the hostage special

VicNicSor

Banned
Russian
Marty, in 2015, walks into the Café '80s. On a video screen, two characters (Ronald Reagan and Ayatollah Khomeini) offer food.
Reagan:
-- Our special today is mesquite-grilled sushi.
Khomeini:
-- You must have the hostage special.
Back to the Future II, movie

I know that "special" here means "a special offer" But how do you understnad THE HOSTAGE SPECIAL, and why is it used with the definite article?
Thank you.
 
  • srk

    Senior Member
    English - US
    "The" is often used when referring to menu items: "I'll have the ham and eggs."="I'll order the item you list on your menu as 'ham and eggs'."
     

    Juhasz

    Senior Member
    English - United States
    I agree with srk in general, but when talking about "specials," the definite article must be used.

    "The Hostage Special" is the proper name of the dish, or if not of a specific dish, then the name of a category of dishes; e.g. every Friday night Alice's Restaurant offers a special, and it's always some kind of fish; they call it "the Friday Fish Special."

    As for the name, it refers to the Iran Hostage Crisis, an event that ended in the 1980s and involved Khomeini and Regan. As to what food might be included in "the hostage special," we can't possibly say.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    "The" is often used when referring to menu items: "I'll have the ham and eggs."="I'll order the item you list on your menu as 'ham and eggs'."
    Ah, I see. And what about "hostage"? Does it imply that Khomeini has anything to do with terrorists?

    x-posted with Juhasz
     

    srk

    Senior Member
    English - US
    when talking about "specials," the definite article must be used.
    A quibble: "Your" and "our" are also possible for specials. "I'd like your 'Friday Fish Special'." If Khomeini had a real affiliation with the restaurant, he could also have said "Our Hostage Special." A customer might also use "your" to refer to a dish with an unusual name -- "your 'Double Jelly-Jumble Doughnut Burger'." This also works to dissociate oneself from the name or character of the food. ("Well, there wasn't much else to choose from.")
     
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