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En route

Let’s not parler Français.

It’s time to return from the summer to work, so everyone is en route to somewhere. Or else they’re outré, manqué or a la mode. French words are dotted around our writing as if we were in Paris, not Peckham. I have a friend who annoyingly says soupçon when they mean a very little bit of something. They think they’re being clever. But they’re only making me feel stupid.

Those of us who haven’t been brought up speaking French – through birth or education – struggle to understand what is meant. And even if we do, it still makes us feel a little bit inferior. We may be able to read it. But it’s unlikely we can say it out loud. We’re silenced.

At a recent exhibition at the Royal Academy, the panels kept referring to litterateurs. I battled to know what they meant. It wasn’t until the very end that it clicked. They meant writers. That’s what I am! I couldn’t even recognize myself.

I know en route is in fairly common usage. But there’s nothing wrong with on the way. (And at least we can be confident that we don’t need to italicize it, whereas we’re not sure at all what font to use with en route.) Zut! Let’s use English when we can.


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