French from The moon and sixpence
February 21, 2021 1:10 AM   Subscribe

Bureau au premier. This is a sign on the poor hotel door. Why isn't there an article before 'Bureau'? And 'au premier 'means 'a le premier etage',right? Isn't 'etage' necessary here?
posted by mizukko to Writing & Language (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I think this is just normal abbreviation but in context its possibly also acting as a little bit of an indication of the poverty - the hotel can only afford the shortest possible sign, or its part of the "we're not paid enough to do more than the bare minimum" feel.
posted by crocomancer at 3:03 AM on February 21 [1 favorite]

Best answer: "office on first"...we would do the same in English
posted by stray at 4:50 AM on February 21 [3 favorites]

(Or, even more commonly, English does it with street names: "First" rather than "First Street," "Main" rather than "Main Street." So "Entrance on First" is a clear-but-shorthand way of saying "The entrance is on First Street.")
posted by nebulawindphone at 5:50 AM on February 21

À becomes au before the masculine l'étage, so au premier étage would be correct.
posted by emelenjr at 6:32 AM on February 21

Best answer: Dropping 'étage' is common in French, and in signage the article is often dropped.
posted by ellieBOA at 6:45 AM on February 21

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