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  1. #1
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    Diamondflame's Avatar
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    Unhappy Rant: 'Dumb down' just to be understood by SAs...

    Not trying to be a snob or whatever, but whenever I use the correct pronunciation of French-named perfumes, none of the SAs get what I'm referring to. A case in point is 'Guerlain'. I had to resort to a mis-pronunciated 'gurr-layne' or other similar variations before anyone gets it; it's rather frustrating. Know a better way of coping with this issue?
    “...too many among us die at thirty and are buried at eighty.” - Robin Sharma
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  2. #2
    Mr. G's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rant: 'Dumb down' just to be understood by SAs...

    Well, I think it's cute, not dumb or frustrating at all. I love the American accent on French.

    Quote Originally Posted by Diamondflame View Post
    Not trying to be a snob or whatever, but whenever I use the correct pronunciation of French-named perfumes, none of the SAs get what I'm referring to. A case in point is 'Guerlain'. I had to resort to a mis-pronunciated 'gurr-layne' or other similar variations before anyone gets it; it's rather frustrating. Know a better way of coping with this issue?
    Last edited by Mr. G; 6th December 2009 at 08:26 AM.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Rant: 'Dumb down' just to be understood by SAs...

    most SAs tend to use the american accent instead of the proper one...so just use the american one i guess =/

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Rant: 'Dumb down' just to be understood by SAs...

    Oh well, I guess making yourself understood is the essence of any communication... Maybe I expect SAs to be familiar with any nationality-influenced variations of a well known brand since these stores are marketing to an international group (tourists & expatriates).
    “...too many among us die at thirty and are buried at eighty.” - Robin Sharma
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  5. #5
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    Default Re: Rant: 'Dumb down' just to be understood by SAs...

    Quote Originally Posted by Diamondflame View Post
    Not trying to be a snob or whatever, but whenever I use the correct pronunciation of French-named perfumes, none of the SAs get what I'm referring to. A case in point is 'Guerlain'. I had to resort to a mis-pronunciated 'gurr-layne' or other similar variations before anyone gets it; it's rather frustrating. Know a better way of coping with this issue?
    OH YEAH... *Given Up*

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  6. #6

    Default Re: Rant: 'Dumb down' just to be understood by SAs...

    Quote Originally Posted by Diamondflame View Post
    Oh well, I guess making yourself understood is the essence of any communication... Maybe I expect SAs to be familiar with any nationality-influenced variations of a well known brand since these stores are marketing to an international group (tourists & expatriates).
    depends how well trained the SA is. if the SA can explain about the history of the scent or the house without referring to the brouchure, then i think they can understand gee-lan and not guerr layne

    at least thats what i observed. there's a guerlain counter at KLCC whose SA had to refer to the brouchure for info on jicky and mitsuoko. i said i was looking something for a female friend in her 20s and she dissuaded me from testing shalimar and mits, saying that those were for old ladies and recommended insolence instead. i pretended to be a perfume himbo :P
    Last edited by joey86; 6th December 2009 at 11:43 AM.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Rant: 'Dumb down' just to be understood by SAs...

    It's not just perfumes. Try any French word that's crept into English. My favorite experience was in a restaurant in Texas many years ago. I ordered some sort of beef dish and the waitress asked if I would like some "aw-juss" with it. After some probing, I finally figured out that what she was trying to say was "au jus", not even realizing what the term meant.

    I don't know how many times I've tried to order some food item with a French, Italian, German, etc. name and had to point to it on the menu to make myself understood.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Rant: 'Dumb down' just to be understood by SAs...

    SA knowledge varies...in US I find it to be near 50-50 depending on the store you're in. If you use the correct French pronunciation, they could be baffled. If you use the Americanized pronunciation, they may quickly retort with the French pronunciation nearly implying you're a rube.

    It's a constant delight and another thing to enjoy for me.

    But at Nieman, Saks, Barneys and Lucky's Scent Bar, the SAs usually have the correct French down cold.
    Last edited by StylinLA; 6th December 2009 at 07:51 PM.
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  9. #9
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    Default Re: Rant: 'Dumb down' just to be understood by SAs...

    Quote Originally Posted by Diamondflame View Post
    Know a better way of coping with this issue?
    Nope! Sorry! Last year when I asked department store SA’s for No. 5 Eau Première none of the American SA’s here in Virginia understood me - and it was right there on the Chanel counter. Only a Chinese SA understood and pointed me in the right direction, and she didn’t speak much English. But she apparently understood French. I wonder now whether I imagined her.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. G View Post
    Well, I think it's cute, not dumb or frustrating at all. I love the American accent on French.
    That is exactly what I was told years ago by a very nice French lady, “Keep your American accent, it’s charming!” She meant keep my “R’s” the American way, not completely mangle the French language – you should hear my husband. Pardoan Mon-sewer! Oy! It's pretty funny.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Rant: 'Dumb down' just to be understood by SAs...

    Quote Originally Posted by Diamondflame View Post
    ...Know a better way of coping with this issue?
    I do almost all my shopping online. :-)

    Quote Originally Posted by Diamondflame View Post
    Oh well, I guess making yourself understood is the essence of any communication...
    And I agree with this. Also, most English-speaking adults are never going to get the nuances of French pronunciation completely correct. My attempts are laughable at best. It IS fun to try, though!

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Rant: 'Dumb down' just to be understood by SAs...

    It's not just the names of perfumes.

    I once was about to get a flu shot and was asked by the nurse whether I'd ever had "Ghillian Barr." I asked, "Do you mean Guillain-Barré?" (I was a bit shocked that a nurse would mispronounce this syndrome so badly.) She smiled ruefully and replied that if she pronounces it correctly, no one knows what she is talking about.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Rant: 'Dumb down' just to be understood by SAs...

    Non-native English speakers (including French) don't always get pronunciations and nuances correctly, either. I don't criticize people for things like that.
    Last edited by beachroses; 6th December 2009 at 09:19 PM.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Rant: 'Dumb down' just to be understood by SAs...

    Even if I bastardize the french pronounciation into a more anglo way of saying it, the SA's or whomever never seem understand when I say Guerlain or Yves Saint Laurant. Yes, that is correct, I do certainly criticize people for things like that. I don't get upset, just annoyed. Know your product, please.

    Thankfully, Yves Saint Laurant is pretty much DONE with releasing anything I would be interested in. L'Homme and La Nuit ?! Yeeeeshhhh !!! No thank you

  14. #14

    Default Re: Rant: 'Dumb down' just to be understood by SAs...

    Quote Originally Posted by Diamondflame View Post
    Know a better way of coping with this issue?
    Write the French names. I do that sometimes.
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  15. #15

    Default Re: Rant: 'Dumb down' just to be understood by SAs...

    Quote Originally Posted by Surfacing View Post
    Even if I bastardize the french pronounciation into a more anglo way of saying it, the SA's or whomever never seem understand when I say Guerlain or Yves Saint Laurant. Yes, that is correct, I do certainly criticize people for things like that. I don't get upset, just annoyed. Know your product, please.

    Thankfully, Yves Saint Laurant is pretty much DONE with releasing anything I would be interested in. L'Homme and La Nuit ?! Yeeeeshhhh !!! No thank you
    YSL - usually pronounced with the american instead of yee-sah-lon. L'Homme - SAs here call it Lome

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Rant: 'Dumb down' just to be understood by SAs...

    Quote Originally Posted by joey86 View Post
    YSL - usually pronounced with the american instead of yee-sah-lon. L'Homme - SAs here call it Lome
    Thats seems like here as well. Last time I wanted to try a Yves Saint Laurant was when La Nuit came out last spring and I just said the initials Y-S-L....which got me a funny look . Ah well, the things I do to try a lackluster amber fragrance.

  17. #17

    Default Re: Rant: 'Dumb down' just to be understood by SAs...

    Quote Originally Posted by joey86 View Post
    YSL - usually pronounced with the american instead of yee-sah-lon. L'Homme - SAs here call it Lome
    Eve san lor-ron. The 'r' of Laurent can be quickly touched to the roof of your mouth. Check Youtube for YSL advertisements.
    Last edited by PorkFat; 7th December 2009 at 02:53 AM.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Rant: 'Dumb down' just to be understood by SAs...

    As long as the other party understands what you want and vice versa, mispronouncing words doesn't bother me.

    I wonder how the Japanese pronounce Guerlain... the problem is probably not just in the US.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Rant: 'Dumb down' just to be understood by SAs...

    My French is way too poor for me to criticize. I've managed to order dinner in French speaking Canada without pointing and without getting boiled shoe. But when I listened to the Chandler Burr talk (see the Frangrance Industry Discussion) I realized that most of my pronunciations were off - some a little, some a lot. Most us us aren't going to get any foreigh language's pronunciation right unless we have a year of high school or college classes.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Rant: 'Dumb down' just to be understood by SAs...

    If I could just chime in for a moment,

    I am based in the philippines, and I work as a Graphic Artist for a U.S. Based company, and let me just say that communicating with clients from america by Email and Chat isn't the easiest thing in the world, You'd think Americans would have a firm grasp on their own language, but you'd be surprised at how most people with English only as their secondary language could spell better and construct proper sentences better than people who have english as their primary languange.

    With that said, me and my friends have probably made a million crack ups and jokes about wrong pronunciation of words from our primary language and people trying to speak English with a funny Filipino accent, I just laugh it off, and don't think I'd EVER stress myself over it and worry MYSELF with the shortcomings of OTHERS.
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  21. #21

    Default Re: Rant: 'Dumb down' just to be understood by SAs...

    but i guess the important thing is to have the SAs understand what you want. I usually play the role of the perfume himbo in shops and point to what i want rather than ask -- coz chances are they wont have what i am looking for.

  22. #22

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    Cool Re: Rant: 'Dumb down' just to be understood by SAs...

    Just remember that it's Hermes with a hard H only if they're selling it wholesale, but it's always Hermès with a silent H and the accent on the last syllable if you're paying retail.



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    Default Re: Rant: 'Dumb down' just to be understood by SAs...

    Just to add:

    I thought maybe an SA promoting a (insert hard to pronounce french house) product, should know how to represent it well and accurately, which IMO should include pronouncing it (verbally) as required by the company. But I do understand that not everyone even after learning and trying (only a handful of words )can do it properly, myself included.
    Last edited by MFJ; 7th December 2009 at 05:43 AM.
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  24. #24

    Default Re: Rant: 'Dumb down' just to be understood by SAs...

    I mostly just use sign language. Pretty useful when dealing with deficient SA's


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  25. #25

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    Smile Re: Rant: 'Dumb down' just to be understood by SAs...

    Quote Originally Posted by SirSlarty View Post

    I wonder how the Japanese pronounce Guerlain... the problem is probably not just in the US.
    I got a Japanese Guerlain catalogue from a nice SA at the Tobu Ikebukuro department store. The name is transcribed into phonetic Japanese script as 'geh lahn.' No attempt to do the 'r' at the end of the first syllable. The only way to do that in the Japanese sound system would make it 'geh lu lahn.' The final 'n' in Japanese is pretty close to the French one.
    Last edited by tsuzumi; 7th December 2009 at 11:59 AM.

  26. #26

    Default Re: Rant: 'Dumb down' just to be understood by SAs...

    The lady running Guerlain's main counter here (early 20s, Chinese) speaks at least 4 languages fluently, one of them French, and when she she says 'Guerlain' I tend to go weak at the knees and just agree with whatever she says.

    Elsewhere I tend to smile a lot and look lost . . . they humour me, generally.

    Apart from Guerlain, Hermes, Chanel and the Malle counter where SAs have a fixed product line to deal with I don't get too pedantic with the French pronunciation. Cantonese is the first language here, BTW.
    Last edited by mr. reasonable; 7th December 2009 at 02:23 PM.

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Rant: 'Dumb down' just to be understood by SAs...

    I don't care how they pronounce it. It would be nice if they at least recognized the pronunciation so that they understood what was being asked for. I blame their managers/shops for not training them, teaching them more about the product they're selling.

    You'd think Americans would have a firm grasp on their own language, but you'd be surprised at how most people with English only as their secondary language could spell better and construct proper sentences better than people who have english as their primary languange.
    Timothy, you are so right about this! It's a pet peeve of mine, but it does me no good to get annoyed. Because it's the way it is...and there are fewer people who care than there are those who don't.

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Rant: 'Dumb down' just to be understood by SAs...

    The best one I've heard, when spying a heavily discounted bottle of Paco Rabanne Pour Elle in a London West End branch of a UK Pharmacy chain, asking to try the tester and after a few repeats finally having to indicate the bottle, is:

    "Oh you mean Pake-oh Rab Aine por elley." classic
    Une empreinte de moi dans la mémoire des autres... Guerlain

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  29. #29

    Default Re: Rant: 'Dumb down' just to be understood by SAs...

    My favourite mangling of French of all time is "cuir," which sounds like "queer." ROTFL!

    Another is "L'Eau Ambree," which in California comes out as "low hombre." ("Hombre" is "man" in Spanish.)

    I think a foreign accent is charming. In the movie, "Coco Avant Chanel," I love it the way her English lover speaks French. For that matter, I understand the Comte d'Orsay (who had a masterful command of English) was charming speaking English with his touch of French accent. (Now where are those smelling salts? ...)

    I would venture that the Japanese would say Guerlain as "geh-rah-nu." They cannot enunciate the "L" sound.
    Last edited by Primrose; 7th December 2009 at 07:15 PM.
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  30. #30
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    Default Re: Rant: 'Dumb down' just to be understood by SAs...

    Geh-rah-nu San...
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