Yale drinks

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Fri Nov 17 05:23:37 UTC 2000

>"Crème Yvette" is possible if it is a brand name, like e.g. "Cherry Heering".

I can't resist putting forth my own jejune opinions; please understand that
my ignorance of French is profound.

I think a proper noun can be whatever the namer/owner assigns: some proper
names are probably intended to "look French" without being French -- e.g.,
"L'Eggs" brand stockings -- while others may not be reasonable in any
common language -- e.g., "Exxon". If I name my house "Chateau de If" then
that is its name. Is it bad English? Bad French? Bad Spanish? No, it's just
my name for my house.

>... on the Violet Forum: "The Charles Jacquin company used to make a
>violet liqueur called Crème d'Yvette but to my dismay stopped making it 25
>years ago!"
>If the "de" should be there, I insist on "Crème d'Yvette". Any elementary
>French grammar will tell you that elision of a final -e before vowel
>always occurs in the monosyllabics "le, je, me, te, se, ce, de, ne,
>que....". Example: "n'oubliez pas d'y aller".

In this case, I think it's probably "Crème Yvette" as a trade name, "creme
yvette" as a common noun IN ENGLISH -- selon Webster's Third. [This is an
Anglophone designation for an American product, and it need not satisfy the
Académie in any case.]

But ... when I looked (unsuccessfully) for the product at the liquor store,
I found Jacquin "Creme de Strawberry", "Creme de Menthe", etc., etc., and
"Creme de Almond": what about this last one (I think it once was "Creme de
Noyaux" BTW)? I'd say if the Jacquin company chooses this name for its
product, then that's the name (although I -- like Jan Ivarsson, I suppose
-- don't like it much).

[I think at least some French authorities will accept retention of "de"
before vowel in certain restricted environments -- e.g., before an isolated
letter ("de A à Z", "en forme de S") or before quotes ("l'étymologie de
<<ivette>>") (although elision may be OK also). On the Francophone Web
there are many other -- perhaps simply erroneous -- cases: for example
"époux de Yvette" outnumbers "époux d'Yvette" in my search of
French-language sites. What about "Coordonées de Auto-Transports S.A."
(apparently Swiss)?]

>There may be a subtle pun involved in the name: "Ivette" is an odorous
>flower, like the "violette", though I do not think that it was actually
>used for flavoring. But the name sounds familiar and logical to a
>French-speaking person who knows the Crème de violette very well.

Good point! (It was too subtle for me.) Apparently "ivette" = English "iva"
or "ground-pine"?

>... when it comes to spelling, it is always preferable to keep as close to
>the original language as reasonably possible.

But what is the original language in "creme Yvette" or "creme de almond"?
Apparently "creme" has existed as an English word for > 150 years. AFAIK,
both of these expressions originated in the US.

I agree that "d'Yvette" is preferable to "de Yvette" in this context. But
what about "d'almond"? (^_^)

-- Doug Wilson

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