Friday, July 25, 2008

Alphabet Soup

Just that morning, Sophie, our French teacher, hinted that learning the pronunciation of the French alphabet would have a lasting benefit. She had us practice spelling out our names phonetically: enn-an-enn-se-ee grec. pe-err-oh-se-te-euh-err. If you don't believe me, click on the photo to enlarge and practice your own name. Sophie said she would make a photocopy for our next class.

We needed un ecran de baignoire (bathtub door enclosure) before I can finish tiling. This is an item that will not be in stock, so I decide to try ordering it over the phone. I have all my information in front of me: "Bon jour, je voudrais commander un ecran de baignoire le Largo, la dimension grande, S.V.P.". Then I hear the fatal two words: non disponible. Not available. OK, when? NEVER! I now assume that model is discontinued. I try to ask if there is something like it, meme. The gentleman asks if I have l'ordinateur, a computer. Oui! Then the plot thickens.

He refers me to another ecran (screen). It sounds like he says "Odessa". I can't remember how to say "can you spell that", but he starts calling out foreign objects, some of which I recognize. I repeat "Odessa" and he repeats what sounds like "Odessa". I say I'll go to the computer website and call back. The website reveals the Odessa line of bathroom furniture (meubles), not bath enclosures. I must call back, but I'm too embarrassed.

I decide to call another branch of the same LaPeyre stores, the one in Carcassonne. I ask about the Odessa ecran to replace the Largo. Do you mean "oh-de-ee grec-ess-ess-euh-euh"? I couldn't grasp all that she said, but when I heard the "ee grec", or Y, I knew I was on to something else: the Odyssee. We now have an Odyssee on order, due to arrive cinq aout (August 5th). Thanks, Sophie, you were right.


Rachel said...

This is very exciting! I've been trying to teach my dad the french alphabet lately to start out his crash course in french before we come to see you next month. I was hoping that with his limited knowledge of spanish, learning the french alphabet might be beneficial for things he will hear and see while we are there. I've got my french practiquer cd's going to refresh my own memory, but some words are harder to replicate when I can only hear them and not see them. C'est un peu difficile! :) Can't wait to see you guys! A bientot.

Anonymous said...

I'm really impressed with your French, well done. I always thought that the telephone was the most difficult way to communicate, you can't see facial expressions or do a little lip reading to aid understanding. Asking for a spelling, while you write it down might really help. Leslie

Anonymous said...

Oh Nancee (trying to sound French)-
You have progressed greatly in French! To talk on the phone is tres impressive! I must commend you for trying, it takes guts, n'est pas?