Genealogy tools, lafourche parish, Newspaper articles

Translating French to English in Louisiana newspapers


Until the 1900s, a lot of south Louisiana newspapers were written in French. This wasn’t fancy pants journalism. Their readers read and spoke French.

Sometimes, if you’re lucky, the newspaper was printed in French and English. Usually, though, you’re not that lucky.

In an 1894 edition of the La sentinelle de Thibodaux, I came across an article – in French – about a fatal accident. Curious, I decided to retype the French into Google’s translator and see what developed. The results aren’t perfect, but I get a sense now about that fatal accident.

Google’s French to English (searchable via the search engine) is especially helpful when you’re converting typewritten French. It’s a bit trickier when you’re trying to type in handwritten French because of the likelihood of error in what you think a letter is.

Anyway, here’s the translated story of Nathan Rooks:

On Saturday night at nightfall, while Nathan Rooks was handling a pistol, the pistol went into his hands, the bullet coiling one of his friends next to him, and killing him almost instantly. As it was nut, it was first supposed that Rooks had killed his friend voluntarily, and he was consequently arrested. The preliminary examination took place last Tuesday and the evidence obtained was sufficient to cause the discharge of the accused; the examination has found that the homicide being purely accidental. This does not mean that guns are handled with too much negligence, and that it is high time to put an end to the carrying of weapons by people who are unable to use them; the carrying of arms is dangerous among the ordinarily reasonable people, how much more is the danger among those who carry them with impunity – an accident is so quickly arrived


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