Composez le numéro.
kaw-poh-zale new-may-ROE. Click below to hear this.*
Dial the number.
Two days ago, I talked about the verb décrocher. And that got me to thinking: what other words or expressions hark back to a former reality? And, since we were talking about phones, the answer came to me: Composez le numéro.
I am old enough to remember telephone operators. When you picked up the receiver, the operator said “Number, please?” and then they connected you.
When phones acquired dials, the word demander (to ask for) no longer adequately described the procedure for getting connected.
Dial worked in English, because it is both a noun and a verb. But in French, a dial is un cadran, and there’s no verb to go with that. Enter composer, which does the job nicely. A phone number is a grouping of digits, and you have to put it together the right way to reach your party.
Push-button phones and cell phones didn’t change anything, really. Composer still describes nicely what you have to do to talk to Mom. It’s the English that is out of step here. When was the last time you dialed a phone?
*Some mobile phones, such as Blackberries, won’t display the audio player. If no player appears, here’s an alternative link to the audio file: