Song Lyrics – Encanto – We don’t talk about Bruno

Jack looks at the interesting vocabulary from the song We don’t talk about Bruno by Lin-Manuel Miranda from the film Encanto.

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Hello and welcome to Learn English Vocabulary. My name is Jack and I’m making this podcast for you to learn or revise English vocabulary. You can find a transcript of this podcast on LearnEnglishVocabulary.co.uk. There’s a page for this podcast with the transcript, an activity and a task for you to do in the comments section.

Today I’m making a podcast about a song that is very popular in my house at the moment. I have two kids and they both really love this song. They have asked me to print out the lyrics so they can sing along and so I hear this song, either the original, or my kids’ cover version several times a day. The song I am going to discuss is from the film Encanto which is an animated film from Disney about a magical family from Colombia. The song is We don’t talk about Bruno. The members of the family have different magical powers. Bruno has the power of prophecy and the word prophecy comes up in the song so I‘d like to explain that first. A prophecy is information about the future. When people are talking about magical powers, the gift of prophecy is the ability to predict the future or see what is going to happen before it occurs. It’s similar to a religious prophecy, except we don’t use the word prophet in a magical context. Bruno is a wizard or sorcerer with the gift of prophecy, not a prophet.

There is a lot of interesting language in this song and I hope to explain all the more advanced phrases, but I think on balance, this podcast will be suitable for B1 learners, perhaps B2.

Let’s get started. The song starts with the character Pepa and her husband Felix telling Mirabel, their niece, not to talk about Bruno. Bruno is Pepa’s brother, but he has been rejected by the family because of his magic power.

Pepa sings:

We don’t talk about Bruno, no, no, no!
We don’t talk about Bruno… but

Yes. Although they say they don’t talk about Bruno, they then go on to talk a lot about him.

It was my wedding day
It was our wedding day

In the song, Pepa is leading this verse and Felix is backing her up which is why the ideas are sort of repeated.

Someone’s wedding day is the day they get married. It’s the day of the wedding ceremony in a church or temple or mosque or at home.

We were getting ready, and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky
No clouds allowed in the sky

This is a cliched way to say that there was a blue sky. It’s common to hear ‘there wasn’t a cloud in the sky’. Felix repeats the idea but says no clouds allowed in the sky. This isn’t a common way and it is actually not complete, grammatically. The verb allow means to permit or let. If you allow something to happen, it’s like you say it’s OK. You let it happen. Felix is saying that clouds were not allowed in the sky, this is a passive form, but he’s using a reduced form and just sang: no clouds allowed. You sometimes see this form on signs saying no dogs allowed.

Bruno walks in with a mischievous grin-
Thunder! !

A mischievous grin. I really like this line. Bruno walks in with a mischievous grin. Mischievous is the adjective form of the noun mischief. Mischief means trouble or bad behavior, but it usually implies that the cause of the trouble was something funny. If you do something naughty because you think it’s funny, it could be described as mischief. If you are mischievous then you like doing naughty things that you find funny.

The word grin means a wide smile. It’s a smile that you can’t help, not a smile for the camera, but a smile that expresses happiness or because you think something is funny.

Often, native speakers mispronounce the word mischievous and say mis chee vee yous, but that’s not how it should be pronounced. I am a bit uncomfortable telling you that the way native speakers often say the word is wrong, but according to the Cambridge dictionary, it should be mis chi vous and that pronunciation fits the rhythm of the song much better.

Pepa sings Bruno walks in with a mischievous grin- and Felix adds: Thunder! !

Thunder is the sound of a storm made by lightning. It’s the deep booming sounds you hear when electrical storms discharge their bolts of lightning.

Pepa is not happy with Felix’s interruptions and asks:

You telling this story, or am I?

Felix replies:

I’m sorry, mi vida, go on

Mi vida is Spanish for my life, I think.

Bruno says, “It looks like rain”

This is a nice phrasal verb. It can mean resembles, that is looks the same as. You can say he looks like his father. Or that cloud looks like a dragon. But it can also be used to say that you think something is going to happen in the future because there are signs. It looks like rain, there are clouds and the wind is starting to blow. This kind of a joke because in the story there are no signs of rain. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and yet Bruno said it looked like rain.

Bruno says, “It looks like rain”
Why did he tell us?
In doing so, he floods my brain

A flood is normally caused by too much water. If it rains a lot and the drains get blocked then you get a flood. However you can also use the word as a verb and use it figuratively to say that there is so much of something that you can’t cope or it stops you from working properly.

Felix adds:

Abuela, get the umbrellas

Abuela means grandmother in spanish. Umbrellas are the things you hold over your head when it’s raining. There is a bit of a stereotype of English people carrying umbrellas, but to be honest, a lot of the time we have wind and rain and the rain still gets you even with an umbrella. They are much more important in tropical countries where the rain is heavy and comes straight down.

Married in a hurricane
What a joyous day … but anyway

Married means connected by marriage because you have completed a ceremony to make you husband and wife or husband and husband or wife and wife.

A hurricane is a really big storm with very powerful wind. Hurricanes happen in the Atlantic ocean and around the Americas. In Asia and the Pacific, they are called typhoons.

What a joyous day. Joyous just means happy, but it’s a bit old fashioned, perhaps a bit formal. I think you might see the word on greeting cards for weddings or to celebrate the birth of a child.

We don’t talk about Bruno, no, no, no!
We don’t talk about Bruno!

Now the song moves on and the character talking about Bruno is Dolores and the style of singing becomes almost rap. The language is much faster.

Hey! Grew to live in fear of Bruno stuttering or stumbling

If you grow to do something, that means you become used to or adapt to something over time. To live in fear means to be afraid of something all the time. Dolores says they grew to live in fear of Bruno stuttering or stumbling. To stutter means to say something with a speech problem. If a person stutters, then they have problems saying words and often repeat the first sound. So someone with a stutter might say p p p please. It’s quite a common speech problem or speech impediment. Everyone stutters now and again. I edit my stutters out of these podcasts. To stumble normally means to fall a little bit, usually if you stumble, you trip but don’t actually fall down. You get your feet stuck on something, but you manage to free them and keep walking. You can talk about stumbling over words in speech if you get a bit tongue tied or if you’re trying to say a tongue twister.

Hey! Grew to live in fear of Bruno stuttering or stumbling
I could always hear him sort of muttering and mumbling

To mutter means to say something really quietly, usually to yourself. We often do this when we are unhappy about something. When I’m trying to do do something tricky with tools, like trying to fix my bike, I’ll be muttering the whole time, especially if I hurt my fingers.

Silly blooming stupid bike thing.

Mumbling is similar, but it means speaking unclearly, usually because you are not confident. If I have to tell my boys off because they have been naughty or up to mischief and then are feeling bad about what they have done, or bad about being caught, when I make them apologise, they will usually mumble their apologies.

Say sorry boys!
Mmnmn – so rry.

Dolores sings:

I associate him with the sound of falling sand, ch-ch-ch

If you associate something with something else, it means you connect it usually in your thoughts. I associate Italy with Pizza and Pasta. I associate France with bread and red wine. The people you are connected to at work can be called your associates. And sometimes organisations that connect people with similar ideas are called associations. Dolores associates Bruno with the sound of falling sand. I’m not really sure what this means. It could be that in Colombia people think the sound of falling sand is the same as the sound you make to say be quiet – sh. Or falling sand could be the sound of an hourglass, an old fashioned timer so the sound would mean time passing or perhaps Bruno throws sand around a lot. I will have to watch the rest of the film.

It’s a heavy lift, with a gift so humbling

A heavy lift is not a common expression. Here it means the same as burden which is something that a person has to bear or put up with. Literally, your burden is something you have to carry, but it’s used more in a figurative sense to say you have a problem that you have to live with. Bruno’s gift of prophecy is humbling. This is quite difficult to explain. The adjective humble is the opposite of proud. If you feel humble, you feel like you are not important. When you are around Bruno, you feel like you are not powerful or important.

This gift:

Always left Abuela and the family fumbling

To fumble means to do something awkwardly or with difficulty. It’s usually something you are trying to do with your hands. We use the word a lot to describe trying to find something in the dark with your hands – fumbling around in the dark is quite a common expression.

Grappling with prophecies they couldn’t understand
Do you understand?

Grappling means kind of fighting or struggling, usually with your hands. If you are trying to carry too many things at the same time, you might find it hard to grapple with so many things at once. The family was fumbling and grappling with prophecies, this are pieces of information about the future, often described in poetic terms and the family could not understand them.

The song shifts again to a kind of rocky section sung by Camilo.

A seven-foot frame
Rats along his back

A seven foot frame describes him as very tall and thin. His frame is sort of his skeleton. If you say someone has a large frame, you mean they are very big boned. Perhaps they are big and muscular as well or perhaps it’s just their frame.

When he calls your name
It all fades to black

To fade means to change slowly from clear and vivid or colourful to white or black so that you can’t see it anymore. During films, things can fade to black or fade to white.

Camilo continues:

Yeah, he sees your dreams
And feasts on your screams (hey! )

Feast is normally a noun and it means a big meal with lots of different food. You might hear about a wedding feast. I don’t think that people normally refer to meals they prepare as feasts, it would be a bit boastful, but you might describe a meal that you are invited to as a feast. When we use feast as a verb, it means to eat as if at a feast. So, to eat a lot and with enthusiasm, with a big appetite or great hunger for what you are eating.

Next we have another chorus and then a little medley of Bruno’s predictions.

He told me my fish would die
The next day: dead! (No, no! )
He told me I’d grow a gut!
And just like he said… (no, no! )

A gut is a big round belly. In the film you see a slim young man suddenly pop out a big fat belly.

He said that all my hair would disappear, now look at my head (no, no! Hey! )

Your fate is sealed when your prophecy is read!

Your fate is what is going to happen to you, usually described as events and situations that you have no control over. This idea comes up in old stories and legends about heroes whose lives are controlled by gods and supernatural powers. If your fate is sealed, it means your future is decided and nothing can change it.

Now the singer changes again to Isabela who sings:

He told me that the life of my dreams would be promised, and someday be mine

When we say that something is of your dreams, so life of my dreams or girl of my dreams or even job of my dreams, we mean it’s the thing, the life or girl or job that you dream about, that you want above all others.

He told me that my power would grow, like the grapes that thrive on the vine

To thrive means to live and grow really well. We normally talk about plants thriving, meaning they are growing fast and healthily. People can also be said to thrive when they are in a situation that really suits them. I knew someone who had a hard time at school, but who really thrived when she went to university.

Abuela sings:

Ye, Mariano’s on his way

And then we go back to Dolores who sings:

He told me that the man of my dreams would be just out of reach
Betrothed to another
It’s like I hear him now

The man of Dolores dreams, her perfect man, would be just out of reach. Literally, this means something is too far for you to take. So I dropped my phone behind my sofa. When I tried to reach behind the sofa to get it, it was a centimetre further than I could reach. It was just out of reach. We often use this phrase in a figurative way. For Dolores, the man of her dreams is just out of reach because he is betrothed to another. Betrothed is an old fashioned word in English. It means that someone has promised to marry someone. The person is betrothed to the person they have promised to marry. In the past, people may have had arranged marriages and they would have been betrothed by their family.

Isabella interrupts and sings:

Hey sis, I want not a sound out of you

This is a way of telling someone to stop talking. It’s similar to something an angry teacher or parents might say when they are telling children off. I don’t want to hear a sound out of you. That means I don’t want to hear you say anything. It’s quite an aggressive thing to say to someone.

The last part of the song before everyone sort of repeats their lines at once is sung by the heroine of the film, Mirabel who demands the truth about Bruno. She sings

Yeah, about that Bruno…
I really need to know about Bruno…
Gimmie the truth and the whole truth, Bruno

The truth and the whole truth is interesting. It’s what people have to say when they swear in a court of law. In the UK, people have to swear to tell the truth and the whole truth. This is the same in the USA, but they have to say I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help me god. But in the UK, people don’[t have to say the bit about god, but they often do because they have watched too many American films.

So Mirabel is demanding the whole truth, the full story, even though everyone has already told her loads despite protesting that they don’t talk about Bruno.

OK – so that’s We don’t talk about Bruno by Lin-Manuel Miranda from the film Encanto . I hope that you can go and watch the video to the song again and understand it and enjoy it all the more. I will add the transcript of this podcast and a couple of learning activities on the page for this podcast on LearnEnglishVocabulay.co.uk.

I hope you have enjoyed this podcast. I do love reading your comments so please leave me a comment on the site or a rating or a review on Apple podcasts. I love to hear from you and any comments or suggestions you have.

If there are any topics or songs or scenes from a film that you would like me to talk about or anything else you would like to hear, I would be delighted to make a podcast for you. So please visit LearnEnglishVocabulary.co.uk and say hello.
Thanks for listening.

Vocabulary Activity

Watch the video and listen out for the vocabulary.

Discussion questions

Getting on with the people in your family can be difficult. Have you ever heard the expression ‘the black sheep of the family’? This means a family member that the rest of the family is ashamed of.

Is there a black sheep in your family?

Are you the black sheep? (ha ha)

Do you think it’s OK to not talk about or to someone in your family?

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4 Comments

  • Negin
    Posted 09/02/2022 at 6:15 pm 1Likes

    Hi Jack
    I appreciate for your preciouse time to help us improve our English
    That is a great and new idea that you explain every distich of a song and I can’t deny the fact that listening to the songs and making memories makes us not forget the vocabs ever
    Here is a song I recently heard
    “Come to your senses by Alexandra shipp” I hope it helps.
    Infinite peace and love for you from thousands of miles away

    • Jack
      Posted 09/02/2022 at 11:11 pm 0Likes

      Hi Negin
      Thank you for your kind words. I have not heard of this song but will take a look and try to make a podcast about it if I can.
      Thanks
      Jack

    • Antonio Sapena Morote
      Posted 08/03/2022 at 3:27 pm 0Likes

      Hello Jack,
      I would like you to dedicate a podcast to talk about Tesla (the car brand) or about Starship (the SpaceX spacecraft that will take us to Mars).
      Thanks for continuing to do podcasts and greetings from Spain!
      Antonio.

  • Mikolas Jossef
    Posted 08/03/2022 at 10:36 am 0Likes

    Hello Jack,
    I’ve been a fan of your podcasts for quite a time. I appreciate your effort on helping us improve our lexical resources. Your explanation is very easy to understand. I’ve already heard this song and loved it so much but I was a bit too busy and didn’t have a chance to focus on the meaning of every lyric. But now you made this podcast, and I listened to it while I was working! I learnt a lot of new vocabulary especially in Dolores’s part.
    So here is a song that I heard a few days ago that I fell in love with but the lyrics are kind of difficult for a beginner learner like me. It’s ” Cardigan ” by Taylor Swift. This is my first time requesting and it would mean so much if you did this song. I love you so much and I hope you continue to do a lot more podcasts that would help me reach my C1 goal 😉

    Love and peace,
    Mikolas

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