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I've noticed that some native speakers of English find "beef noodles" okay, but others think it's Chinglish. For those who think it is odd, does "chicken fried rice" sound odd too?

Is there a uniform explanation for people's acceptance or rejection of these terms?

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  • 1
    The question is for those who reject "beef noodles" in the first place.
    – Apollyon
    Nov 26 '20 at 11:48
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    Can you give a source for your statement that native speakers find beef noodles odd?
    – mdewey
    Nov 26 '20 at 13:00
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    forum.wordreference.com/threads/… A user said, "It certainly sounds like Chinglish to me. It may be well-established Chinglish within the context of talking about this dish, but Chinglish nonetheless."
    – Apollyon
    Nov 26 '20 at 13:04
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    I'm voting to close because you seem to have already decided what answer you want to get.
    – The Photon
    Nov 26 '20 at 16:04
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    @ThePhoton it's a shame because I mistakenly thought there was a decent question lurking here and put quite a bit of effort into my answer. As you say, the OP isn't looking for an English grammar answer - they are fishing for some kind of opinion-based answer from people who "think" something sounds funny. I certainly won't be answering their questions again after this.
    – Astralbee
    Nov 26 '20 at 22:29
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'Chinglish' is used to describe phrases that have been literally translated from the Chinese language into English, perhaps retaining the original structure, or having some idiomatic meaning in the original language which is lost in translation. Similar terms exist for other languages.

The examples that you gave are the names of dishes, not really phrases, so I don't see them as examples of 'Chinglish'. Further, I don't see anything unusual about "beef noodles" or "chicken fried rice". Perhaps you imagine it sounds like the noodles are made out of beef and that it should be "beef with noodles"?

There are plenty of similar examples of western cuisine where the names follow this structure. For example "raisin toast" is not toast made exclusively out of raisins - it is toast made from bread with raisins. We also have "cheese scones" - scones made with cheese added for flavour. There are American dishes such as "chicken fried steak" (steak fried in the style of fried chicken - it's not even chicken) or "buttermilk chicken" (chicken soaked in buttermilk before cooking). There really is nothing strange to an English speaker about "beef noodles" or "chicken fried rice".

Given that the examples you cite are widely used by English speakers, and that there are countless other traditional British and American dishes with names that defy grammar or structure, anyone native English speaker who says (as you claim some do) that they sound 'odd' is stating an opinion and not one grounded in English grammar.

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  • "raisin toast" is a kind of toast, and "cheese scone" is a kind of scone, but is "beef noodles" a kind of noodles?
    – Apollyon
    Nov 26 '20 at 13:35
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    It's a kind of noodle dish, yes.
    – Astralbee
    Nov 26 '20 at 13:35
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    @Apollyon I'm British. Yes we do find it odd that Americans say "macaroni and cheese", but that clearly isn't a strict structure - they say "blueberry pancakes", not "pancakes with blueberries".
    – Astralbee
    Nov 26 '20 at 13:40
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    @Apollyon I think you're looking for something that isn't there. Nouns are sometimes inexplicable. Why is it macaroni cheese, not cheese macaroni? Why does the flavour go second when it goes first in cheeseburger? The entire thing is a noun. "Vegetable rice" is a Chinese dish popular here in England. We know it doesn't mean rice made out of vegetables - it's a dish incorporating vegetables and rice. Likewise, your dishes are just ones that contain noodles.
    – Astralbee
    Nov 26 '20 at 13:44
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    @Apollyon I completely disagree with that sweeping generalisation. Please do some research - I've just googled 'vegetable rice' and limited the results to USA websites - there are loads of hits. The names of dishes become idiomatic over time. 'Cauliflower Rice' for example is actually a dish where grated cauliflower is substituted for rice, but you'd just have to have that knowledge, there is no strict naming convention for dishes. Bye for now.
    – Astralbee
    Nov 26 '20 at 13:49

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