What does the word ‘ethnic’ mean? Choose the sentence that conveys its meaning accurately:
1) I bought this lovely Kenyan bracelet in an ethnic shop in Camden Town.
2) This delicious French jam comes from an ethnic grocer’s in South Kensington.
OED definition of ‘ethnic’:
a. Pertaining to race; peculiar to a race or nation; ethnological. Also, pertaining to or having common racial, cultural, religious, or linguistic characteristics, esp. designating a racial or other group within a larger system; hence (U.S. colloq.), foreign, exotic.
b. ethnic minority (group), a group of people differentiated from the rest of the community by racial origins or cultural background, and usu. claiming or enjoying official recognition of their group identity.
To my US readers: although the OED mentions ‘foreign’ as a possible meaning for ‘ethnic’, you have to use your common sense here and understand it is ‘foreign’ as in ‘exotic’. European products/goods are not ‘exotic’ – at least to people of other Western countries, who share the same ‘culture’. The word does not apply to them. If you do use it in that way, you end up with preposterous sentences like 2).
What does the word ‘antisemitic’ mean?
1) Mr Abdul Hussein claimed he had been the victim of an antisemitic attack.
2) Three youths subjected Mr Solomon Isaacs to a torrent of antisemitic abuse.
OED definition of ‘antisemitic’:
Hostility to or prejudice against Jews.
Forget the etymology, which includes all Semitic groups: ‘antisemitic’ is used exclusively to mean hostility towards Jews. I believe anyone who insists that the word should be used in its larger meaning (as I’ve read on a blog recently) is, in fact, harbouring antisemitic views.
Oh, hold on, Happy International Women’s Day!