Thursday, July 14, 2016

You can call me what you like, but don't call me late for supper...or is that dinner?

I grew up calling my midday meal "lunch" and my evening meal "supper." I knew that some people called their midday meal "dinner", and I recently realised that there is a good number of people that also call their evening meal "dinner." So where does that leave me? I have no idea what to say now!

Malaysia 2011
I've often observed that people can be quite emotionally involved in their use of language, and I have indeed met with people that are adamant that their terminology is correct. So I decided to check it out, and here is what I have consistently found: dinner is interchangeable. This is because the word doesn't refer to the time of day but the size of the meal you are eating. Whatever is your largest meal of the day, you would refer to that as dinner. If your largest meal is midday, then your evening meal would be supper because that is the name for a light evening meal. If your largest meal is in the evening, then your midday meal would be called lunch because that is the name for a light midday meal.

If this is the common convention on how these words are used, then apparently I grew up starving because I always had lunch and supper in my world, and apparently I never had a large meal! hehe :)The few sites I checked out also said that these tend to be regionally associated as well. For example, farming communities might have larger meals at the end of the day after all the work was done, and workers would be extra hungry. So it seems like there is no real need to say it one way or the other because whatever you use where you live is just fine.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Rolling up or back or down...preposition troubles again!

If you're not familiar with Canadian culture, you may not have heard of a chain restaurant called Tim Hortons, though some of them have started opening up in the US and the Middle East. However, I'm unsure if they offer the same contest that Tim's runs early every year called "Roll up the Rim" to win all kinds of prizes, most of which include a free coffee or doughnut. Somehow it struck me today that the name of the contest makes no sense. Take a look at the photo below:

You can see that the cups are designed with rolled edges (which most cups of this type are). In order to get the cups' edges to roll like this, we are rolling them up. The contest's name, therefore, doesn't make sense because the cups are already rolled, meaning we have to unroll the rim or roll it back to reveal what we hope is winning information under the rolled up rim. The correct name of the contest should be "Unroll the Rim" or "Roll Back the Rim" if they want to be grammatically correct.

Prepositions are difficult at the best of times, and it's no wonder English language learners can easily get confused when we use multiple terms for the same thing. I'm pretty sure Tim's doesn't really care about my critique and will not be changing the name of their contest any time soon, but I'd like to acknowledge those of you are doing your best to learn English because you are to be commended!