Last updated at 16:35 GMT, Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Al desko

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Mark Shea explains the origin, meaning and use of the expression 'al desko'. Click below to listen:

Man sitting at a desk:

Al desko

Where do you eat lunch when you’re at work? Do you go to a canteen? Perhaps out to a restaurant? Maybe you bring a packed lunch or buy a sandwich and go to that lovely park close to the office. You sit outside and enjoy the sunshine – Italians would call this eating 'al fresco', eating out in the fresh air.

Unfortunately, in today’s busy workplace many people don’t think they have time for a leisurely, relaxed lunch. They don’t even think they have time to leave the office. They just bring in a sandwich, and sit at their desk. They’re eating al desko.

It’s particularly common in Britain and America, where people are used to eating their main meal of the day in the evening when they get home from work. Perhaps the bad climate in Britain also has something to do with it – if it’s raining outside, it’s more tempting to eat al desko, to sit in the office and read the news, or perhaps do a bit of shopping or book a holiday. You can always tell which office workers like to eat al desko most – just look for the crumbs in their keyboard!

About Mark Shea

Mark Shea

Mark Shea has been a teacher and teacher trainer for eighteen years. He has taught English and trained teachers extensively in Asia and South America, and is a qualified examiner for the University of Cambridge oral examinations. He is currently working with journalists at the World Service and is the author of the BBC College of Journalism's online English tutor.