Guide-Book Obsession Continued

Today the first two guide books from the recent batch of orders at abebooks arrived: Baedeker’s Northern Italy (beige covers instead of red ones) and THE TRAVELLER’S MANUAL OF CONVERSATION IN FOUR LANGUAGES (1878), also published by Baedeker. The latter is just fantastic: it doesn’t only cover vocabulary concerning the universe, the earth, the human body, kitchen and cellar, servants, etc., but also contains “Short Questions” (on topics such as “On board a steamboat”, “At an inn”, “Concerning lodgings”) and even “Dialogues” (this particular section starts with “Of the weather” – teehee!) as well as “Letters and Notes.”

So in honour of Cissy’s journey up the Rhine, let’s have a look at “On board a steamboat”: of course, the very first and most important question is

Which is the best cabin? – Welches ist der beste Platz? – Quelle est la meilleure place? – Qual’ é la miglior piazza?

And here we already encounter the first problem: English cabin is not really German Platz, and doesn’t the Italian word piazza normally refer to a town square? Hmm. But let’s continue with

What o’clock is it? [???] – Wie viel Uhr ist es? – Quelle heure est-il? – Che ora è?
Which is the best wine? – Welches ist der beste Wein? – Quel est le meilleur vin? – Qual è il miglior vino?
Which is the strongest? – Welches ist der stärkste? – Quel est le plus fort? – Qual è il più forte?

Isn’t this just hilarious? It’s is the 101 of How to Get Drunk on Board of a Steamboat in Four Languages! 🙂

Other lovely questions include:

Steward, will you assist this lady to go on deck, she is very unwell.
Sir, be so kind as to move a little to that side, I have not room enough.
Where is my dog?
Have you given him any thing to eat, steward?
I wish him to be taken care of.

And in case you’re going up or down the Rhine:

What is the name of that ruined castle?
Do you know in what century it
was built?
Did it belong to any celebrated family?
What is the name of the
present owner?
What is the name of that place?
What is the name of that
Is the wine produced here good?
Do you know the name of that gentleman?
Is he an Englishman?