le cahier (keye yay)
: notebook, exercise book
(from the Latin "quaterni" or "set of four": the first cahiers had four pages... from the pliage, or folding, of one page)
le cahier d'exercices = workbook
le cahier à spirale = spiral-bound notebook
le cahier de textes = homework notebook
Audio File: The sound files will return soon... now that Chief Grape is back (I'll get him, shortly, at the airport in Marseilles).
A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse
The Art of Bookkeeping
I am at the bank trying to deposit a royalty check (made out in US dollars). I watch as the mademoiselle behind the counter is overcome by a look of doubt.
"Et qu'est-ce que c'est comme société?" she interrogates, pointing to the name at the top of the check.
Mademoiselle's question sounds like an accusation in the ears of the homebody who is hearing it. Standing there in muddied boots and an unironed chemise I wonder whether my appearance has anything to do with things? No, I reason. You are once again reading too much into it (besides, it's impossible to see my boots from where she is sitting).
Meantime, Mademoiselle is waiting for an answer...
"C'est une maison d'edition," I point out.
I am instantly ashamed of the smug feeling I have just enjoyed in announcing that the check has been issued by a publishing house! But any puffed-uppery is short-lived when, like soiled clothes tossed into a laundry chute--I am abruptly released from Pride thanks to Truth. (Truth is, the young teller makes more money in one month than I have made in six months of book sales... and the exchange rate sure doesn't help things!)
I watch as Mademoiselle Money-Maker reaches for a thin spiral notebook; inside, I see handwriting scrawled across les pages quadrillées. Next the bank teller practices what I have come to know as "French Data Entry". Forget, for a moment, France's history of being on the cutting edge of data processing (remember Le Minitel?), the French still revert to ink when it comes to documentation.
I stare at that flimsy cahier. Will she note the check information in there? Will my money be safe?....
Since moving to France, I have seen and been intrigued by the modern-day uses of scholastic notebooks by the likes of dentists, secretaries at town hall, the local garagiste, and, now, the banker. Record-keeping at its French best! In the flip of a curlicue-covered page (French longhand is unmistakable), my dentist can tell me my children's oral history. (Note: the same dentist also has the latest Mac with which to view those cool tooth diagrams on the big screen... I guess cahiers are more for documenting than for drawing).
Such old-fashioned ways and means for information recording are a breath of fresh air in this technologically chetchy society. But I have to admit that it comes as a relief when I notice the bank teller doing a backup (...and typing the check information into a computer database).
All that scribbling in the cahier seems like a lot of extra work... but then again... if Mademoiselle's computer ever gets fried as mine once did... then I am grateful knowing it's all been documented--my not-so-smug salary--via dotted I's and crossed T's.
Le Coin Commentaires
Have you, too, noticed the French tendency to use cahiers to record data? Is it just me? Or do the French have a tendency to note... and to note encore!? Share your experiences... and ask/answer questions in our community corner (aka the comments box!)
la mademoiselle = young lady
Et qu'est-ce que c'est comme société? = what kind of company is it?
une chemise = shirt
C'est une maison d'edition = it's a publishing house
le Minitel = in the early 80s, pre World Wide Web, the Minitel (picture a small computer terminal) was an online-information resource (users could look up telephone numbers, reserve train tickets, do online banking... way back when!)
les pages (f) quadrillées = the cross-ruled, checked pages
le cahier = notebook
le/la garagiste = mechanic
"Fanfare on the Front Porch" Thanks again and again to the Dirt Divas for coloring up our world. These flower arrangements were created by Doreen. She gave them to me at Malou's house, after tea and a "books-n-gardening" meeting. We loaded the freshly planted pots into the trunk and I drove wildly, excitedly home. So much so that when I opened the trunk there was dirt everywhere. I tucked the clumps of plants back into their upended pots... and followed Doreen's instructions: put the two outside (in any weather), and the others indoors until the threat of frost passes.
I could not imagine, then, that from the clumps of dirt and scattered greens... up would come this jubilant scene! P.S.: Doreen had apologized for the plastic containers, suggesting I set them into something a little more eye-catching. I hope these boots will do the trick! Many thanks encore, Doreen and Malou. I hope to see you here again very soon! To comment on the flowers or to share your own gardening notes, join us in the comment box, click here.
You will find more stories and photos of the Dirt Divas in the "Garden" section.
Exercises in French Phonics is...
" a great book for learning French pronunciation"
"useful and practical"
"high quality material, good value for your money" --from Amazon customer reviews. Order your copy here.
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