won’t be donning green and yellow headgear on the day of my fête.

Dodo Dinette,
Saint Catherinette,
Endormez-moi cet enfant,
jusqu’à l’âge de vingt ans.
Quand elle aura vingt ans sonné,
on pourra la marier!


  1. It’s funny to notice how Tadpole’s command of the language is improving.
    Even funnier is the fact that her grandmother would teach such a song to a 3-year old. Maybe a hidden message towards Tadpole’s mother?

    Comment by pardonmyfrench — November 19, 2006 @ 10:40 pm

  2. You’re encountering the ‘charme discret de la bourgeoisie’. Things Can Only Get Better…er, can’t they?

    Comment by andrew — November 19, 2006 @ 10:57 pm

  3. She’s so cute. Wish I had her pronunciation and not my horrid American accent. I’ll just have to learn from her! :)

    Comment by mpcc — November 19, 2006 @ 11:05 pm

  4. Awwwww. That is a sweet little voice if ever I heard one. It’s a shame I don’t speak a word of French, otherwise I’d probably appreciate that even more :)

    Comment by Ignorminious — November 19, 2006 @ 11:16 pm

  5. heaps better! :o)

    Comment by simon — November 20, 2006 @ 12:02 am

  6. How adorable singing ;) Forget about the lyrics ;)
    and her frensh is really good!

    Comment by Stjernesol — November 20, 2006 @ 12:39 am

  7. Did you really WANT to don green and yellow headgear??!! Not very flattering really!

    Great singing T.


    Comment by Sally Lomax — November 20, 2006 @ 12:51 am

  8. Tadpole, can we hear the chinese version of this song?

    Comment by Isabella — November 20, 2006 @ 12:52 am

  9. I agree with posts 1 & 2. Mamie taught her that one? Um, Ouch.

    Your little girl is sounding like such an adorable little French mademoiselle. Her speech has come sooo far in such a short time, makes us second language learners feel like the toddlers!

    Comment by California Reader — November 20, 2006 @ 5:03 am

  10. How do you get to record these? Does she sing them again after you get out the recorder and microphone?
    Very nice.

    Comment by joeinvegas — November 20, 2006 @ 5:54 am

  11. Catherine,
    “Long past my sell by date”

    Do you really feel regret? I feel there is a hint of melancholy in the thread of your blog ( overall)…the link between your name and the day…
    (just a thought)
    Once again the roller coaster ride….

    Comment by simon — November 20, 2006 @ 7:44 am

  12. I love it when you ‘publish’ Tadpole singing. As for the fact that mamie taught her this one, it’s surely just because it is St. Catherine’s day soon. Tadpole sounds as though she consider’s it a joke, don’t you think? – or is it because she knows you are recording her?
    My daughter Catherine is about your age and though not exactly ‘pure’ has not yet found a Mr Right, let alone produced a child. She feels her biological clock ticking away while you’ve been there, done that, worn the tee-shirt. . . . and there’s a sweet little girl to prove it. When life hits you hard you still have her to put a bit of sparkle back.
    Hope you’re not feeling down at the moment.
    Hugs all round.

    Comment by Sablonneuse — November 20, 2006 @ 10:42 am

  13. How Much for the little one? :-)

    Comment by Discombobulator — November 20, 2006 @ 11:15 am

  14. Can the next book please be:
    Tadpole Tales
    It would be nice if there could be sound bite buttons too…
    I love the Tadpole Chronicles :)

    Comment by ParisBreakfasts — November 20, 2006 @ 12:21 pm

  15. If you’re “long past” at 34, what does that make me at 45? Someone appears to have brainwashed you, dear petite, into thinking you “should” marry young, or even at all. Don’t worry so much about the “shoulds” in life because they’re usually OTHER people’s ideas of what’s best rather than your own.

    Comment by The Bold Soul — November 20, 2006 @ 1:00 pm

  16. I record these, with the mic on my headphones and a free app called “wavepad” which allows me to edit the sound and reduce background noise and stuff. The whole process inevitably makes Tadpole do a self-conscious giggle.

    As for me, I’m mostly very happy with my single girl status. Mostly. Nearly always. But not quite always.

    Comment by petite — November 20, 2006 @ 1:31 pm

  17. Aww how adorable!

    Comment by Fee — November 20, 2006 @ 1:50 pm

  18. J’espère que ta belle-mère (qui est sans doute, à tous égards, une femme charmante… enfin, je n’en sais rien) n’avait pas d’arrière-pensée douteuse en apprenant cette chanson à la fille d’une Catherine…

    Comment by Ménille Avénale — November 20, 2006 @ 2:45 pm

  19. Makes you wonder why Catherine is such a common name in France, given it’s connotations with spinsterhood – maybe the mother in a bad marriage and not wanting her progeny to endure same fate!? On the other hand the English word association with the name is sparkling, dazzling, energetic and very, very pretty – think 5/11/1605.

    Comment by j — November 20, 2006 @ 3:20 pm

  20. St Catherine is a lot more interesting than just the patron saint of unmarried girls– in fact St Catherine of Alexandria was married to the baby Jesus! The story goes (if I’m not mistaken): one day the young girl met an old hermit who gave her a gravure of the Virgin Mary. He told her to go home and pray to her and she would dream of her future husband. St Catherine duly went home and dreamt of the baby Jesus, who refused to marry her because she wasn’t Catholic. So she converted, and then the baby Jesus came to her in a vision and put a ring on her finger!

    (BTW This figures in my novel– as you know you share a name with my heroine. I don’t usually go around telling saint stories or anything, too much of a sinner for that…)

    Comment by maitresse — November 20, 2006 @ 4:58 pm

  21. It is abit rough to be named after the event. Still my name means constant happiness, which is another obvious joke, so cheer up! x

    Comment by fjl — November 20, 2006 @ 5:02 pm

  22. Merci pour le souvenir. My father would sing it for me when I was a baby. I didn’t remember that was him that taught me that song. Nobody knew Dad could sing, even his sisters were surprised. Last year, my brother found the old tape recorder (with the huge tapes),changed a few parts and made us hear that scene about me not going to bed and Dad singing that song till *he* falls asleep, and Mum says “Toi, tu vas au lit. Click”. That was so weird to hear my voice over 30 years ago. Maybe in 2040, you’ll listen to that song again with a grown-up Tadpole.

    For me that was “dodo Minette” (here, minette means kitten). And “a la violette” instead of Catherinette. That’s probably the Revolutionnary variation. Or Dad’s invention ?
    I had never made the relation with “coiffer ste Catherine”. There was certainly one at the origine, 1000 years ago, when life was really tough for women without a husband, and when life expectancy was less than 40.
    In my family all the baby girls have heard that song, among many others. Sainte Catherine was a major saint, not only for unmarried girls. I was always told that she was one of the saints that talked to Jeanne (d’Arc) and that she protected all the French little girls. You won’t like it : she protects us against the English. D’apres les archives de mon village, de 1200 a 1940, les 3/4 des filles s’appelaient Marie,Catherine ou Jeanne sans compter les Marie-Catherine et autres combinaisons. C’etait plus paysan que bourgeois.

    Comment by Kuri — November 20, 2006 @ 6:10 pm

  23. Just a little more about Catherinette from a french guy (hating those traditions by the way).

    You are not supposed to wear that horrible green and yellow headgear but a not less horrible one containing objects related to your job.
    That would mean having flowers and gardening tools if you are a gardener…etc

    So what would be your headgear like petite ?

    Comment by Benjamin — November 20, 2006 @ 6:53 pm

  24. Don’t give a second thought to the hat, at best it’s a carnival rig and my first thought was, “oh dear a cabbage costume”
    your mil and mine should talk, they may just kill each other with critism!

    Comment by Lara — November 20, 2006 @ 7:02 pm

  25. Oh my goodness thats a hat in you picture?!?
    I thought it was a rather new-agey vase of flowers.

    Comment by Whisper — November 20, 2006 @ 8:00 pm

  26. Oh, I melted and called my Belgian man through to listen too.

    Thanks for posting a little piece of sunshine on a cold wet Belgian day :)

    Comment by Di — November 20, 2006 @ 8:01 pm

  27. Sigh, Part II … the Belgian is fluent in 4 languages.

    I tried to read the words out to him.
    He asked me what I was trying to say.
    I said, ‘It’s French ………….. I can’t speak it can I?’

    He said, ‘No, you’ve proven that now. I’m sorry.’
    He’s coming to read the French … sigh.

    Comment by Di — November 20, 2006 @ 8:03 pm

  28. The things one learns on this blogsite. Merci Kuri!

    Comment by Welsh Cake — November 20, 2006 @ 8:50 pm

  29. One should not conclude from Kuri’s excellent history lesson that Catherine has negative connotations in French. It was a very popular first name in my generation (not that long ago!), although, sadly, it is now rather out of fashion.


    Comment by ontario frog — November 20, 2006 @ 10:17 pm

  30. Thats so amazing, though I wonder what else tadpole is being taught!

    Comment by Cornishfrog — November 21, 2006 @ 12:28 am

  31. Re #20 –

    I thought that Jesus was Jewish???!!!


    p.s. Petite – Showed the clip to the family and they all think that Tadpole is adorable!!!
    p.p.s 16 year old daughter thinks that Mamie is a bit out of order!!!!

    Comment by Sally Lomax — November 21, 2006 @ 1:24 am

  32. Little kids have the cutest voices, especially in French.

    Comment by Julie — November 21, 2006 @ 5:31 am

  33. How lovely! She seems to really pick up songs well!

    Isn’t it “Sainte” Catherinette?

    Comment by Karma — November 21, 2006 @ 5:56 pm

  34. Am I really the ONLY person that thinks it great that Tadpole has someone to teach her such little oddities? She is too cute!

    Comment by teeweewonders — November 22, 2006 @ 1:12 am

  35. Thank you for sharing it with us – I have learnt a lot more about my (our) name now. Here in Italy you often get given nougat on St Catherine’s Day – and with it being my name day I usually get double!

    Comment by Catherine — November 22, 2006 @ 11:48 am

  36. Petite, I am your age and I don’t have a Tadpole. I probably never will. I won’t rant on about how men come and go blah blah blah because I know that you know how lucky you are to have such a charming, intelligent and downright hilarious little person in your life.

    Comment by Polly — November 22, 2006 @ 4:43 pm

  37. wow! Thanksgiving Day! i want turkey!
    I had never made the relation with “coiffer ste Catherine”. There was certainly one at the origine, 1000 years ago, when life was really tough for women without a husband, and when life expectancy was less than 40.

    Comment by yoyoma — November 23, 2006 @ 11:42 am

  38. Oh the memories… I remember having learnt this song and many others in elementary school… it was in the late ’50s (yes, i’m that old). Only, the words I learned par coeur were slightly different. Jugez vous-même:
    Endormez ma p’tite enfant
    Jusqu’à l’âge de quinze ans
    Quand quinze ans aura passé
    Il faudra la marier.
    It seems that the sell-by date was somehow heightened some time in the past 40 years?

    Comment by Géronimo — November 26, 2006 @ 6:33 am

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