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Examples:

Order Chinese.

Do you eat Chinese?

Does the word Chinese when used in the context of ordering food mean Chinese food?

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  • Without context neither example has any "true, inherent" meaning. In my vernacular it's simply not possible to "order Chinese" if the intended meaning is "place an order for some Chinese food" - it would have to be "order a Chinese" (notionally followed by a "deleted" noun meal or takeaway). Nov 28, 2014 at 17:34
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    order + country's/continent's adjective clearly means you are ordering a dish native of 'X' country/land. Those, who find all other subtleties in this simple phrase are too much! :P
    – Maulik V
    Nov 29, 2014 at 6:24
  • @FumbleFingers In my dialect the full form would generally be something like "order Chinese food" or "order some Chinese food", and we end up saying things like "order Chinese" with some regularity. "Order a Chinese" sounds seriously strange in my dialect.
    – user230
    Nov 29, 2014 at 20:14
  • @snailboat: We don't have that many Chinese eateries round my way. But there are plenty of curry houses, and it's quite normal to go for an Indian after the pubs close. I really can't imagine anyone dropping the article there. Nov 29, 2014 at 20:48

2 Answers 2

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I feel the need to extrapolate…

Ring an Indian - does not mean pick someone at random from the Delhi phone book & see how they are.

Go for an Italian - does not mean to pick a fight with some poor guy from Venezia.

Grab a Korean - leave the poor guy alone, huh?

Order a Mexican - is not giving him instructions on military discipline

Have a Chinese - [I'm not going to do that one out loud]

btw, none of these are in any way racist [except perhaps my 'what not to do' explanations] - they are simple verbal shorthand indicating take-away or restaurant food from a particular region.

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  • Are you saying that each of the phrases in front of the dashes are commonplace ways of ordering food of a particular style? Where are you from?
    – Jim
    Nov 28, 2014 at 18:25
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    We'd (AmE) say, "order out for some Indian" "go for [some] Italian" "grab [some] Korean" "order [some] Mexican" "have [some] Chinese". The some is optional and I estimate I say some maybe 50% of the time and 50% not.
    – Jim
    Nov 28, 2014 at 18:30
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    I'm Br E. As you say, there's an optional 'some' that can be dropped in there to save confusion. I was just pushing it for [hopefully] comedic effect ;) Nov 28, 2014 at 18:48
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Yes. It's clear from context that you mean Chinese food, not slavery.

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