Thursday, December 15, 2005

Nicknames

Today in my group class at France Télécom, I showed Bend it Like Beckham because they had begged me for examples of an Indian accent. None of the students had heard of the movie, and they really enjoyed it, although we were interrupted by an unscheduled video-conference call in the middle of the movie. (Alo? alo? Est-ce qu'ils parlent anglais? Mais on n'est pas chez France Télécom?)

Afterwards, we talked about the penchant we Anglo-Saxons seem to have for nicknames. If you don't remember, in Bend it Like Beckham everyone has a nickname. The main character is Jess (Jesminder), her friend is Jules (Juliet), her sister is Pinky (real name unknown) and her brother-in-law is Teets (Teetu). When I thought about it, everyone I know has a nickname, and many of them use their nicknames instead of their real names. I started remembering how on the first day of class, the teacher would call role, and we would tell her how we would like to be called. This doesn't happen very often in France; usually a French person will have a childhood nickname, but they drop it once they go to school. I asked all of the students what their childhood nickname was, and they were all pretty basic:

Cricri (Christine)
Cripoulette (Christelle)
Maya l'Abeille (Maya the Bee)
Lolette (Laure)

The best, though, was Sylvie. She explained that she had a wetnurse as a child, and this wetnurse was from Germany. "My wetnurse thought I looked just like a doll, so she called me poup
ée [doll] with a German accent, Poupie."

Unfortunately Poupie sounds exactly like Poopy. I did my best not to laugh, and I didn't explain what "poopy" means in English--but from now on, I'll always wonder what her German wetnurse really thought of Sylvie . . .

1 comment:

Doc said...

We called me dad Poopie--more for his amazing gaseous qualities than anything to do with (then unknown) french translations