Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Napoleonic Phrase Book

Genlis, [Stéphanie Félicité] Mme. de. The traveller's companion for conversation: being a collection of such expressions as occur most frequently in travelling and in the different situations of life; in six languages: English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, and Russian. Leipzig and London: J. H. Bothe, 1817.

The book’s title says it all. This pocket book is what is generally known as a phrase book or polyglot dictionary, and a Napoleonic era traveler would find it handy for making himself understood in a range of circumstances, from the everyday to the uncommon -- even sinister or threatening. I’ve reproduced a few pages here to give a sense of how one might communicate in certain rencontres following a battle.

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