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to tell one's beads

Discussion in 'French-English Vocabulary / Vocabulaire Français-Anglais' started by lilyjak, Sep 13, 2009.

  1. lilyjak

    lilyjak Junior Member

    français
    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... ???
     
  2. mgarizona

    mgarizona Senior Member

    Phoenix, AZ
    US - American English
    égrener son chapelet I believe.
     
  3. lilyjak

    lilyjak Junior Member

    français
    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...
     
  4. mgarizona

    mgarizona Senior Member

    Phoenix, AZ
    US - American English
    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. SteveD

    SteveD Senior Member

    Braine-l'Alleud, Belgium
    British English
    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. Dr. Baha'i Senior Member

    Athens, GA
    English - U.S.
    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. mgarizona

    mgarizona Senior Member

    Phoenix, AZ
    US - American English
    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. lilyjak

    lilyjak Junior Member

    français
    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!
     
  9. lilyjak

    lilyjak Junior Member

    français
    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.
     
  10. SteveD

    SteveD Senior Member

    Braine-l'Alleud, Belgium
    British English
    Just a little friendly correction:)
     
  11. SteveD

    SteveD Senior Member

    Braine-l'Alleud, Belgium
    British English

    And another!!:):)
     
  12. lilyjak

    lilyjak Junior Member

    français
    Thank you, it's always helpful!
     

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