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I think it's a simple question. But I couldn't find a answer so far. I am trying to understand these sentences from the famous song Ne Me Quitte Pas:

l faut oublier
Tout peut s'oublier
Qui s'enfuit déjà
Oublier le temps
Des malentendus
Et le temps perdu
A savoir comment
Oublier ces heures
Qui tuaient parfois
A coups de pourquoi
Le coeur du bonheur

What does the letter A at the begining of these lines mean? 

Thanks in advance ^^


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A cracker of a song!

I wouldn't be surprised if it could mean  different things in different contexts.Here I might translate it as "How to know or be able to?" or "it is a question of..".

Maybe "How on earth...?"

A coups de pourquoi is different  and the "a " can just be translated as "with"  ,"by" or similar.

You can try to find online translations  but for a song  they can be very loose.

Of course "a savoir" doesn't have an exact or even really close parallel in English(you have to find an alternative expression).

When you have such a "small" word/phrase  it seems to kind of "melt into"  the surrounding words.

Thank you very much for your reply. 

I think I understood now what it means, but I still don't know what the letter A is. Is it the preposition "À"? Or in french the letter A by itself means something? I know the verb Avoir can be conjugate Il/Elle a, but I don't think that's the case.

Yes it is a preposition here.It normally is spelt  "à"  rather than "a"  but because it is capitalized in both cases  the accent is not normally written.

In the first case "à"  is followed by "savoir" ( a verb , the infinitive actually)  and in the second case by "coups de pourquoi" ( a noun  or a phrase standing in for  a "thing" )

You are right that  the "a" in "il/elle a " is completely different and there is no accent either.

To forget the time / Of the misunderstandings / And the time lost / (à) Knowing how 

To forget those hours / Which sometimes killed / By "whys" blows  / The heart of the happiness

Perdre du temps à attendre = To lose time _ waiting 

Tuer à coups de hache = To kill by hammer blows ( > to kill by "whys blows")


@ Grégory

Perdre du temps à attendre = To lose time _ waiting 

Oh yes I didn't see that  "Et le temps perdu à savoir comment"  went together .


Thank you for the replies. 

Well, I took a look at google translate, and these are the possible translations for savoir:

know; see (in a sense of understanding, "e.g. I see your point"); realize; be aware; figure out; sort out.

So, I think that we could translate:

Et le temps perdu à savoir comment


The time wasted in "figuring out" how.

It makes more sense to me that he's talking about the time it took them to learn or discover how to forget about the hours that killed the heart of happiness by using "blows of why".

I may be wrong, but I never think about the verb to know as a synonymous for discovering or figuring something out. But it could be the case in french. Savior also could mean: to get to know, or to learn or to figure out something.

Thanks again.

Don't forget these are lyrics for a song.They don't have to be  everyday language  -so long as they get across a meaning.

We are not the first to have asked the question.

Yes, here 'savoir' means something between to wonder, to search and to understand. I think he chose 'savoir' to maintain the rhythm : five syllables for each verse.


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