This post is for Andrew Smith and all those who once agreed with him...

So, there was this one conversation, this one time.

It was about the word dinner, as applied to sunday. Some people, not saying who, think that on Sunday, the word dinner magically changes to represent the meal directly after church, which is, on all other days, called LUNCH.

I think this is silly. And I had, and still have, a good argument as to why it is a ridiculous use of language, but I thought that maybe I would provide a little anecdotal evidence for those who remain unconvinced:

This past Sunday I went to lunch at the house of a couple in our church.  I went with two friends, and this couple really wanted us to meet their kids who, just like us, are college students.  We were all very excited, especially the nice woman who had created a masterpiece of a meal.  But, in a strange turn of events, she gets a phone call from her son, saying that unfortunately when she said "Sunday dinner," they took it to mean what it literally means--the evening meal.  Perhaps if she had said Sunday lunch things would have worked out.  So, the kids never showed, and we got to enjoy even more food than we anticipated.  I had a little convo with her about her use of the word "dinner" and "supper" on sundays, we went over the history of it, and the age group that generally uses it.  I understand all of this. However, pragmatically, if the older, midwestern generation wants to communicate with the younger generation with greater clarity--Dinner is an evening meal, Lunch happens around noon, and Supper is only to be used interchangeably with Dinner. 

End of story.


Josiah said...

dinner  /ˈdɪnər/ –noun
1. the main meal of the day, eaten in the evening or at midday.
2. a formal meal in honor of some person or occasion.

I will have to respectfully disagree with you and fall on the side of the dictionary. The afternoon meal eaten on Sundays is the "main meal of the day." Thus, it may be called dinner on Sundays. I understand the complications that can arise out of such terminology but our language is (as many other languages are) full of contextual words.

Perhaps an Echo article on this topic?

annie.marie.dimond. said...

Well first of all,
I would like to use your very source to enhance my point:
"Word History: Eating foods such as pizza and ice cream for breakfast may be justified etymologically. In Middle English dinner meant "breakfast," as did the Old French word disner, or diner, which was the source of our word. The Old French word came from the Vulgar Latin word *disiūnāre, meaning "to break one's fast; that is, to eat one's first meal," a notion also contained in our word breakfast. The Vulgar Latin word was derived from an earlier word, *disiēiūnāre, the Latin elements of which are dis-, denoting reversal, and iēiūnium, "fast." Middle English diner not only meant "breakfast" but, echoing usage of the Old French word diner, more commonly meant "the first big meal of the day, usually eaten between 9 A.M. and noon." Customs change, however, and over the years we have let the chief meal become the last meal of the day, by which time we have broken our fast more than once."

The point is not how it can be defined, but how it is, at this point in history, being defined by those who use it. It is the natural next step for dinner to be used to signify the evening meal because, for most, it is the main meal of the day.

Yes, josiah, lets use opposing viewpoints to write a brilliant article about the use of words and their historical evolution. :)

Andrew said...

One word: n00b

Josiah said...

I still don't think you're getting at the point of the matter.

"It is the natural next step for dinner to be used to signify the evening meal because, for most, it is the main meal of the day."

On Sundays, the main meal of the day is the afternoon meal. Thus, the Sunday afternoon meal may be called dinner.

annie.marie.dimond. said...

i have two problems with this:

1. I just don't know too many words that are defined differently on different days.

2. I think that we are working from a the Evangelical Christian assumption that everyone goes to church and then has a big meal afterwards. And I guess I"m saying, that just not true.

So, can Christians who attend church on sunday and then break some bread together afterwards use the language within our group and exclude everyone else? What if we try to speak in terms that all of culture can understand? (how very emergent of me, right josiah?)

annie.marie.dimond. said...

i apologize for the many typos.

Josiah said...

You win this time, Annie. But only because you somehow brought the emergent debate into a linguistics debate.

Andrew said...

NO NO NO! I don't know this Josiah character, but you do not win, ANNE! You lose! It is a matter of perspective, and quite frankly, yours is wrong. You can accept defeat because you are a noble, honorable, humble person. I know you have it in you. I can't take credit for a victory because no victory has taken place. You've merely defeated yourself.

Oh, and for dragging the emergent theme into this, you should walk away with your tail between your legs. How inappropriate?! Tsk Tsk!

annie.marie.dimond. said...

Just because you feel like my argument is wrong, mr. smith, does not mean that is is. Just because you, or any other individual, feel that lunch is the main meal of the day on sundays, does not mean that this is the overwhelming majority.

Language is a way to communicate, and if you wish to only communicate with those who have your same view on the lunch/dinner crisis, then you can.

Lets have one more example to drive this home. If you are to invite someone over for sunday lunch, no matter who they are in the English speaking world, they will understand what you mean--the noonday meal. However, if you are to invite them over for sunday dinner, they might understand, or they might share the plight of the individual in the story told in the post. You are trying to hold on to something that cannot be retained, a fossil in an evolving language.

Relieve ambiguity and stop alienating yourself from others by your language.

Also, Josiah=great guy. Don't attack him silly.

Anonymous said...

my grandmaw still says dinner for lunch and supper for the evening meal.

she comments about "whatever you call it" each time we talk about it....since I was 3.

Since Andrew Smith is a townie, I give him the benefit of context.

dictionaries don't define words for specific ethno/geo/socio backgrounds, as all language has symbolic meaning and contextual usages.

that means that it is a long way from CA to Upland.