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Thread: to tell one's beads

  1. #1
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    to tell one's beads

    Bonjour à tous !

    Je n'arrive pas à traduire cette expression dans la phrase suivante : "Farther down, before one of the cottages, a lady in black was walking demurely up and down, telling her beads."

    Je n'ai pas l'impression que les définitions données sur le site conviennent donc si quelqu'un a une idée... ???
    Are You There God? It's Me, Ann-Margret

  2. #2
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    Re: to tell one's beads

    égrener son chapelet I believe.

  3. #3
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    Re: to tell one's beads

    Thank you for answering me.

    Could you explain what the expression means in English please? Because I don't understand if it has to do with the woman talking to herself? Complaining about something? or something else...
    Are You There God? It's Me, Ann-Margret

  4. #4
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    Re: to tell one's beads

    The 'beads' are those of her rosary, "telling one's beads" = "reciting one's rosary." She's saying the various little prayers which each bead represents in a gentle murmur under her breath, I would imagine.

  5. #5
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    Re: to tell one's beads

    In this context, "to tell" means to count. In other words, she is holding the loop of beads around the fingers of one hand and "counting" them with her thumb.

    "A teller" can be used to mean a person who works behind the counter in a bank.

  6. #6
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    Re: to tell one's beads

    Yes, exactly as Steve says. There is a close connection between the words and ideas of to tell and to count. In addition to the example of a bank teller, to "recount" a story means the same as to "tell" it. I'm guessing that there also may be a connection with a church bell tolling the hour, but that's just conjecture.

  7. #7
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    Re: to tell one's beads

    Literally "tell" does mean 'to count off, one-by-one," and is related to 'teller' and, for that matter, the word 'tally.'

    BUT please don't think that the phrase "telling her beads" means that she is counting them ... one, two, three, etc ... that would be entirely incorrect. It's a rather humoristic phrase, underscoring the roteness of rosary-saying.

    The French phrase with égrener is likewise humorous.

  8. #8
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    Re: to tell one's beads

    No church bell but several people are gone to hear the mass while the woman is walking so I assume she's saying some prayers to herself.
    There is only this one sentence about the woman so it's hard to understand what she's doing without much more context.

    Thank you very much for your help!
    Are You There God? It's Me, Ann-Margret

  9. #9
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    Re: to tell one's beads

    Quote Originally Posted by mgarizona View Post
    Literally "tell" does mean 'to count off, one-by-one," and is related to 'teller' and, for that matter, the word 'tally.'

    BUT please don't think that the phrase "telling her beads" means that she is counting them ... one, two, three, etc ... that would be entirely incorrect. It's a rather humoristic phrase, underscoring the roteness of rosary-saying.

    The French phrase with égrener is likewise humorous.
    I think I got it now. But, also I'd already heard "égréner son chapelet" before you wrote it, I don't usually use the verb "égréner" and I'm not really sure what a "chapelet" is exactly. So, even once you had translated it it was hard for me to understand because even in French it didn't really make sens. I blame my lack of vocabulary in my own language!
    Thanks for the precision.
    Are You There God? It's Me, Ann-Margret

  10. #10
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    Re: to tell one's beads

    Quote Originally Posted by lilyjak View Post
    No church bell but several people have gone to hear mass while the woman is walking so I assume she's saying some prayers to herself.
    There is only this one sentence about the woman so it's hard to understand what she's doing without much more context.

    Thank you very much for your help!
    Just a little friendly correction

  11. #11
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    Re: to tell one's beads

    Quote Originally Posted by lilyjak View Post
    I think I got it now. But, also I'd already heard "égréner son chapelet" before you wrote it, I don't usually use the verb "égréner" and I'm not really sure what a "chapelet" is exactly. So, even once you had translated it it was hard for me to understand because even in French it didn't really make sense. I blame my lack of vocabulary in my own language!
    Thanks for the precision.

    And another!!

  12. #12
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    Re: to tell one's beads

    Thank you, it's always helpful!
    Are You There God? It's Me, Ann-Margret

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