Tuesday, December 06, 2005

joueur de bande

I have been working at France Télécom for about two months now on a 40-hour contract (called a mission in French--I love saying "I have a mission at France Télécom"). The building is "secure," meaning that I have to ring a bell for the secretary to open the doors for me, and wait for someone to let me into the work area. My students were very surprised to find that I use actual audio cassette tapes for their listening activities, and not CDs, and so I have to ask the secretary for a tape player.

On my first day there, I realized that I didn't know the French word for "tape player." I knew the French for CD and DVD player, lecteur CD/DVD (CD or DVD "reader"), and VCR, magnetoscope, but not tape player. I decided to go with lecteur cassette audio, or "audio cassette reader." The secretary didn't seem to understand for a minute, but then said "oh!" and got me a tape player. This happened for the first 4 weeks, and I assumed that everything was going well and I had guessed the right word.

Last week, when I asked for the lecteur cassette audio, she seemed put out. "You'll have to ask Christian for that," she told me. "Oh, no, wait, he's not here today, is he? Well, I'll see what I can do." She called another secretary in the room, and asked her for a magnetophone. That's right, not a lecteur cassette audio, but a magnetophone. So for a whole month I had been asking for an audio cassette reader, and instead of correcting me the first time, she just let me go with it. Now I know better, and I asked her for a magnetophone today (because Christian is hardly ever there). She is very nice otherwise, and she probably was too embarrassed to correct me after the first time she heard it, so she came up with a novel way of demonstrating the right word. Thanks, France
Télécom secretary!

EDIT: Jube has informed me that we can use lecteur cassette as well as magnetophone. Good to know!

8 comments:

Samantha said...

Man, I'm such a dork, I've been saying "lecteur cassette" too. But it just makes sense - there's lecteur CD, lecteur Mp3, lecteur DVD, etc.

Just the other day a German assistant came and asked for the "magnetophone", and I said "huh?". She explained it, and I said "Oh, you mean the lecteur cassette", and then she thought she had the wrong word. Doh, now I feel really stupid!

And I know, it's really irritating when French people don't correct obvious mistakes like that...I have a friend that constantly says "Je suis plein" for I'm full, and since no one ever corrects her (cuz they get the point), she won't believe me that it's not right. At least I convinced her to stop saying "Je suis pleine" though...

Jube said...

In fact, there is no problem with both. Lecteur cassette is just as acceptable as magnetophone.

Now Samantha, you may find irritating the fact that people won't correct your mistakes. The thing is, a lot of people will find it just as irritating when other people do correct them.

Stacey said...

just wondering... doesn't "je suis plein" translate as i'm pregnant?

Samantha said...

I was just going to write back and say that "lecteur cassette" can be used, but you beat me too it! (I asked Fab when he got home too.)

You're right, I'd probably be just as irritated if people where constantly correcting me, but I hate finding out I've been making the same mistake forever and no one told me.

And yep, "je suis pleine" (with an "e" at the end) means "I'm pregnant". So once I told her that, she started saying "je suis plein" and now won't believe me that that doesn't work either.

Gem said...

I used to say lots of weird things that Jube had taught me--for example, I thought that "tu me fais craquer" meant "you crack me up" for a really long time. He used to ask me if I was "pleine," and still uses it with his family at group dinners--"Gem est pleine!" He wants me to add that it means a pregnant animal, though, not a pregnant person.

Helene said...

I hope that means when you come home for Christmas you won't say, "Gem est pleine!"

Gem said...

Don't worry, I'll say "je suis rassasiée"!

Samantha said...

You know, I've never actually heard a French person say "Je suis rassasié(e)" - have you? I've only ever heard foreigners say it, so I never do. I usually just say "Non, merci, c'était très bon, mais j'ai plus faim" ou "J'ai trop mangé".