Grammar experts: do you stay at Le Meridien or the Le Meridien?

I’ve had a bit of a weird sleep schedule since getting back from Shanghai (I slept from 4PM to 2AM last night), and unfortunately my weird sleep schedule came with some pretty weird dreams.

My first dream was actually totally awesome. I was flying from Tampa to Miami on American, and there was an aircraft substitution… to a Lufthansa Airbus 380! Due to the aircraft substitution Lufthansa built a temporary First Class Terminal in Tampa, and I was driven to the plane in a Porsche Cayenne. As it turned out they forgot to cater the caviar for the first class cabin, so the purser proactively offered me two American systemwide upgrades as compensation. Boy, my dreams are vivid.

And then there was my second dream, and I just can’t help myself with bringing this one up. In my dream I was at a 7-11 and happened to start talking to someone about Le Meridien hotels. I had mentioned I stayed at the Le Meridien in Vienna, and he nearly had a heart attack at my use of “the” given that “le” is the French equivalent of “the.” Now, my use of “the” and “Le Meridien” in the same sentence is something many blog readers have called me out on, and as a result I’ve dropped “the,” and just said “Le Meridien.”

That being said, I’m still not convinced that’s correct. Grammar is my weak point, so please accept my apologies in advance if I’m making a fool of myself. But “Le Meridien” is a proper noun (nobody would say “oh, I’m staying at The Meridien tonight”), so is it really wrong to say I’m staying at the Le Meridien tonight? Last I checked, mixing languages in the same sentence is a big no-no, so I’m not sure why it would be wrong to say “the Le Meridien.” I’d argue either way is fine depending on context, though is it really wrong to use “the” in front of “Le Meridien?”

Grammar experts, liberate me, please!

Comments

  1. “Le Meridien” together is a brand, not a proper noun, but I take your point. I used to be a strict grammar Nazi before mellowing after I left college, and I think most people wouldn’t cross their eyes at you saying “the Le Meridien.”

  2. Lucky, proper grammar would have been to put quotation marks around both “Le Meridien” and “the Le Meridien” in the title as you did in your post. Having crossed that bridge, my vote goes to “Le Meridien.”

  3. This goes under “who gives a Sh!t”.
    Regarding foreign names, you could as well start a discussion on how to pronounce BMW properly. While we’re at it, shouldn’t there be two spaces after each punctuation…

  4. A brand *is* a proper noun, and “the Le Meridien” would be correct. That said, there’s ample room for solecism here.

  5. I’m not an grammar expert but I don’t see why the fact that the article is French means you would add an English article when using it in a sentence. You wouldn’t add a “the” to English brand names that begin with “The”.

    There is a shopping mall in my area whose brand name is “The Mall at….” No one says “I’m going to the The Mall at…”.

    Nor would I ask someone to “Please hand me a copy of the The Wall Street journal.”

    But at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter. You’re writing for English professors. And it’s not as though it’s a household name among most people…who would really ever notice?

  6. Just ask yourself this: Would you stay at the The Waldorf Astoria, or blog about the The Luxury Collection, since those are brand names? 😉

  7. Oh, I love this kind of completely worthless chatter. Particularly on Saturday. 🙂

    I just call it THE Meridien. I see the Le as pompous and obnoxious, so that solves that. Keep on truckin’.

  8. I actually say, “The Meridien” when speaking english…

    However, in French, you would say, “Je reste au Le Meridien,” but never “J’aime le Le Meridien”…

  9. I try to go for a mix of “the” and “le” as a nice middle ground… “oh, we stayed at thle meridien” …people think they hear both. and they sorta do…

  10. I agree with James at the top and switch back and forth between using “the.” But I would suggest if you are in France, do not say “Le Le Meridien.”

  11. Just say “Le Meridien”, or “the Meridian”. But “the Le Meriden” is pointless, as others pointed out.

  12. Mr. Pickles – It’s part of the name though. I don’t stay at Ritz-Carlton, JW Marriott, or Hilton Garden Inn, they all start with “the” before the hotel name.

    Thus, I think since “Le” is simply part of the hotel name, it is ok and perfectly correct to call it The Le Meridien.

  13. If you wish to make the correct grammar, then it would be Le Meridien. The Le is the definitive article for Meridien, so no further the should be added. An interesting side note. JFK made a famous speech at the Berlin Wall, and he stated, “ich bin ein Berliner.” Ein Berliner is a jelly doughnut. The proper grammar (auf Deutsch) is, ich bin Berliner. Cheers to you Lucky! Chitownflyer.

  14. @chitownflyer: That is only what people think who know a bit German but do not understand the language properly. His statement was perfectly correct German and no native German speaker would misunderstand it.
    By the way: A “Berliner” does not necessarily contain and jelly and this type of pastry is not called “Berliner but “Pfannkuchen” in Berlin itself.

  15. @Bryce: Being a Colbert Report fanatic, I like the sound of that! Stephen Colbert has been gratuitously placing “the” in front of proper nouns after G.W. Bush described “The Google”.

  16. I think this is more personal preference than anything else; since you’re combining two different languages, I don’t think traditional grammar rules can really be applied. The way I look at it, since I don’t speak French, “the Le Meridien” sounds natural to me (with “I stayed at Le Meridien” just sounding pretentious), but I imagine someone who spoke both French and English might find that construction awkward-sounding.

  17. “The Le Meridien” sounds normal to me. But then again, I wouldn’t say “I’m staying at the The May Fair in London”.

  18. “Le” means “the” in French. So by saying “Le Meridien” you’re by default saying “The Meridien”. Saying “The Le Meridien” is therefore a redundancy since you’re saying the twice.

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