Bird is the word

Rorqock

New Member
France , French
Hi all, i have a problem to translate the idiom "Bird is the word" in French, its not difficult to translate that but what it means exactly ?:

Me -" My son needs me , he's hungry."

My friend -" dont you know that the bird is the word?! "




Thank you.
 
  • mgarizona

    Senior Member
    US - American English
    ??? --- is he calling you 'altricial' ???

    My only association with the phrase "bird is the word" is from the old song "Surfin' Bird" by the Trashmen ... (though I confess it was the Ramones version I heard first).
     
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    Rorqock

    New Member
    France , French
    Oh I see, I think you are right because just before that conversation, we were talking about the movie "Full Metal Jacket" (Surfin' Bird is the song of that movie)


    Thank you very much mgarizona :).
     

    Keridwen

    Senior Member
    French -France
    Hi ! I heard this expression several times (in songs, that's right, but not the one mentionned before), and still wonder the exact signification. Seems like a bit like "that's really it!", emphasizing on the fact that the thing mentionned got all the archetypal caracteristics of it, but I wonder of this interpretation is accurate.
     

    mgarizona

    Senior Member
    US - American English
    Interesting Keridwen. I've personally never heard anyone use the expression outside of direct allusion to the song.

    As for the phrase as used in the song, it's easy to understand if you know that "Surfin Bird" by the Trashmen was cobbled together from two older doo-wop songs by a band called The Rivingtons: "Pappa-Oom-Mow-Mow" and "The Bird Is The Word." The latter song is just one of a thousand "dance songs" from the period saying that there's a new dance craze sweeping the nation--- like the Twist or the Locomotion--- this one called "the Bird"

    The phrase "the Bird Is The Word" implies "this new dance, 'the Bird,' is what everybody is talking about right now, it's the hot news of the day.

    Compare that with a phrase like "What's the word?" which is something you might saw when you run into a friend instead of "What's new?"

    We recently lost Gil Scott Heron who released "What's the Word? Johannesburg" in 1975.
     

    Keridwen

    Senior Member
    French -France
    As an example, I can refer to the song "Black Crickets" from D.A.D.
    In this song, the harvest is plagued by black crickets threatening the pioneers survival, until a cunning old man had the idea of building a giant nest, suggesting the presence of a giant bird to frighten the pests.
    the lyrics then goes:
    "They saw the nest the vision occured
    And the dogs would wag their tails
    Crickets all shouted: "Bird is the word"
    The insects hit the trail"

    What do you think about it?
     

    mgarizona

    Senior Member
    US - American English
    As an example, I can refer to the song "Black Crickets" from D.A.D.
    In this song, the harvest is plagued by black crickets threatening the pioneers survival, until a cunning old man had the idea of building a giant nest, suggesting the presence of a giant bird to frighten the pests.
    the lyrics then goes:
    "They saw the nest the vision occured
    And the dogs would wag their tails
    Crickets all shouted: "Bird is the word"
    The insects hit the trail"

    What do you think about it?
    I think you shouldn't look to Danish bands for examples of English usage. Any English-speaker, for example, would have used the word "Locusts" and not "Crickets" in the title of that song. As for "bird is the word" in it? I'm sure they just thought it was funny ... has no sense to it that I can see.
     

    Keridwen

    Senior Member
    French -France
    So I suppose I shouldn't turn to german bands for more examples... though the song "eaglize it" from the Boss Hoss also contains this sentence.
     

    mgarizona

    Senior Member
    US - American English
    So I suppose I shouldn't turn to german bands for more examples... though the song "eaglize it" from the Boss Hoss also contains this sentence.
    OK, now you've got something to play with:

    Take "legalize it"--- common cry here for the legalization of marijuana--- and turn it into 'eagle-ize it' ... which would mean to take whatever it is (or we are) and make eagles out of it: a fine and noble aspiration if you ask me.

    You can look at "Bird is the word" here one of two ways: it's either just a fun reference to a song everyone knows and loves thrown into a song about birds, or it's used pretty much the same way the Rivington's used it in the original song. Now that we've 'eagleized' it, "Bird" is all anyone is talking about, "Bird" is the hot new craze: BIRD is THE WORD! (I suppose you could argue that the same meaning applies, however ridiculously, to the D.A.D. song as well.)

    I can't see the term having any other meaning. With the Rivingtons and Boss Hoss we're given something to relate "the bird" to, which in turn gives the entire phrase meaning. In examples where you encounter "bird is the word" apropos of nothing, figure it's just there for fun. Which is to say, it's used the way the Trashmen used it--- as meaningless wordplay--- as opposed to how the Rivingtons used it: as a meaningful statement, even if only marketing ballyhoo.
     
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