Work on regional variation in mass/count nouns?

Cohen, Gerald Leonard gcohen at UMR.EDU
Tue May 15 16:36:58 UTC 2007

In a related vein, a colleague in the English department of my institution once visited Paris and wanted to order a copy of coffee.  She should have ordered "one/a coffee" in French ("un café")  but instead asked for "some coffee" ("du café"), which she unintentionally mispronounced as "deux cafés."  The waiter was puzzled and to be sure he heard right asked a bit incredulously "Deux cafés"?, which to my colleague sounded like a silly thing to be checking on, since restaurants routinely serve coffee, and why should it be necessary to even ask about this?  Anyway, she merely said, "Oui, deux cafés," and a few minutes later he returned with a tray on which were two cups of coffee.
      She graciously accepted them, although she didn't figure out until later what caused this slight misunderstanding.
Gerald Cohen
University of Missouri-Rolla



From:  Joel S. Berson, Tue 5/15/2007 11:01 AM:

Good thing we're not the German Dialect Society email list.  What
would we say about someone ordering "ein Bier"?  (Was he asking for
"a" or "one"?)  Although I'm told that one politely requests "etwas
Wasser, bitte".


The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list