Oxford English Dictionary Adds 'Banh Mi' to Dictionary

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Ah, the august Oxford English Dictionary (OED), grammatical gatekeeper to all that is proper and just in the world of the English language. The great thing about the tongue of Shakespeare, of course, is how it absorbs foreign words as they inextricably become part of the Empire--and, just this week, OED deemed bánh mì worthy of inclusion.
"As the culinary appetites of the English-speaking world grow ever more diverse, loan words referring to new cuisines are a perennial source of new OED entries," explains Katherine Connor Martin, senior editor of new words (how awesome a job is THAT?!) for the dictionary. Other foods such as California roll and doughnut hole made the cut--but let's save that for another post.

In the meanwhile, our only quibble: Wherefore are the diacritics, OED? It's "bánh mì," not "banh mi". . .

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23 comments
jfalfjak;
jfalfjak;

I think they should respect the Vietnamese culture and add the accented marks on the words (even though many would disagree and say that they are adding a "new" word to the dictionary so the words would not need accented marks) but then again...if you think about it...they are technically not adding a new word since in Vietnamese "bánh mì" means bread... LITERALLY!!! (so in the end, to make it at least...sort of...unique, they should've added the accented marks.

Viet Guy
Viet Guy

Seriously, the translation of that word from Vietnamese to English is bread. So they're basically adding bread to the dictionary but in a different language.

T.L.
T.L.

Hi Gustavo, Banh Mi The Comedy Short is official coming to The OC. It's screening at UCI Apr 9, 1PM HG 1070. Since you're such a SoCal Banh Mi devotee, I wanted to personally invite you to the screening at the 2011 Vietnamese International Film Festival. I've enjoyed your pieces throughout the months I've been reading you, and your support would be welcome! The official trailer is up at octobercobra.com

aprilsfool
aprilsfool

or résumé, or frappé, or naïve, or soufflé

Dwayne
Dwayne

Those little marks don't mean anything in English. They're not adding a Vietnamese word to the English language, they're adding a new English word.

Dwayne
Dwayne

So that begs the question: Is the word "bahn mi" derived from the French word "pain" which means bread? And the same Latin root gives us "pan" in Spanish. They all sound similar, but of course the Viet word would not have come from the Latin.

Tbplayer
Tbplayer

Most of those examples are accents. The marks above the Vietnamese words aren't accents, that I can tell. It's not pronounced BAWN MEE. It's more like buhn meh. The mark above the vowel changes the pronunciation.

aprilsfool
aprilsfool

or résumé, or frappé, or naïve, or soufflé

Dave Lieberman
Dave Lieberman

At least they spelled it right... can you imagine if they'd done like dozens of supposedly-august publications and spelled it "bahn mi" or, worse, "bang mi"?

Dave Lieberman
Dave Lieberman

Probably not, because bánh refers to pretty much any starchy stuff. Bánh ướt are close to what the Chinese would call cheung fun; bánh su are cream puffs (and yes, "su" is pronounced like and most probably comes from the French "choux"), bánh tét are rice rolls served around Tết (look carefully—the diacritics are different and bánh tét means sliced starchy-stuff).

Besides, if that were true, the first French explorers to go to Vietnam may have left from Marseille—in which case the word would be "pang". (That's a Marseillais-accent joke, for those who are blinking in confusion. The French word "pain" is pronounced "pang" in Marseille.)

Kinh Guy
Kinh Guy

I'm Vietnamese and I agree with Viet Guy. It's pretty lame to include 'banh mi' in the English language. There's already a word for it and it's called BREAD.

Dwayne,Wild guesses on the web are just that, wild guesses. 'banh mi' is not derived from any foreign word. So, don't be an ignorant armchair linguist sitting behind a computer, spreading misinformation.

T.L.
T.L.

It's a prospective comedy series about two hapless white hipsters who have to team up with an "unlikely" partner to run their Vietnamese sandwich shop. The themes of the show deal with the American majority's misappropriation of minority cultures and lifestyles, without truly understanding much about the minority peoples themselves.

My view is that food helps introduce us to other cultures, but only through true interactions with the people of these cultures do we achieve any real understanding of one another.

But ultimately, the show is about getting laughs, and is comparable to It's Always Sunny or Flight of the Conchords, though not quite as polished as those great shows yet...

jfdk
jfdk

are you serious?!?!!?you think those marks above the words are not accents?!?!?are you that ignorant?

Dave Lieberman
Dave Lieberman

The marks above bánh mì are diacritics. Some diacritics in Vietnamese change the vowel, but most mark tone. In this case, it tells you the first word is pronounced with a rising tone and the second is a falling tone.

The tréma (ï) in French indicates that the vowel is to be pronounced separately, not as a diphthong. Noël is pronounced "no-ell", but poêle is pronounced "pwahl". The circumflex (ê) generally indicates that at some point deep in the mists of time, there was an s that was eradicated, so that château was originally chasteau or casteau (which makes it easier to see the link to the Spanish castel, Italian castello, etc.)

Kinh Guy
Kinh Guy

Some morons on some moronic forum were going on and on about how the French introduced the word 'mi' to the Vietnamese language as if the Vietnamese didn't have a word for wheat before the we-don't-shower-everyday French came. Vietnamese do eat noodles made from wheat and it's called 'mi.' If 'mi' is derived from anything, it's probably Chinese since Vietnamese don't even grow wheat.

Kinh Guy
Kinh Guy

@GustavoThe reason I takes issue with the wild claim that the word 'banh mi' is derived from a French word is because it's wrong. Secondly, that claim keeps showing up on web forums from people who just believe anything that they read and then repeat that information. The web is already filled with false information. It's like a house filled with trash and with it, rats which then spread diseases. A web that is filled with lies and misinformation also spread disease, the disease of the mind.

Somebody already explains what 'banh' means. 'mi', in this case, means "wheat." and no, it's not derived from any French word.

Here's some trivial facts about how the word banh mi is used in Vietnamese

hamburger = banh mi hamburger

[square log of sliced] bread = banh mi goi (banh mi that is shaped like an old-styled Vietnamese pillow). Goi here means pillow

baguette = banh mi baguette.

banh mi khong = bread with no other fillings

banh mi pate thit = banh mi with pate and meat

banh mi chay = vegan banh mi. Seriously, why don't they just eat grass. It probably tastes the same.

Dave Lieberman
Dave Lieberman

Yes, but to English speakers who don't know that, bánh mì means "French roll or baguette stuffed with tasty, tasty things and sold for a couple of bucks". Though that's probably not how the OED defined it. I wouldn't know, because I'm not sure how relevant the OED is to my life.

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