Songs, subtitles, and the beach at Sète

Quite a while back, I came across a site that used to be called Universal Subtitles but now seems to call itself Amara.

You can submit a video via a URL of “an Ogg, WebM, flv, mp4, Youtube, Vimeo or Dailymotion video.” There’s also a script capability. Once you upload the video, you can enter or upload subtitles, and then synchronize to the video.

You can probably see lots of ways to apply this. I thought I’d enter the lyrics to a few songs, especially ones not well known to English speakers.  And since Amara lets you provide subtitles in multiple languages, I tried a few songs by Georges Brassens, a French singer-poet known throughout the francophone world, but who’s about as well known to English speakers as… most French-speaking singer-poets not named Jacques Brel.

In this song, he’s asking to be buried not in a cemetery, but on the beach at Sète, his home town (about 50 miles west of Marseille).

The control in the bottom left corner of the video lets you choose subtitles in English or in French; they’ll appear as the video plays, and you can switch between languages on the fly. (Although the embed code is finicky; I hope they’re working on something a bit more reliable for WordPress blogs.)

This seems like a great way to help connect the written words of a language with native speech (in this case, with Brassens’s distinctive accent), among many other things.

Besides, this is a terrific song. It’s a shame I don’t know more people who speak French, or I’d ask to include it at my funeral.

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