Cafe vs. Café

Bristi

Senior Member
Spain, spanish
Good morning everyone!

I have a question; I think I have seen both "cafe" and "café" used, meaning cafeteria. Are both ok?

Thanks!
Bristi
 
  • Bristi

    Senior Member
    Spain, spanish
    Yeah, I've seen here, at wordreference, that they write cafe, wothout an accent. But I've always written it with the accent (café)... so I was wondering...
     

    Bristi

    Senior Member
    Spain, spanish
    No, actually I meant I found it without accent in the dictionary, not in the forums... that is why I became hesitant to use one of them before confirmation...
     

    Vinlander

    Senior Member
    Canada, American English (mostly)
    Good morning everyone!

    I have a question; I think I have seen both "cafe" and "café" used, meaning cafeteria. Are both ok?

    Thanks!
    Bristi
    But in AE at least it isn't the same thing as a cafeteria and isn't, I am pretty sure, short for it. It means a relatively small and informal restaurant that, presumably serves coffee. I am virtually certain it comes from the French café (hence the accent) and has pretty much the same meaning (though whether the coffee will be as good...?)

    Oh, and the logic of the accent is that it is pronounced in the French fashion (i.e., not a long A and the E is pronounced, eh, and accented), in both BE and AE, always.

    In NA if the establishment has an accent in it, it probably has more pretensions, if not, the coffee is probably weaker.

    Vinlander
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Etymologically connected, but not absolutely identical:

    A café derives from French, café, coffee shop.
    A cafeteria derives from Spanish, cafetería, coffee shop.

    Now, is a cafe an accentless café or an abbreviated cafeteria?
    If it serves 153 varieties of coffee, it is probably the former;
    If its customers refer to it as the caif or the caff, the latter.
     

    Vinlander

    Senior Member
    Canada, American English (mostly)
    Etymologically connected, but not absolutely identical:
    At least in NA they are quite different. A cafeteria is marked by self-service. You take your tray along the line and take or are given food and drink. It would not be entirely illogical to say "a cafeteria style cafe/coffee shop" (though how that would differ from just a cafeteria isn't clear).

    A café derives from French, café, coffee shop.
    A cafeteria derives from Spanish, cafetería, coffee shop.
    In NA cafe and coffee shop are pretty much synonymous.

    Now, is a cafe an accentless café or an abbreviated cafeteria?
    If it serves 153 varieties of coffee, it is probably the former;
    If its customers refer to it as the caif or the caff, the latter.
    In NA this really doesn't ring true. Most cafes just serve coffee (one sort, plus, maybe, decaf for wusses). If you were to ask what sorts of coffee they sell, you would be directed to the Starbucks down the street (for which the term cafe would probably not be applied, interestingly MS Word just automatically added the accent to cafe).

    Caif or caff is not a term I have ever heard in NA (oddly, North Americans seem to shorten words less the either Brits or, especially, Aussies/Kiwis), though if I did, I would know that it referred to a cafeteria in the NA sense.

    Vinlander
     

    Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    Interestingly, my somewhat old paper OED uses the accent, but the online uses the non-accented version. It's a word I rarely write, but accents are generally awkward on English keyboards, so I only use them when absolutely necessary; cafe does not fall under this category of words!

    When I was young, I pronounced cafe as caffy (another variation of caff and "caif"), but I do now say café.
     

    Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    OED defines cafeteria as a self-service restaurant. This is referring to BE usage. I agree with this. It sounds like a 60s or 70s word to me, and I don't hear it much these days, except perhaps in the sense of a dining room in a place of work, a department store, museum, hospital, etc. The primary function of a cafeteria (in this UK sense) is not to serve coffee per se but to serve meals and refreshments of all kinds, often for those out shopping or visiting one of the places I mentioned.
     

    Trinibeens

    Senior Member
    NYC
    U.S. English
    Good morning everyone!

    I have a question; I think I have seen both "cafe" and "café" used, meaning cafeteria. Are both ok?

    Thanks!
    Bristi
    In AE a cafeteria is usually a large, brightly-lit room where people stand in line with a tray, moving food to the tray as they pass various offerings. At the end of the line, they pay a cashier for the food on their tray. They then eat the food, usually at communal tables. Cafeterias are associated with institutions such as schools, or organizations such as corporations.

    Cafes are quite different, as others have pointed out. The word is acceptable in AE with or without the accent.
     
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