Help editing/indexing a series of French names...
August 3, 2006 2:23 PM   Subscribe

Paging MeFi editors/indexers and/or French speakers! Naturellement, there is

I'm editing the index for a catalogue (using letter-by-letter method, rather than word-by-word) that lists about a dozen galleries in France and Belgium. They all begin with the word "Galerie" (and are thus all falling in the "G" section of the index), so I have to move on to subsequent words to determine their particular order. But should I disregard articles and prepositions, or not? For example, should Galerie des Beaux-Arts be listed by D (for des) or by B (for Beaux-Arts)? Should Galerie L'Epoque be listed by L (for L') or by E (for Epoque)?

The letter-by-letter method would imply that Galerie des Beaux-Arts should be listed by D (and therefore follow Galerie Charles Ratton) and Galerie L'Epoque by L (and therefore follow Galerie Goemans)... but that simply looks wrong to me; I feel (but can't point to a rule to justify) that Galerie des Beaux-Arts should count as a "B" (and therefore precede Galerie Charles Ratton) and Galerie L'Epoque as an "E" (and therefore precede Galerie Goemans).

I can't find anything in Chicago that illuminates this -- its entries on alphabetization (whether letter-by-letter or word-by-word) say to disregard articles at the beginning of an entry, but not whether to use them or disregard them when they are the second word of a series of entries where the first word is identical. Any editors/indexers/French-speaking types have an answer? Merci!
posted by scody to Writing & Language (12 answers total)
My editorial intuition tells me you only ignore articles at the beginning, and once you've started alphabetizing (as with Galerie...), you relentlessly work through each letter as it comes. But I don't have a reference for this (and I Am Not A French Editor). If I find one I'll pop back in and provide it.
posted by languagehat at 2:58 PM on August 3, 2006

Galerie des Beaux Arts means Gallery of Fine Arts. If you were doing it in English, you would do it by F (for Fine), wouldn't you? Même chose en français. Looking at my French books suggests that is how the French would do it. For example, I have a Dictionnaire des lettres françaises and all the writers called de... are under ... and not de. For example the great and very underrated Belgian Michel de Ghelderode is under G and not D. I would therefore put Galerie des Beaux Arts under B. An exception might be when it is someone's name. For example if there were a Galerie de Ghelderode, it would go under de, as his full name is de Ghelderode and it is not the Gallery of Ghelderode.
posted by TheRaven at 3:41 PM on August 3, 2006

IANAFE, however french is my mother tongue. I say that languagehat and TheRaven are right.
posted by fondle at 3:46 PM on August 3, 2006

I'm sorry, that was an unclear answer. To me, it looks right in this order:

Galérie des Beaux-Arts
Galérie Charles Ratton
Galérie l'Epoque
Galérie Goemans
posted by fondle at 3:54 PM on August 3, 2006

How can they both be right? They're disagreeing!
posted by AmbroseChapel at 3:55 PM on August 3, 2006

I know, I didn't read the answers well enough. TheRaven has the right answer...
posted by fondle at 3:59 PM on August 3, 2006

First question: is this index in an English- or French-language book?

I found in the index of a scholarly art book (in English) that each museum naturally had its own listing, arranged as The Raven suggests. In addition, all museums were grouped under a heading "Museum," where they were arranged first by locale and then alphabetically. So under "Museum," the first entry was "Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum" then "Amsterdam, Stedelijk" followed by "Basel, ..." , then "Berlin, ... " etc. That strikes me as a good compromise, because not all readers will know the original French/German/Italian names.
posted by rob511 at 4:23 PM on August 3, 2006

For example, I have a Dictionnaire des lettres françaises and all the writers called de... are under ... and not de. For example the great and very underrated Belgian Michel de Ghelderode is under G and not D.

But those are initial letters you're talking about. The question is about medial letters. I stand by my advice, and I have an index to support it: Jacques Hillairet's Connaissance du vieux Paris indexes Ville-de-Reims (hôtel de la) before Villedo (rue).
posted by languagehat at 5:35 PM on August 3, 2006

Aaaand... Atget Paris indexes Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois before Saint-Germain-des-Prés. So there is no standard; each French person does it however the hell they feel like it, and you should do the same. Just be consistent. Nom d'un nom d'un nom...
posted by languagehat at 5:40 PM on August 3, 2006

En français, les articles définis le, la, l', les… ne seront pas utilisés pour le classement, tout comme les articles indéfinies un, une, des…

In french, the definite articles le, la, l', les... will not be used for the alphabetical order, just like the indefinite articles un, une, des...

If it matters... :|
posted by fondle at 6:30 PM on August 3, 2006

Best answer: But again, they're talking about the start of an entry. The line you quote is followed by:

En anglais, l'article the, a, an… ne sera pas utilisé pour le classement.

This is true for initial position but not medial. I have already given examples of both orders in medial position; clearly there is no fixed standard.
posted by languagehat at 6:01 AM on August 4, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for the input, everyone! Since it indeed appears that there's no standard for medial articles in this sort of case, I'll just pick one way to do it and stick with it (I'm leaning towards ignoring them, as with initial articles). Thanks again.
posted by scody at 10:36 AM on August 4, 2006

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