minor OED annoyance

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Sun Dec 26 23:29:47 UTC 2010

On Sun, Dec 26, 2010 at 6:09 PM, Victor Steinbok wrote:
> > Draft additions July 2002
> > B. n.
> > colloq. (chiefly Brit.). (a) A meal served at a Chinese restaurant;
> > (also) a Chinese takeaway meal; (as a mass noun) Chinese food. (b) A
> > restaurant serving Chinese food.
> Chiefly British? In what universe? If I went out for Chinese last night,
> I certainly was not doing it in London. This is an absolutely
> unnecessary qualifier, especially for 2002! [In fact, a parallel meaning
> for "Italian" is completely missing--no such parallel for "English", of
> course, for obvious reasons ;-) ]

As I understand the entry, the BrE usage is "Chinese" as a count noun,
as in the 1980 cite from _Time Out_: "Most popular are the pubs, a few
pints and a Chinese before home." (Cf. "Indian" sense 10: "Brit.
colloq. (a) A meal served at an Indian restaurant; (also) a takeaway
Indian meal; (b) a restaurant serving Indian food.") Perhaps the
"Chinese" entry could be slightly reworked to make it clear that the
mass-noun usage is not "chiefly Brit."


Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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