Les Intraduisibles : Yaourter Ou Chanter En Yaourt

It’s a situation that’s happened to all of us before…we open the fridge and just jam out with the yoghurts (yaourt). No, just kidding. The French phrase “chanter en yaourt” actually has nothing to do with dairy products, but is used when we make up lyrics to songs that we don’t really know. For example:

Beaucoup de chanteurs disent qu’ils chantent en yaourt.
Many singers say they fumble the lyrics.

There are many ways to “chanter en yaourt”: it could be replacing lyrics with sounds or words that sound similar, it could be fake-singing in a different language (fans singing ‘dorito’ and ‘burrito’ in a performance of Justin Bieber’s Despacito is a classic example of this!), or you could just use completely made up words. In French, there’s also a special link between “chanter en yaourt” and fake-singing in English. Not entirely sure what would make the English language yoghurt-like though.

The idea of “chanter en yaourt” is a little bit different to something like scat, because even though the sounds there are improvised, they’re also intentional to create a musical effect. “Yaourt”, on the other hand, is just us trying to join in with a song.

Even songwriters use it sometimes when they’re trying to work out lyrics and melodies during the writing process. The “yaourt” eventually gets switched in with actual lyrics.


Click HERE for more of our favourite “untranslatable” expressions!