French Language Blog

Portable disasters Posted by on May 25, 2010 in Culture, Vocabulary

J’ai perdu mon portableI lost my cell phone !

I know, quel désastre. J’essayais des jean chez Levi’s (I was trying on jeans at Levi’s) et quand je suis sortie, je voulais appeler mon ami… et je fouillais dans mon sac et je n’ai rien trouvé ! (and when I left, I wanted to call my friend… and I searched in my bag and I found nothing !) How do you say… heartbreak? (Crève-coeur, apparemment.)

Heureusement, replacing my phone will be much easier this time than when I lost mon portable in Paris. It was only a few weeks after arriving, and the language barrier was almost comical. You know those automated phone trees where you say what you want, and the robot recognizes it and says, “Are you looking to replace your phone?” and you say “Oui!” and everything’s great? Well, they don’t speak American accent. C’était difficile.

Of all the stress of Paris, replacing my phone was the only experience that made me pleurer comme un enfant (cry like a child). Je ne veux pas que ça vous arrive, so let’s learn some vocabulaire de portable.

D’abord, choisir un mobile (first, choose a phone). Cell phones and health care are the only things that are actually cheaper in France than in the US, so go wild. Cela dit (that said), you may first need to decide whether you want un forfait (an annual plan) or if you’re going to use une carte prépayée. A prepaid card lets you buy minutes as you need them, without committing to any period of time. Different opérateurs télécoms may give you other options, but those are standard choices.

If you choose un forfait, decide what you will do most with your portable. Cherchez un offre ou un “exclu” (find an offer or an “exclusive”) with a combination of SMS (text messages) and minutes d’appel (call minutes). If you are buying minutes, bonne chance. I think I spent more on minutes than le loyer (the rent) while I was trying to get a new forfait. Des cartes prépayées are disponibles in any kiosque de presse or épicerie (newsstand or grocery store).

This is all the boring stuff about having a phone. The fun part is what you do when you’ve dried your tears and left France Telecom ( Have you ever had your friends switch your phone into Korean, just to mess with you? Then you’re navigating blind to try to reset the language back to something decipherable? That’s good practice for un portable français. I swear I learned to write in French because I didn’t know how to turn off French T9. As long as my text predictor was en français, English was more of a hassle than it was worth.

Donc voilà, vous êtes prêts à acheter un portable… comme moi je ferai demain ! (So voilà, you’ re ready to buy a cell phone… as I will do tomorrow!) J’attends moins de drame cette fois-ci (I’m expecting less drama this time). But maybe the store clerk will still be un beau-gosse like the guy at Orange… je vous raconte (I’ll let you know).

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  1. Guillaum:

    Best of luck getting a new phone! Now you must decide if you will join the rest of the world and get a téléphone intelligent, or suffer with un téléphone qui est juste un téléphone.

  2. Nor:


    Quand J’ai été un Paris J’ai noté que vous ils dissent “GSM” ou portable… J’ai demandé mon ami francaise pour quoi ça et il m’ai dit que ils ont adopté “la premère technologie” des portables pour appeler ça:::GSM