I am challenged quite often by my 12-year-old son who is a bibliophile and enjoys adding new words to his vocabulary.
Two weeks ago when we went to dinner at a well-known multi-cuisine restaurant in the heart of Chennai, he asked me whether valet service was offered by the restaurant. “Valet service? What do you mean?” I asked. “Valet parking service,” he replied. Though I could guess the meaning of the expression from the context I pretended the expression was incomprehensible to me. “Valet parking service? It sounds strange to me,” I said. “Dad, it is quite surprising that you don’t know the meaning of this expression,” he started his lecturette. He told me that he had come across the term while playing a computer game.
Valet parking is a service offered by hotels, restaurants and other establishments. Customers alight at the front door and their vehicles are parked by a person called a valet. This service is offered free of cost to customers. It saves customers the trouble of searching for a place to park their vehicles.
The term ‘valet’ is a French word that is used in English and in many other languages. How is the word pronounced? It is pronounced in two different ways:
i) The first syllable /va/ is pronounced like the ‘va’ in ‘van’. The second syllable /let/ is pronounced like the word ‘lay’. The first syllable is stressed. /VAlei/.
ii) The first syllable /va/ is pronounced like the ‘va’ in ‘van’ and the second syllable /let/ is pronounced like the word ‘lit’. The first syllable is stressed. /VAlit/.
It has the following meanings:
1. A man’s personal male attendant, who is responsible for his clothes and appearance.
2. A driver employed to park cars.
As a verb the word has these two meanings:
1. To act as a personal attendant to someone
2. To clean/ park a car
The collocations of ‘valet’ are: valet driving, valet driver, valet driving service, valet service, valet attendant.
Here are examples of the word’s use in sentences:
A valet at a five-star hotel caused Rs 2 crore worth of damage to a Lamborghini Gallardo after crashing it into a concrete wall.
What salary does a valet driver earn in your area?
Valet parking at Kansas City International Airport seems like a good idea for folks who are running late or don’t have time to search the often crowded parking lots for an available space.
A young man confronted a valet attendant outside the 5-star hotel.
Here is a query from a reader:
I came across the term ‘hoi polloi’ in an article. What is the meaning of the term? How is it pronounced?
‘Hoi polloi’ is a Greek term which means ‘the many’ or ‘the majority’. In English it means ‘commoners’ or ‘the masses’ or ‘the lower class’ in a derogatory sense. Look at the examples of how the term is used in sentences:
Politicians and policy makers always ignore the opinions of the hoi polloi.
Most politicians do not mix with the hoi polloi.
How is the word pronounced? The word ‘hoi’ rhymes with ‘joy. The first syllable /po/ of the second word ‘polloi’ is pronounced like the ‘pa’ in parade and the second syllable ‘loi’ again rhymes with ‘joy’. The syllable /loi/ is stressed.