lunch vs dinner

Mikimbin

New Member
USA
Spanish
Hello: I always thought lunch was обед (12 noon to 3 pm approximately) and dinner was ужин(approximately from 7pm on). But in some textbooks and dicctionaries including Oxford, the first translation of обед is dinner and each term has both translation. Anyone has an explanation for this, please?
 
  • morzh

    Banned
    USA
    Russian
    The whole problem is that the "обед", or "dinner" which is a proper translation of it, or which you'd call "cena", is by definition THE largest meal of the day. And it does not say when it is eaten.

    So, different people eat dinner at various times:

    Russian eat it midday (обед). This is when Americans eat lunch. This is when you eat your "almuerzo".
    Americans eat it in the evening. This is when Russian eat their supper (ижин). Or when you eat your "cena".

    Hence the confusion: I recently also started calling "обед" what I used to call "ужин", as in the US I had to adapt to the local schedule, and what I eat for the supper is too large for "ужин", so it is "обед" for me.
    But Russians who just come here are confused by it.

    The timing is everything! :D
     

    rusita preciosa

    Modus forendi
    Russian (Moscow)
    But Russians who just come here are confused by it.
    There is no reason for confusion. In modern Russian that most of us use, as Natalisha said, обед (lunch) is the meal eaten during the day; ужин (dinner) is the evening meal.

    It does not depend on the size of the meal. I can have a yougurt for dinner; it will still be my dinner / ужин.
     

    morzh

    Banned
    USA
    Russian
    There is no reason for confusion. In modern Russian that most of us use, as Natalisha said, обед (lunch) is the meal eaten during the day; ужин (dinner) is the evening meal.

    It does not depend on the size of the meal. I can have a yougurt for dinner; it will still be my dinner / ужин.

    Here's what dinner means in English meal-wise (not when we say "to invite for dinner")

    din·ner (d
    ibreve.gif
    n
    prime.gif
    schwa.gif
    r)n.1. a. The chief meal of the day, eaten in the evening or at midday.

    When you translate this in Russian it just has to be a confusion as when you translate "обед" as "lunch" (and recently it is so in some dictionaries) it gives the other party a wrong idea as to the type of the meal eaten.

    A yogurt for lunch sounds fine. A yogurt for dinner sounds ridiculous and immediately paints the image of some sort of a health-freak/anorexic person. So does the Russian "йогурт на обед". As a typical Russian "обед" is the same as dinner - the largest, main meal of the day. Only it is eaten at a different time.

    PS. I once spoke to a southern guy (I mean Dixie, not Sochi) and this very subject came up; he told me: "it used to be the same here down South too, when people mostly worked in the fields; we ate our biggest meal midday".
     

    Natalisha

    Senior Member
    Russian
    I don't know, maybe it's only me, but I associate the words "обед" and "ужин" with parts of the day, not with the amount of food I have.
     

    Natalisha

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Well, it seems all Russians have the same associations as I do, because we have such expressions as "обеденный перерыв", "магазин закрыт на обед", etc.
     

    morzh

    Banned
    USA
    Russian
    Well, it seems all Russians have the same associations as I do, because we have such expressions as "обеденный перерыв", "магазин закрыт на обед", etc.

    Yes. Because in Russia dinner is traditionally eaten at midday. When Americans eat lunch.

    But lunch and "обед" are not the same at all, except the same time when they are eaten.

    In the same fashion, Russian "ужин" which is supper, cannot be explained easily either. Americans (at least where I am) do not eat supper. They eat breakfast, lunch and dinner.
    This is why.
    sup·per (s
    ubreve.gif
    p
    prime.gif
    schwa.gif
    r)n.1. a. A light evening meal when dinner is taken at midday.

    Now if you tell an American "I am eating dinner now" he will think it is late afternoon at where you are (unless he is so multy-culturally-advanced so he knows actually a couple of other countries except his own :) LOL)

    So, to make sure the time is understood, you have to then call "обед" "lunch", but then it has the wrong idea about the type of the meal.
    If you want to underscore the type if meal (the main meal of the day) and use traditional translation of "обед" as "dinner" then the timing may be misunderstood.

    To bring that to the extreme, try to imagine an ethnicity where the way of life historically dictated just one really big meal, any time of the day, whenever you can catch it.
    Try to explain this person what is breakfast vs. lunch vs/ dinner vs. supper.

    PS. There are historical reasons for the names of those meals, breakfast and dinner, being different but essentially meaning the same in different languages: breakfast is the translation of the word "dinner" (from Lat. disunare through French). Which applied to meals meant exactly that - to break one's fast. But one is a morning meal, and one, non-translated, is a day or evening meal.
     

    morzh

    Banned
    USA
    Russian
    Why I am writing all this.
    Here's my problem: I cook a full two-course meal every day for my family. Soup and entree.
    It is a large meal, and I cannot call it in Russian "ужин", as this for me means something smaller. Certainly not soup and entree.
    So I call it "обед".
    But then my ex-Russian nature revolts and says "what the heck do you mean "обед"?" It is time for supper. (my ex-Russian nature also speaks English now....it is all screwed up).


    PPS. Food terminology is really screwed up between countries.
    Let's take the "entree" . Here in the US it is main dish. But elsewhere it is an appetizer of some sort, and main dish is called "main course". We also here sometimes call it "main course". But in all menus it is "entree". Now someone accustomed to an entree being a small appetizing dish, will be confused by telling him that well, this is your main course meal.

    Anyway. I am not sure there is a perfectly good answer to all this, but one thing I know - whatever you try, you have to explain it.

    Like, if you translate "обед" as lunch, you have to then put a note that "обед" is a dinner but eaten at lunchtime. If you translate it as dinner, you have to explain that it is eaten not at the same time when "обед" is.

    And so on.
     

    Natalisha

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Yes, Morzh, I completely agree with you. That's why I gave a link in my post 2.
    And as the question is about the names of Russian meals (or am I mistaken?) I simply said
    The meal we have in the middle of the day is called "обед", in the evening we have "ужин".
    whatever it's called in Britain, America, Australia, Canada, etc.
     

    morzh

    Banned
    USA
    Russian
    Yes, Morzh, I completely agree with you. That's why I gave a link in my post 2.
    And as the question is about the names of Russian meals (or am I mistaken?) I simply said
    whatever it's called in Britain, America, Australia, Canada, etc.


    Yes I agree - this is the best approach, at least for a person who comes to Russia. Translation is not necessary as long as you say the local name and explain when it takes place during the day.

    For the poor me, though, living a life of an American, and trying to use the old names towards the new meals' types and schedule, when at home (I enforce Russian at home, and do not allow any English), I stumble upon it every single time.
    When it comes to lunch I gave up and call it so. "Ланч".

    PS. Хотя, помнится мне, по-русски это - "ленч".
    И вот, кстати, и объяснение:

    ленч

    Значение слова ленч

    Словарь иностранных слов

    ленч [англ. lunch] - в великобритании и нек-рых других странах - второй, более поздний завтрак.​
    Новый толково-словообразовательный словарь русского языка. Автор Т. Ф. Ефремова.

    ленч м. Второй завтрак после полудня или легкая закуска в другие часы дня (в Англии и США).
    ---------------
    Т.е. обедом его по-прежнему не считают.
     
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