Val - vale - valet - valete

From Hull AWE
Jump to: navigation, search

A group of words starting val-, some with similar sounds, can confuse spellcheckers. It includes two pairs of homographs, vale and the proper noun val.

  • The proper noun Val is either
    • an element in place names in areas where French and Italian are spoken, such as the region of Italy Val d'Aosta and the French ski resort Val-d'Isère. It is not uncommon in francophone Canada. Val is a shorter form of valle (Italian) or vallée (French), which are both near-homophones of English 'valley', with which they are cognate; or
  • an informal shortening of a forename in English, usually Valerie or Valentine. It is used by both males and females.
  • Valley (IPA: /'væ lɪ/) is shortened in English to vale - a monosyllable, which rhymes with 'rail' and 'sale'.
  • This has a homograph vale in Latin - still sometimes to be seen. It is pronounced with two syllables, and is thus essentially a homophone of valley - although purists who use the traditional Pronunciation of Classical Latin will pronounce the 'v-' like a modern English 'w-' (IPA: /'wɑːlɪ or 'wɑːleɪ/. This is the singular imperative of the verb valēre, 'to be well'. It was used as the standard phrase on parting, 'Be well! - equivalent to the English 'Farewell!'. The plural is valēte. You may like to see further at valediction.
  • A word that, for some speakers, is a third homophone of 'valley' and valle/vallée is valet, 'manservant', or 'personal attendant': 'a gentleman's gentleman'. This word, which is French in origin, is traditionally pronounced in English as an Englishman with no French would read it: 'VAL-it', IPA: /'væ lɪt/. There is a modern habit, perhaps more common in American English, of realizing the word in a way felt to be more French - as the near-homophone of 'valley' (IPA: /'væ leɪ/. The traditional pronunciation makes the forms of the verb easier to produce in English: 'valeting services', e.g. for cars, is easier to say if the '-t-' is realized.
    • In French, the card in a standard pack of cards which is called 'Jack' or 'Knave' (the least valuable of the Court cards) is called the valet. In English, some special meanings have come into use recently:
      • In horse-racing, a jockey's valet looks after kit, ensures that the rider is wearing the correct colours for the correct race and so on, as well as grooming riding boots, saddles and so on.
      • In American professional wrestling, a valet is (unusually) a female who accompanies a male to a performance in the ring.
      • In some places of entertainment, a valet will park patrons' cars for them.