Chinese Japanese (food)

redgiant

Senior Member
Cantonese, Hong Kong
I know "Chinese" can refer to Chinese food, but would the same be true of Japanese to mean "Japanese food"? Do you prefer to keep it clear by using "Japanese food"?

I usually order out for Chinese from that restaurant. I can't stand loud talkers sitting next to me.

I usually have Japanese for dinner.
 
  • Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    If I did order Japanese food to take away or be delivered, I expect I would use Japanese in that way in informal conversations. We talk about " having Chinese tonight" or "having Indian" and we would say Let's have Italian/Thai if we didn't want to eat in the restaurant, so I can't see any reason why we wouldn't or couldn't use any national adjective in the same way, in this context.

    I find your sample sentence rather puzzling though because I am not familiar with restaurants which serve more than one national cuisine. But never mind ... :) I think I've understood your question.

    Hermione
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    I find your sample sentence rather puzzling though because I am not familiar with restaurants which serve more than one national cuisine. But never mind ... :) I think I've understood your question.
    I believe the first sentence is simply an example of "Chinese" being used to mean "Chinese food." And the second sentence is the focus for the question. :)

    In Hong Kong we have many/several/some restaurants serving more than one national cuisine, e.g. Indian/Malaysian/Thai. But I haven't seen any Chinese/Japanese restaurants. ;)
     

    stormwreath

    Senior Member
    English - England
    From a British perspective; we certainly do say "Chinese" to mean Chinese food, "Indian" to mean Indian food, and so forth. Using "Japanese" the same way would be logical and understandable. However, Japanese restaurants are rare enough around here that some people might be confused what you mean, and do a double-take because they think you're confessing to cannibalism. :)

    Personally, I think it would be more likely to refer to the type of food in this case - "I usually have sushi for dinner" - or to say "Japanese food". But places more accustomed to Japanese cuisine might drop the "food" part of that expression.
     

    JustKate

    Moderate Mod
    I think if the context clearly involved food - e.g., "Where would you like to eat tonight?" or "What (food) are you in the mood for?" - Japanese would be perfectly clear and understandable. In AmE, as in BE, it's very common to answer such questions by using the nationality to mean the food associated with that nationality: "I could really go for some Mexican" or "Anything but Chinese - I've had that twice this week." Japanese is more unusual, certainly, but I wouldn't blink an eye if someone said "We haven't had Japanese in a long time - let's go to that new place on Meridian," and I would instantly assume the meaning was Japanese food, not, you know, cannibalism. ;)

    Edit: If the context were less clear, it might be different, though. For example, if a friend suddenly said, out of the blue without any previous mention of food, "I love Japanese," it might take a few seconds for me to realize she meant Japanese food as opposed to, say, the Japanese language or something. I probably wouldn't have this problem with something more common, such as Mexican or Chinese.
     
    Last edited:

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    I usually have Japanese for dinner.
    I wouldn't say this to refer to food. The reason isn't that I'd suppose anyone would think me a cannibal but that it would only secondarily mean food to me; rather, it would suggest that I usually have Japanese dinner guests at my house.

    I think, from looking at prior responses, that a great deal depends on where you live and on local expressions. Where I live, there are increasing numbers of Asian people, both immigrants and Asian-Americans. There are also many restaurants specializing in various ethnic cuisines; I can think of four Japanese restaurants alone within three blocks of my house, and there are also Chinese, Italian, Turkish, and others nearby.

    Bottom line: I wouldn't use any of these alone; I'd always follow the nationality with the word food or cuisine.
     

    redgiant

    Senior Member
    Cantonese, Hong Kong
    I agree with all that has been said. I also think that the reason Japanese isn't common to mean "Japanese food" is that sushi is such a dominant representation of Japanese food that it has become a convenient term to mean "Japanese food". It can save the hassle of specifying other types of Japanese food that may not be widely known by people.
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    I agree with all that has been said. I also think that the reason Japanese isn't common to mean "Japanese food" is that sushi is such a dominant representation of Japanese food that it has become a convenient term to mean "Japanese food". It can save the hassle of specifying other types of Japanese food that may not be widely known by people.
    Maybe in Hong Kong, but hereabouts, where we have a very large number of ethnic Japanese, I would not leap into that conclusional abyss.
     

    Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    I agree with sdg. Saying "sushi" to mean "Japanese food" is like saying "chow mein" for Chinese food, or "curry" for Indian food or "pizza" for Italian food ... etc, etc.

    Ws:)
     

    JustKate

    Moderate Mod
    We don't have that many Japanese restaurants around here (though we have some, of course), and the Asian population isn't large, but even so I agree with both Wordsmyth and SDG. At least as far as I can tell, it hasn't come to the point that sushi=Japanese food. There's some overlap, what with sushi being Japanese :), but if someone said to me, "Let's go out for sushi," I'd assume he meant sushi or sushi/sashimi - not Japanese food in general. And if he said, "Let's go out for Japanese," I'd assume we were going somewhere that offered a number of Japanese dishes, probably including sushi.
     

    Alxmrphi

    Senior Member
    UK English
    "We're going out for some food? Want in?"
    "Where are you going?"
    "We're going to have Japanese."

    - Fine for me.

    The real world is never so devoid of context that would allow for some of the interpretations that other people are suggesting here. Not in my opinion, anyway.
     
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