Will handwriting soon be obsolete? Currently, French employers still appreciate a penned cover letter. (Picture of the handmade pen my sister gave me for my birthday.)
TODAY'S WORD: le stylo
un stylo bille = ballpoint pen
un stylo plume = fountain pen
un stylo feutre = a felt-tip pen
Try Mastering French Vocabulary with Audio MP3
Votre lettre doit être irréprochable : écrivez sur une feuille blanche A4, au stylo bille noir ou bleu foncé (pas de bleu turquoise, fluo ou paillettes!). (Texte issu de l'article 10 erreurs à ne pas commettre dans votre lettre de motivation)
Your letter must be irreproachable: write on a white page A4, with a black or blue ballpoint pen (not turquoise, neon-colored, or with sparkles!). (Text from the article 10 mistakes not to make in your cover letter)
ECOUTEZ - Hear Jean-Marc pronounce the example sentence in French: Listen to today's example sentence
There are status symbols and then there are story symbols. The first tells the world you are rich, the second tells the sentimental story of who you are and where you have been.
When I returned from France in 1990 as a junior in college I wore a pair of Eiffel tower earrings, I wrote with a fountain pen, and I owned a pencil case. Every student in France had one such trousse - swimming with crayons, stylo billes, highlighters and an exotic form of Wite-Out. When I pulled out my pencil case in an American classroom, I felt a tiny bit French. (Sitting behind the wheel of a Ferrari must feel as exhilarating.)
Maybe it's pushing things to compare pencil cases and Ferraris, but the excitement is there. That small leather trousse symbolized a still-exotic-to-me art de vivre--a way of living I yearned for deep down.
Not long after my return from France a young Frenchman I had met in Aix-en-Provence searched his own pencil case for a suitable pen in which to write me a letter, the first of many. And that is how my husband stole my heart. We eventually married and had two beautiful children--one of which, now in design school, stole my pencil case :-)
la trousse = pencil case
le crayon = pencil
le stylo bille = ballpoint pen
l'art de vivre = lifestyle
A few comments from the post about French Cover Letters, bring up some interesting topics about handwriting in France:
Chez nous, employers would expect that the cover letter would be computer generated and printed even were a teenager applying for such a job as candy seller or life guard. Is it not the same in France? - Robert
I also am amazed that the handwritten letter is required. I'm sure that in the USA, someone would be quick to "find" it to be a subtle form of discrimination, against those who do not write as legibly as others... Joan
These points and the following questions make for good conversation. Should handwriting stay or go? Should it still be taught in schools? Required for a cover letter? Does handwriting still matter?
Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi