Sunday, January 10, 2010

Continuing My French Studies

After learning that the French are worried about trombones on their copy machines, and after my encounter with the feared Norwegian "rumpeballe," I've decided to continue my linguistic investigations.

Take, for instance, this "carte de visite," or visiting card from the 19th century. The master of "photographie artistique" is Mr. E. Bateman, from Dunkerque. Why he has a web site will be explained in a minute.

What had me wondering was the statement at the bottom that "Les cliches son conserves" (pardon the disappearing accents).

The cliches are protected?

Ben, we'll need help again on this one, like your wisdom about tampons and trombones.

Here's a bit of context: Ed Bateman lives in Salt Lake, and this version of his "Mechanical Brides of the Universe" was hanging on the wall of Ken Sanders Rare Books when I bought it.


Benabbo said...

Cliche originally meant snapshot--wait let me refer to the interweb. Well the tubes say cliche was a printing plate of moveable type (also called a stereotype).

So maybe "les cliches sont conserves" means "high quality ink," "archival quality" or "indelible ink".

It could also be that cliche wasn't pejorative at the time of the card. "Les cliches" could simply mean "phrase" or "sentiment". In that case "Les cliches sont conserves" would mean "preserve the moment," or "a greeting card is forever" (to steal a cliche from De Beers).

Scott Abbott said...

many thanks. this is a wonderful exposition.
merci, mon fils.