Looking for the Lyrics to the French Song, “Dites-moi pourquoi”

Jana wrote to me looking for a song. Here’s what she wrote…

Okay, I don’t actually speak French, so I don’t know if the title is quite correct. Thirty five years ago when I was in kindergarten, the other kindergarten class learned a little song. Enough of it has remained in my brain that I wish I knew the rest. I believe it is not actually from France, but from a French-speaking island somewhere. I think I heard a teacher in Junior High School say that she had heard the song in the Polynesian Islands.

The song begins, “Dites-moi pouquoi ma vie est… (plus some three syllable simile for beautiful/ wonderful/ nice/pleasant) and ends something like… “est-ce que c’est parce que tu m’aimes”.

The English “translation” I recall to be…

Tell me why, oh why, my life is beautiful.
Tell me why, oh why, my life is gay.
Tell me why, oh why, my life is wonderful.
Could it be, possibly, you love me?

Have you ever heard of this song? If so, where is it from, and what is the correct French, please? Thanks for your website. As a nostalgic adult with a six year old son, I plan to visit frequently.

Jana Morse

With some more emails back and forth and with the help of Monique of Mama Lisa’s World en français we were able to figure out that some of the lines might be…

Dites-moi pourquoi ma vie est belle.
Dites-moi pourquoi ma vie est merveilleuse.
Est-ce que c’est parce que tu m’aimes or
Est-ce que c’est possible que tu m’aimes.

If anyone can help with this song, please comment below.

Thanks! Lisa

This article was posted on Tuesday, March 7th, 2006 at 8:54 pm and is filed under French, Languages, Questions. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

30 Responses to “Looking for the Lyrics to the French Song, “Dites-moi pourquoi””

  1. Janis Says:

    Isn’t this one of the songs sung in the musical South Pacific?

  2. Lisa Says:

    If that’s the song, you can find the lyrics at http://www.stlyrics.com/lyrics/southpacific/dites-moi.htm

  3. Jana Says:

    Yes, that would make sense. Mrs. Diedrichson taught the kindergarteners all kinds of songs from musicals that she performed with a group in Cinncinnati, much more interesting than “Three Blind Mice” and “Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush.” I was much, much older before I learned the origins of all those songs. I think the English translation we were taught is actually a bit closer to the actual translation of the French, interesting.
    Here are the proper lyrics:Artist: Lyrics
    Song: Dites-Moi Lyrics
    Ngana and Jerome:

    La vie est belle,
    La vie est gai,
    Chere Mad’moiselle,
    Est-ce que
    Parce que
    Vous m’aimez?

    Chere Mad’moiselle,
    Est-ce que
    Parce que
    Vous m’aimez?

    English Version

    Tell me why
    The sky is filled with music,
    Tell me why
    We fly on clouds above
    Can it be
    That we
    Can fly to music
    Just because,
    Just because
    We’re in love?

  4. Veronica Says:

    Just in case you were interested, the literal translation is:

    Tell me, why is life beautiful (Dites-moi, pourquoi, la vie est belle)
    Tell me, why is life gay (Dites-moi, pourquoi, la vie est gaie)
    Tell me, why, Dear Miss, (Dites-moi, pourquoi, Chere Mlle)
    Is it because you love me? (Est-ce que, parce que, vous m’aimez)

  5. Peihan Says:


    I caught the muscial in Paris. Hope it helps=)

  6. Jenny Says:


    How are you?

    I’m looking for a very old French song in MP3 format. Please help me to find it. I give it to my Grandma on her birthday…..

    the song name is c ‘est qu ‘un reviour

    Thank you very much for your help you can email me at the about email addess

  7. Lisa Says:

    Monique wrote…

    I found a recording on a scouts site…


    This song “Ce n’est qu’un au revoir” is the French version of Auld Lang Syne and it’s also titled “Le chant des adieux”.

    Thanks Monique!


  8. Jen Says:

    The song is from South Pacific… They did a play of it at my school and it is sooooo annoying! I like it though…

  9. pat Says:

    am watching ‘the longest day” movie and recognized the orchestrated background
    music to be the simple Rogers and Hammerstein tune from “South Pacific” which
    certainly was written after WWII, altho the movie came out in 1962.
    Is “dites-moi” a folk tune first?

  10. Monique Says:

    As far as I know, it was no folk tune first, it was composed by Richard Rodgers. I listened to it on this site http://www.geocities.com/televisioncity/studio/8849/Moviemusicals/Dites-Moi/BaliHai.htm#THE%20Songs and it somewhat recalled me the tune to The Longest Day too

  11. Joachim Says:

    As a child, I used to go to Canada every year with my family, to visit friends of my parents, and when we would go to sleep, Louise (the woman we stayed with) would sing this to us at bedtime…

    The loose Americanized translation is stated above about the sky being filled with music…etc…however, the literal translation, as was told to me by Louise, goes something like this…

    “Dites-moi” – “Tell Me”

    Dites-moi, Pourquoi Tell me, why is life so beautiful…?
    La vie est belle,
    Dies-moi, Pourquoi Tell me, why is life filled with joy?
    La vie est gai,

    Dites-moi, Pourquoi, Tell me, why, dearest miss…
    Chere Mademoiselle,
    Est-ce que Parce que Is it because you love me?
    Vous m’aimez?

    Dites-moi, Pourquoi, Tell me, why, dearest miss…
    Chere Mad’moiselle,
    Est-ce que Parce que Is it because you love me?
    Vous m’aimez?

    I so love this song :)

  12. Lisa Says:

    That’s lovely!

  13. Jamie Says:

    Oh my God! I’m so glad I found this – that song has popped into my head since I was a child, and I had no idea what it was from (and I didn’t see South Pacific until a relative short time ago) I love this song,
    the melody is so lovely as is the sounds of the French.


  14. Brandon Says:

    I work at a resort with a bunch of internationals and I would always here the ladies singing the song I love it so much!!!!!!!!! I recommend everyone go see souh pacific!!!!

  15. Kathy Says:

    Joachim is right on target! My mother who recently died was from Paris and as a child she taught the song to my sister and I. The literal translation takes all the magic out of the song and the French people would not find it flattering to the beauty of the song at all! The translation given to me by my mother is right on line with Joachim. Thanks, Mommy-legacies are meant to be carried on. Glad to help!

  16. Kathy Says:

    Oh, and one more thing: the song IS a very old folk song. It may have been redone (added to?) for South Pacific but it has been around since at least the 1800’s. If I remember correctly, the composer is unknown which is not unusual for very old folk songs.

  17. James Says:

    This song regardless of origin is in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s. “South Pacific”. In a scene, the children of a self-exiled Frenc widower are being taught French. The children are half Polynesian. Check PBS broadcast of Live from Lincoln Center—I just saw it last night.

  18. Mark Says:

    I checked with some Rodgers & Hammerstein experts, and they say it is not based on an old folk song. It was newly-composed for “South Pacific.” Kathy, do you have anything to back up your claim? There’s nothing on the web.

  19. Helene Says:

    Hi, is there anybody who can help me to find the song : dites moi pourquoi la vie est belle to down load the music?
    Thank you in advance, helene

  20. Louise Says:

    the actuall lyrics for the song are,
    Dites-moi, pour-quoi, lavie est belle, Dites-moi, pour-quoi-lavie-est-gai, dites-moi porquoi, madame-mozzela, esecue, parsecue, voui moui mez!
    Tell my why, the sky, is filled with music, tell me why, we fly on clouds above, can it be, that we, can fly to music, just because, just because were in love!

  21. Sue Hickman Says:

    I am 61 years old. When I was in grade school(very small school) we put on a musical for Mother’s Day and this was one of the songs we did. I still remember some of the verses and have always wanted to know the rest! Thak you for posting this! I always thought it had something to do with mothers!

  22. marvin Says:

    I had the pleasure of performing in South Pacific as Emile’s son when I was 8-9 years old and was taught to sing the song this being 45 years ago I couldnt remember all the words. Thanks

  23. Julia Says:

    The origin of the song us that Rogers and Hammerstein *wrote*it for the musical South Pacific. It’s been around since the 49’s. So that is why so many if us grew up hearing it

  24. Carl Blythe Says:

    Just to add a twist to this, I learned this song in the late 1950’s from a boys choir album my mother had gotten for me (I use to remember songs & lyrics fairly fast & I would sing every song along with the album), and I cannot remember the name of the album. I believe the boys were all from New York & some of the songs along with Dits Moi were Standin’ On The Corner, Don’t Fence Me In & the Whiffenpoof Song. Any clues?

  25. Kitty Says:

    I learned this song at summer camp thru a church group in Manhattan when I was about 10 or 11 years old in approving 1955ish. Words stuck in my head all these years and I never knew the translation. Thanks.

  26. Judy Says:

    I believe this song is in the movie, South Pacific. Rossano Brazzi sings it to his children. Hope this helps.

  27. Lynn Says:

    Hi everyone.
    My mother and grandparents sang this song to us as children. our heritage is other Parisian French and Micmac. Canadians from Nova Scotia.
    I am now in my late 60’s, sang this song to my sons, and remember it like yesterday.
    My grandmother spoke French, and her parents sang this song to her as a child, while residing in France in the mid 1800’s.

  28. Hector Coto Says:

    There is a song sung by an Argentinian singer that I would like to find in its original version. It was recorded by the Argentinian in 1959, and at that time he used to adapt Italian, American, and French songs in rock style. His name was Luis Aguile, died some years ago, and became very famous in Spain and Europe. The son in Spanish is named “Dime algo cariñoso” (tell me something tender) and is very romantic. If you know of it, and if you can connect it with its original version, I will be very grateful. I am 74 now, and that was my youth in Cuba, where the artist became extra-ordinarily famous until he decided to continue his career in Spain, but he never forgot Cuba.

  29. Jerry Says:

    When I took high school French in 1948, the book had a poem that started:

    “Dites moi pourquoi la vie est brève
    Dites moi pourquoi est vain” (I forget this word in French.)

    I was surprised to hear it a few years later as “la vie est belle”,
    I but I can understand why.

    I just found this without the dites mois:

    Trilby (1894):

    La vie est vaine,
    Un peu d’amour,
    Un peu de haine,
    Et puis—Bonjour!

    La vie est brève:
    Un peu d’espoir,
    Un peu de rêve
    Et puis—Bon soir!

  30. Amy Fitchett Says:

    Ohhhh myyyy goshhh! I have been trying to find this song and the lyrics for the past several years. Finally stumbled across this site which led me to the movie, and mystery solved! My grandmother once dated a gentleman who used to sing this to me every time he saw me. I was about seven or eight years old. Thank you so much for this information. Whew!

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