The Language of Food
Winter 2008

Instructor and Course
Dan Jurafsky,
Office: Margaret Jacks Hall (bld 460) 113
Office Hours: TBD

Class Time: TuTh 3:15-4:30
Class Location: 126 Margaret Jacks Hall
  • George Lakoff and Mark Johnson. 2003. Metaphors We Live By. The University of Chicago Press.
  • John McWhorter. 2001. The Power of Babel. HarperCollins.
  • Papers from the web.
  • Papers in the course reader, which is now available at the Stanford bookstore.
Stanford Introductory Seminar. Preference to freshmen. The relationship between food and language around the globe. The vocabulary of food and prepared dishes, and crosslinguistic similarities and differences, historical origins, forms and meanings, and relationship to cultural and social variables. The structure of cuisines viewed as meta-languages with their own vocabularies and grammatical structure. The language of menus; their historical development and crosslinguistic differences.
Required Work
  • Blog: You will need to set up a blog at Everyone will be posting their weekly homeworks and their final papers to their blogs, so if you already have a blog, set up a separate one for the course.
  • Discussion: This is a seminar and so the most important component is to be in class with something to say!
  • Homeworks: The homework for this class is to post blog entries. Entries must be posted at least weekly, but more often is of course better! Your entries can be inspired by your thoughts on the readings, or could be a study you did on something you found outside of class, perhaps with some data and analysis. In some cases I'll actually give you some topics I'd like you to consider in your blog entries. I expect you to comment at least occasionally on each others homeworks!
  • Readings: To be read before the class period in which they will be discussed.
  • Final Project: A final paper which can be a research project (on any language-and-food topic), a survey, a proposal for an experiment, and so on. I will suggest some sample project ideas as the course progresses.
  • Determination of final grade:
    • 33%: final project
    • 33%: your blog entries (and your comments on others blogs)
    • 33%: discussions and class participation
Everyone's blogs Here's a page pointing to all the blogs. This page is only reachable by you guys


Topic and Readings

Jan 8

Course Overview, Background

Jan 10
HW 1

The Language of Recipes

  • Fisher, M. F. K., 1983. "The Anatomy of a Recipe". In With Bold Knife and Fork, p 13-24. Paragon.
  • Waxman, Nach. 2004. Recipes. The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food And Drink in America, pages 247-250. Oxford University Press.
  • Cotter, Colleen. 1997. "Claiming a Piece of the Pie: How the Language of Recipes Defines Community". In Recipes for Reading: Community Cookbooks, Stories, Histories, ed. by Anne L. Bower. University of Massachusetts Press. p 51-72.
  • Lakoff, Robin. 2006. Identity a la Carte; or, You Are What You Eat. In Discourse and identity (Studies in interactional sociolinguistics) edited by Anna De Fina, Deborah Schiffrin, Michael Bamberg. pp 147-165. Cambridge University Press.
Jan 15
HW 2

The Language of Menus and Dish Names

Jan 17

Background Day On Semantics: What is a Cup? And how do you know it's not a Mug?

  • Shaul, David L. and Louanna Furbee. 1998. Language and Culture. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press. p 67-73.
  • Jean Aitchison. 1994. Words in the Mind, second edition. pages 51-57. Blackwell
  • Cliff Goddard. 1998. Semantic Analysis: A Practical Introduction. p 224-237. Oxford University Press.
Jan 22
HW 3

Food and Semantics: The Meaning of Cooking Words (or, What's the difference between roasting and baking?)

  • Levi-Strauss, Claude. 1965/1966. The Culinary Triangle (translation by Peter Brooks of Le Triangle culinaire), Partisan Review 33, no. 4 (Fall 1966) 586-595. This copy from Food and Culture: A Reader, 2nd edition, ed. by Carole Counihan and Penny Van Esterik. Routledge, 2008pp 36-43.
  • Lehrer, Adrienne. 1972. Cooking Vocabularies and the Culinary Triangle of Levi-Strauss. Anthropological Linguistics. 14:155-171
Jan 24

Food and Semantics: Describing Wine

  • Lehrer, Adrienne. 1983. Wine and Conversation, pp 3-53. Indiana University Press.
Jan 29
HW 4

The Language of Taste and Texture Perception

  • Ann Noble's Aroma Wheel (this will be handed out next week, it's not in the reader)
  • Tribur, Zoe. 2006. Q. Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture. Vol 6, No. 2, pp 47-48.
Jan 31

Does language influence perception of smell/taste/color?

Feb 5

HW 5

Food and Metaphor: (or, Why does your mom call you 'honey'?)

  • Lakoff, George and Mark Johnson. 1980. Metaphors We Live By. University of Chicago. pages 3-60.
  • Caitlin Hines. 1999. Rebaking the Pie: The WOMAN AS DESSERT Metaphor. In Reinventing Identities: The Gendered Self in Discourse, Edited by Bucholtz, M. and Liang, AC and Sutton, L.A. Oxford University Press.
  • Optional/Advanced:
    • Zhou, Minglang. 2000. Metalinguistic awareness in linguistic relativity: Cultural and subcultural practices across Chinese dialect communities. In Explorations in Linguistic Relativity, Pütz, Martin and Marjolijn H. Verspoor (eds.), pp 345-363.
    • Werning, M., Fleischhauer, J. and Beseoglu, H.. 2006. The Cognitive Accessibility of Synaesthetic Metaphors. Proceedings of the 28th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. 2365--2370.
Feb 7

Word History: Etymologies of food words

  • John McWhorter. 2001. The Power of Babel. Chapter 1: The First Language Morphs into Six Thousand New Ones, pp 15-52. HarperCollins.
  • Kenneth F Kiple. 2007. A movable Feast: Ten Millenia of Food Globalization pages 105-149. Cambridge University Press.
  • Selected articles on etymologies of food words from the online OED
Feb 12
HW 6
1-pgraph project idea also due. Here are some sample project ideas.
Linguistic cues to Food Prehistory

  • Calvert Watkins. 2000. Indo-European and the Indo-Europeans. In The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. 2000. Online here . See also the family tree for Indo-European here, the appendix of Indo-European roots here and here.
  • John Huehnergard. 2000. Proto-Semitic Language and Culture. In The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. 2000. Online here . Chart of Semitic family tree here.
  • Jared Diamond. 1997. Guns, Germs, and Steel Chapter 16 "How China became Chinese" and Chapter 17 "Speedboat to Polynesia",
Feb 14

Dialect, Variation, and Food Vocabulary

  • Labov, William. 1972. The Social Stratification of (r) in New York City Department Stores in Labov, W. 1972. Sociolinguistic Patterns (Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press) pp 43-54. (Also in Coupland and Jaworski 1997)
  • Pop versus Soda:
  • Page from The Atlas of North American English on Cabonated beverage isoglosses.
Feb 19

Outline of final project due

Food and Linguistic Cultural Capital

Feb 21

The Grammar of Cuisine (or, Why do we eat dessert at the end?)

  • Douglas, Mary, and Michael Nicod. 1974. Taking the Biscuit: the structure of British meals. New Society 30:744-747.
  • Claude Levi-Strauss. 1963. Structural Anthropology. page 86-87.
Feb 26

More on the Grammar of Cuisine

  • Rozin, Elisabeth and Paul Rozin. 2005. Culinary Themes and Variations. p 34-41. originally in Natural History, Feb 1981, p 6-14. Taken from The Taste Culture Reader, edited by Carolyn Korsmeyer. Oxford: Berg.
  • Rozin, Elisabeth 2005. Flavor Principes: Some Applications p 42-48. The Taste Culture Reader, edited by Carolyn Korsmeyer. Oxford: Berg.
  • Roland Barthes. 1961. Toward a Psychosociology of Contemporary Food Consumption. Originally published as "Vers une psycho-sociologie de l'alimentation moderne" in Annales: Economies, Societes, Civilisations 5 September-October, pp. 977-986. This copy from Food and Culture: A Reader, 2nd edition, ed. by Carole Counihan and Penny Van Esterik. Routledge, 2008, pp 28-35.
Feb 28

Sound Symbolism and Food Advertising

Mar 4

Drunken Speech, the Exxon Valdez case, and Phonetics
Mar 6

Presentations 1
  • Mimi Chau     Heating and Cooling Foods: Chinese Food Pyramid
  • Liz Clair     Questioning the "It Tastes Good" phenomenon. The study of Chocolate as a linguistic tool to understand a consumer's description of taste.
  • Josh Freedman     You say Potato Chip, I say Potato Chip
  • Adrienne Gispen     The Voice of Irony: Sarcasm Recognition on The Daily Show
  • Janise On    A Melting Pot of Recipes
  • Gabriella Termont     Holy Mole or Olé Molé
  • JW Tsu    "What seems to be the officer, problem?": Recognizing Drunken Speech
Mar 11

Presentations 2
  • Lauren Carter
  • Davey Feder
  • James Gische
  • Sarah Grandin
  • Aurelia Heitz
  • Sewon Jang
  • Hannah Kohrman
  • Brian Luk
Mar 13

No class today
Mar 17

Monday: Final paper due at 12 noon