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“Controversial TikTok Trend Raises Debate About Language and Chinese Takeout in Britain”

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Charly Ann C unintentionally sparked a significant conversation when she invited her TikTok followers to join her in “plating up my Chinese” in a video. This trend involves individuals showcasing their Chinese takeout meals while discussing their menu choices and the order in which they arrange the food on their plates.

Although this may seem like a simple format, it has ignited a broader discussion about not only our food preferences but also our use of language.

Initially, TikTok users in the United States were shocked by the food choices commonly found in British Chinese takeaways. One Twitter user named Keem expressed their strong disapproval, stating, “I’ve never been more disgusted in my life. What the f*** is this?” The addition of chips (French fries) to the meal and the inclusion of curry sauce at the end also bewildered many.

Writer Angela Hui responded to some of the reactions, emphasizing the adaptability, innovation, and perseverance present in Chinese takeaways, which often go unrecognized. As someone who grew up in a Chinese takeaway in rural Wales and wrote a food memoir about her experiences, she highlighted the significant role takeaways and restaurants have played in shaping Britain’s food culture.

Angela acknowledged that these establishments served as the foundation for many Chinese families, including her own, who arrived in the country with nothing.

However, the trend’s impact extended beyond food choices and ventured into language usage, drawing attention from many American TikTok users. In a video viewed over three million times, a user named Soogia responded to Charly Ann C’s video and similar ones, focusing on the phrase “Did anyone order a Chinese?” Soogia emphasized that her criticism was not meant to be hateful towards the TikTokers using the phrase, but she found it strange that they referred to it as “a Chinese.” She asked if this phrasing was common across British dialects and questioned whether British people also say things like “I’m going out for a Greek, or a Mexican, or an Italian?”

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An American residing in the UK analyzed the grammar behind the phrase. She explained that in the US, people commonly say “I’m getting Chinese takeout” or “I’m getting Chinese food,” where “food” and “takeout” are both mass nouns, eliminating the need for the article “a.” In the UK, the term “takeaway” is used instead of “takeout,” and “takeaway” is a count noun, requiring the use of “a” before it, such as “a meal” or “a takeaway.” However, another individual pointed out that there is more to this linguistic difference.

TJ, who has spent significant time in both the UK and the US and is a first-generation immigrant who later returned to China, aimed to bridge the communication gap. From a British perspective, she stated that the phrase “having a Chinese” is certainly not racist but rather slang.

Nevertheless, TJ admitted that she avoids using this phrase and others like it because they don’t sound fully respectful to her. She believes this lack of respect is why it can be easily misconstrued as racism from an American point of view.

Importantly, TJ also highlighted the “dark history” associated with the phrase. In the past, the term “Chinese” was replaced with a racial slur and is still used by some individuals. Indeed, Soogia, the TikTok user who initially questioned the phrase, received backlash from certain TikTok users who used that very slur.

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Birminghamgist Staff is a News Reporter, making waves in the UK with insightful and Engaging reporting.

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