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How to go through customs like a civilized gentleman

You’ve built your time machine and set it to 1876. You’ve packed your trunk and carpet bag for a trip to France, but are you prepared to go through customs? Professor Auguste Beljame is here to help with his Handy Guide to French Conversation and Correspondence for Students and Travellers, already in its third edition by 1876:

Professor Beljame

Have you anything subject to duty, Sir?

Monsieur, avez-vous quelque chose à déclarer?

—Absolutely nothing at all.

Rien du tout absolument.

Do you know what are the articles subject to duty?

Savez-vous quels sont les articles soumis aux droits?

—Yes, perfectly.

Oui, parfaitement.

Where is your luggage, if you please?

Où est votre bagage, je vous prie.

—Here in this corner.

Le voici dans ce coin.

Very well, Sir, it will be examined presently.

Très-bien, Monsieur, on l’examinera tout-à-l’heure.

—Why not immediately?

Pourquoi pas tout de suite?

Because there are other passengers before you.

C’est qu’il y a d’autres voyageurs avant vous.

—Will you keep me waiting long?

Me ferez-vous attendre longtemps?

I will attend to you in a few minutes.

Je serai à vous dans quelques minutes.

—That is right, I am going to open my trunk in the meantime.

Fort bien, je vais ouvrir ma malle en vous attendant.

What have you in your trunk, Sir?

Qu’avez-vous dans votre malle, Monsieur?

—Clothing, a few books, and some small articles of no importance.

Des vêtements, quelques livres, et quelques menus articles sans importance.

And what is there in that carpet bag, Sir?

Et dans ce sac de nuit, Monsieur, qu’y a-t-il?

—Linen, shoes, etc.

Du linge, des chaussures, etc.

Very well, be kind enough to open it.

Très-bien, veuillez l’ouvrir.

I see that you have some cigars.

Je vois que vous avez des cigares.

—Yes, but only five or six.

Oui, mais seulement cinq ou six.

Not more?

Pas davantage?

—No, and you see I took care to put them on the top.

Non, et vous voyez j’ai eu soin de les mettre en-dessus.

That is right, Sir. Now you can shut your trunk and your carpet bag, and have them carried away.

Voilà qui est bien, Monsieur. Maintenant, vous pouvez fermer votre malle et votre sac de nuit, et les faire emporter.

—Who will undertake that?

Qui se chargera de cela?

One of the porters that you see here.

Un des commissionnaires que vous voyez ici.

—How much shall I have to give him, if you please?

Combien aurai-je à lui donner, s’il vous plaît?

Fifty centimes ought to satisfy him fully, I think.

Cinquante centimes devront le satisfaire amplement, je pense.

—Thanks for the information. Now I suppose that I may go.

Merci de ce renseignement. Maintenant je suppose que je puis partir.

Yes, without a doubt; I have just marked your luggage to show that is has been examined. If you had had any duty to pay you would have been detained a few minutes.

Oui, sans doute; je viens de marquer votre bagage pour faire voir qu’il a été visité. Si vous aviez eu des droits à payer, vous auriez été retenu quelques minutes.

—I cannot shut my trunk. Would you help me, if you please?

Je ne peux pas ferma ma malle. Voudriez-vous m’aider, s’il vous plaît?

Certainly, Sir, very willingly.

Certainement, Monsieur, très-volontiers.

—I see a disengaged carriage, that is what I want.

J’aperçois une voiture libre, voici mon affaire.

 

Chartopia: 5 Nineteenth-Century French Grammar Charts

In What The French?!,  we have an appendix called “PTK’s Chartopia” (PTK=Pretentious Technicality Kid, a recurring character in our grammar review book)—a land full of nothing but charts, for people who are into that sort of thing. Charts probably put most readers to sleep (myself included), but they can also be useful, and sometimes even beautiful. Here are five examples excavated from the massive Gallica online collections of the Bibliothèque nationale de France:

Titre : Paradigm or model on which all French regular verbs are conjugated, thereby reducing the numerous conjugations and exceptions, has hitherto given in every French-english grammar, to only one conjugation... by M. H. Chauvier,...1850

Titre : Paradigm or model on which all French regular verbs are conjugated, thereby reducing the numerous conjugations and exceptions, has hitherto given in every French-english grammar, to only one conjugation… by M. H. Chauvier,…1850

I don’t know who colored this verb chart, but I love it.

Abécédaire français, ou leçons tirées de l'histoire de France... Seconde édition...

Abécédaire français, ou leçons tirées de l’histoire de France… Seconde édition…

This book goes from individual letters, to the alphabet, to syllables, to words, and so on.

Jean-Baptiste Say. Papiers. III Grammaire et reliquat littéraire. 1701-1900

Jean-Baptiste Say. Papiers. III Grammaire et reliquat littéraire. 1701-1900

Individual manuscript pages from 1701-1900 are grouped into this book. I never knew that personal pronouns could look so elegant.

Tableaux synoptiques des deux parties de la grammaire française...

Tableaux synoptiques des deux parties de la grammaire française…

hmmm. could somebody please get out the watercolors?

How to learn the genders of fourteen thousand five hundred French nouns in ten minutes ! by professor Fairchild... Third edition, 1866

How to learn the genders of fourteen thousand five hundred French nouns in ten minutes ! by professor Fairchild… Third edition, 1866

From a short pamphlet that promises to teach you the gender of 14,500 French nouns in 10 minutes. All I have to say is “What the French?!”

 

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