Can you translate this French handwriting?
March 2, 2010 3:06 PM   Subscribe

I received a note in French but don't know what it means. Can you translate this?

A kind lady found my dog's collar (the pooch is fine). I sent her a reward and she promptly mailed it back with this note.

The handwriting is throwing off my attempts to use Google Translation, so I'm asking the smart folk here.
posted by kongg to Writing & Language (18 answers total)
It's for the little dog. Thank you.
posted by tangerine at 3:08 PM on March 2, 2010

pretty sure it's "It's for the little dog. Thanks."
posted by moonmilk at 3:08 PM on March 2, 2010

It's for the little (dog?).

posted by tigrefacile at 3:09 PM on March 2, 2010

It's for the little dog. Thank you.
posted by spec80 at 3:09 PM on March 2, 2010

As for the handwriting, it's "C'est pour le petit chien. Merci."
posted by spec80 at 3:11 PM on March 2, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks everyone.

I guess her handwriting is funky where "pour" looks like "pocu", and "chien" looks like "chicee"?

No wonder Google was giving me bupkis.
posted by kongg at 3:12 PM on March 2, 2010

There I was wrestling with the last word which I was convinced was 'chicle' and if I'd simply read the question more carefully... This is why I have a low paid job with no real responsibility.
posted by tigrefacile at 3:13 PM on March 2, 2010

Well, the last word is misspelled (should be merci, not merçi), so don't feel too bad.
posted by languagehat at 3:23 PM on March 2, 2010 [2 favorites]

That's amazing to me. French is a phonetic language (in the sense that letter combinations fairly strictly relate to specific sounds - "ghoti" is a joke that doesn't translate into French in any form). The rule for using the circumflex under the letter c is first-grade simple (it produces a soft c, but isn't needed before i nor e). And "merci" is also a first-grade word.

Not to rip on the writer, but - wow. I've long theorized that spelling bees would be pointless in French. Perhaps not.
posted by IAmBroom at 6:03 PM on March 2, 2010

It's a cedille under the c and not needed. And cedille needs an accent on the e, but I can't remember how to do it, keyboard-wise.
posted by mareli at 6:34 PM on March 2, 2010

It's also got to be one of the top 10 most spoken/written/read words. How many times have you read the word "thanks" or "thank you?" It would be strange to misspell them.

Maybe s/he's a non-native speaker?
posted by jckll at 6:35 PM on March 2, 2010

mareli, thanks. I almost said "cedille", but talked myself out of it.
posted by IAmBroom at 6:51 PM on March 2, 2010

"People called Romans they go the house"?
posted by IAmBroom at 6:53 PM on March 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

Not to rip on the writer, but - wow. I've long theorized that spelling bees would be pointless in French. Perhaps not.

No, French isn't particularly phonetic (by which I assume you mean that pronunciation can easily be deduced from orthography, or vice versa) in the way that, say, Italian is. Whole syllables are written but not spoken, for example, and many sounds are written differently and sound the same. The French in general seem to have just as many problems with spelling as English-speakers do.

That said, I agree with you that it's weird that she misspelled that particular word.
posted by altolinguistic at 4:47 AM on March 3, 2010

In all my years here, and as a translator to top it off (so reading plenty of French), I have never seen merci spelled with a cedille. How weird. Yet another for my collection of "Weird French Misspellings".

IAmABroom, there are nationally televised spelling bees here. For adults. French is not that phonetic, especially not if you've been to anywhere outside of Paris and witnessed how, for instance, "pneu" can be pronounced "peu-neu".

The phonetically-based mistakes that bug me most are generally the confusion of past tense with the infinitive, UGH. Most common French-native French mistake evaaar. "Je suis aller voir le match, c'était top !" Arrrrrgh, "je suis allé voir le match"!
posted by fraula at 6:20 AM on March 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Again, thank you everyone.

For what it's worth, I'm pretty she is a native French speaker. When I spoke to her on the phone there was a bit of a language barrier. Since we're in Texas, I lazily assumed she spoke Spanish. However, her French name (and this note) reveals otherwise.

I guess she is more comfortable writing in French, even to an English speaker. Maybe she assumed the French words were so simple that anyone could understand it. Luckily I have Metafilter on my side.

The misspelling of "merci"? I have no idea why. Any possibility it's a regional variation?
posted by kongg at 8:28 AM on March 3, 2010

Response by poster: I tried to answer my own question about a regional variation of "merci", and came across this anecdote of the same spelling:

I once was invited to the home of a teacher in France. In the bathroom,
she wanted guests to wipe the sink after use; she had a written sign
that said that and then "merci" written with an accent cedille!

Perhaps it is the same woman.
posted by kongg at 8:41 AM on March 3, 2010

fraula, thanks; I never would have guessed that - but formal French-as-a-foreign-language education never covers dialectical diffferences, of course.

The ability to spell phonemes in different manners isn't really the kicker; rules govern those, and knowing a bit of etymology goes a long ways in French. But the dialectical variances could obfuscate all of that; I see now.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:03 PM on March 3, 2010

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