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A restaurant in India has found a creative way to promote the message of health and safety by turning one its most popular dishes into the shape of a face mask.

Here "promote the message of" means "impove understanding of" ? If I want to express that doing something can help promote Chinese culture, can I say it will help promote the message of Chinese culture? And in a similar way, can I say it will help promote the idea of Chinese culture?

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  • It's a bit odd to speak of promoting the idea of Chinese culture. That kinda implies that "Chinese culture" doesn't really even exist (all we can do is help people to imagine such a thing). So I suggest you just say it will [help to] promote Chinese culture. Oct 29, 2020 at 15:25
  • What I want to express is to make people know better about Chinese culture. So can I use promote the idea of Chinese culture?
    – Jones
    Oct 30, 2020 at 3:09
  • To repeat what I said in different words - you could say you want to promote the idea of Chinese culture, but personally I think it would be better to just say you want to promote Chinese culture. That because usually, to promote X means "to encourage people to like, buy, use, do, or support [or learn about] something", as answered by @Astralbee. In which context X is usually something that already exists. But to promote the idea of X sounds a lot like promote the possibility of X, which suggests that X might not even exist right now (it's just hypothetical). Oct 30, 2020 at 11:33
  • ...and you surely don't want to imply that "Chinese culture" is just a hypothetical possibility that might not even exist! :) Oct 30, 2020 at 11:34

2 Answers 2

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"Promote" in some contexts means to encourage people to like, buy, use, do, or support something. However, it can also mean to encourage something to happen. This second context is particularly used in relation to health.

For example:

"Maintaining a healthy weight helps promote good circulation."

This means that a healthy weight contributes to or encourages good circulation.

If something was said to "promote health" that would mean it has a directly positive effect on your health. In your example that is not the case. A dish in the shape of a mask does not cause good health or safety in itself - but the message it promotes is the wearing of masks, which does have a health and safety benefit.

So, the mask-shaped dish does not "promote health and safety", but promotes the message of health and safety.

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The phrase "promote the message of" is actually 2 parts.

To promote: support or actively encourage (From Google definition)

The message of: the main idea that an artist, writer, speaker, or group is trying to communicate. (From https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/message)

So putting them together means you are supporting or encouraging the main idea of the subject. So to promote the message of health and safety would be to encourage people to follow or learn about the main points regarding health and safety.

To promote the message of Chinese culture would be a perfectly natural sentence. It would mean to help encourage, support or spread the main ideas or beliefs of Chinese culture.

Promoting the idea of Chinese culture is also a natural sentence but there is a subtle difference. Promoting an idea generally means to make people think better of something instead of spreading the idea to them.

For example, a Christian might promote the message of Christianity if they wanted more people to follow Christianity and they might promote the idea of Christianity if they wanted people to be more tolerant of Christianity without actively following it themselves. These often go hand in hand though so the phrases can become somewhat interchangeable in some situations.

Depending on your specific aims, either of your sentences could be appropriate.

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