Remember the Al a mode

Don't let foreign expressions trip you up.

It’s hard to avoid French words when you’re composing a menu. After all, the word “menu” itself is French! Menus, by far, top my list of favorite places to find editing opportunities. 

We were out for lunch this weekend, and the menu was professionally done. I was hard pressed to find an error. We ordered our meals, and the server took the menus away. We settled in for an uneventful lunch. And then, it happened: I spied the dessert menu hiding behind the ketchup. I picked it up and — voilà! My patience was rewarded with the error du jour

The term “à la mode” means, literally, “according to the fashion.” I’m not sure when it started to mean “with ice cream,” but that’s how most Americans now relate to the term. 

Al a mode,” on the other hand, simply serves to validate the French opinion of Americans. 

In short, if you use foreign words to be à la mode, be sure to use them correctly.

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7 Comments

Filed under foreign words

7 responses to “Remember the Al a mode

  1. Kathryn McCary

    I wonder if Mr. a mode is any relationship to Et. Al., a frequent party respondent in our local City Court? City court handles evictions. Landlords don’t like to pay lawyers to represent them in evictions, so they do their own paperwork using forms they find on the Internet (or copy from each other). Somewhere along the way, some landlord apparently was copying from a petition in which, at the end of the list of tenants in the title, the petitioner had added “et. al,” (for the Latin “et. alia” meaning “and others”), and thought it was required. . .so now the pro se petitions routinely have Et. Al. at the end of the list of Tenants to be evicted. . .

  2. Kathryn McCary

    Several times in the last few days I have found my mind drifting back, with awestruck horror, to another aspect of that memo. A stout float? It actually casts into the shade my previous all-time most horrifying drink: the Bavarian Radlermasse (bicyclist’s measure–there’s supposed to be an umlaut on the a, but some things are beyond me), consisting of half beer and half orange soda. . .

  3. Kathryn McCary

    Sigh. Menu, not memo. I blush!

  4. No worries! I agree wholeheartedly on the beer + ice cream stomach-turning sensation. On several occasions I started to read the description but then stopped. Your other drink is up there near the top on the scale of awfulness.

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