Think 53
Food Talks: The Language of Food

Spring 2017, Tuesday/Thursday 1:30-2:20, 420-040

Course Description: How does the language we speak influence how we think? Can the way we talk about food influence how it tastes? What do food migrations and the names for foods tell us about globalization? In this course, we look at the ways we talk about food as a window into history, psychology, culture and economics, drawing many examples from East Asian food and culture as a point of contrast with foods and cultures that may be more familiar to each of you. We will think critically about language and taste as well as explore the hidden meanings and influence of the language that surrounds us. You will analyze the language of food through menus, recipes, Yelp reviews, TV food shows, as well as the history and etymology of food words. This course satisfies the Aesthetic and interpretative Inquiry (AII) and Social Inquiry (SI) Ways.



Dan Jurafsky (
Dept. of Linguistics and Dept. of Computer Science
Office Hours: 117 Margaret Jacks Hall
Tuesday 2:30-3:30 and by appt (except: May 25: 5:00-6:30)
Bronwen Tate (
Thinking Matters Teaching Fellow
(Course Coordinator)
Office Hours: Wednesdays 10-11am Sweet Hall 220A and by appointment
Gabe Rodriguez (
Thinking Matters Teaching Fellow
Office Hours: Wednesdays 2-3pm, Sweet Hall 2nd Floor, and by appointment
Yoshiko Matsumoto (
Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures and (by courtesy) Department of Linguistics
Office Hours: 310 Knight Building, Tues 2:30-3:30 and by appointment
Sarah Perkins (
Thinking Matters Teaching Fellow
Office Hours: Tuesday, 2:30-3:30, Sweet 223A and by appt
Elise Stickles (
Thinking Matters Teaching Fellow
Office hours Tuesday, 3:00-4:00, Sweet Hall Second Floor, 220D, and by appointment
Chenshu Zhou (
Thinking Matters Teaching Fellow
Office Hours: TBA Sweet Hall 217A, and by appointment

Section Times

Section 2: Tue/Thurs 4:30-5:20, Building 160 Room 125 - Elise Stickles
Section 3: Wed/Fri 10:30-11:20, Thornton 210 - Elise Stickles
Section 4: T/Thu 4:30pm-5:20pm, 160-325 - Chenshu Zhou
Section 5: W/F 11:30am-12:20pm, Lathrop Library Rm296 - Chenshu Zhou
Section 6: W/F 12:30-1:20pm in 200-201 - Bronwen Tate
Section 7: W/F 11:30am-12:20pm 200-201 - Bronwen Tate
Section 8: W/F 10:30am-11:20pm Education 206 - Gabe Rodriguez
Section 9: W/F 9:30am-10:20pm Education 206 - Gabe Rodriguez
Section 10: Wed/Fri 9:30-10:20, 260-244- Sarah Perkins
Section 11: Wed/Fri 10:30-11:20, 260-244 - Sarah Perkins

Required Materials

Schedule (Tentative)

Week Date     Homework In class Readings or Videos (to be read/watched before class)
Module 1: Does language influence how we think, perceive, or taste?
1 Apr 4 - Introduction to the course [slides]
Apr 6 Language and Culture [slides]
2 Apr 11 Language and Thought [pdf] [pptx]
Apr 13 Sound Symbolism and Synesthesia [slides pdf] [slides pptx]
  • Jurafsky, Dan. (2014). The Language of Food. Norton. Chapter 12: Does This Name Make Me Sound Fat? Why Ice Cream and Crackers Have Different Names.
  • Plato. Cratylus, the 3 very short selections in boldface here (CTRL-F search for "Food Talks" 1, 2, and 3 in the rtf file)
Module 2: Metaphor and Magic in Language
3 Apr 18 - The Magic of Food Names and the Ideophone [pdf slides]

If you want more info: original works mentioned in lecture slides:

  • Matsutani, Minoru. "Impress Your Hosts with Osechi Meanings," Japan Times.
  • Dingemanse, Mark. "Do You Know This Feeling?" (blog entry)
  • Dingemanse, Mark. "Sound Symbolism in Language: Does nurunuru mean dry or slimy?" (blog entry)
  • Freeman, Ellen. "15 Japanese Food Onomatopoeias,"
  • Apr 20 Paper #1 Due Apr 20, 11pm How to define a Word [pdf slides] [pptx slides]
    4 Apr 25 - Frames, Conversation, and Food [pdf slides]

    If you want more info: original works mentioned in lecture slides:

    Apr 27 - Metaphor [pdf slides]
    • Lakoff, George and Mark Johnson. 1980. Metaphors We Live By. University of Chicago. Page 1-26, 41-45

    If you want more info: original works mentioned in lecture slides:

    Module 3: Eating High and Low -- Food and Social Class
    5 May 2 Food Review Due Taste and Class [pdf slides]

    If you want more info: original works mentioned in lecture slides:

    May 4 - Eating High and Low: Sushi and Ramen [pdf slides]

    If you want more info: original works mentioned in lecture slides:

    • Shiga Naoya, "The Shopboy's God," (1919) in Rimer, J. T., and Gessel, V. C. (2005). The Columbia Anthology of Modern Japanese Literature, pp. 508-514. New York, N.Y: Columbia University Press.
    • Netflix documentary "Chef's Table," episode on Ivan Orkin
    6 May 9 - How to Read a Menu [pdf slides]
    • Jurafsky, Dan. (2014). The Language of Food. Norton. Chapter 1: How to Read a Menu
    May 11 - Sweetness and Power [pdf slides] [long pptx slides]
    Module 4: Food, Language, and Gender
    7 May 16 Paper #2 Due 11pm Cooking, Gender and Language [pdf slides]
    • Netflix documentary "Chef's Table," episode on Niki Nakayama

      If you want more info: original works mentioned in lecture slides:

    • Eckert, Penelope and McConnell-Ginet, Sally. (2013). Language and Gender (second edition). Chapter 8: Mapping the world. Cambridge University Press.
    May 18 - Food, Sex, and a Scroll [pdf slides]
    If you want more info: further optional reading
    8 May 23 - Sex, Drugs, and Sushi Rolls [pdf slides]
    • Jurafsky, Dan. (2014). The Language of Food. Norton. Chapter 7: Sex, Drugs, and Sushi Rolls.

    If you want more info: further optional reading

    Module 5: Multiculturalism, Food Migrations, and Identity
    May 25 - Food Migrations [pdf slides]
    • Jurafsky, Dan. (2014). The Language of Food. Norton. Chapter 4: Ketchup, Cocktails, and Pirates
    If you want more info: further optional reading
    9 May 30 - Comfort Food and the "Exotic" [pdf slides]
    June 1 - Socializing Taste
    • Ochs, Elinor, Clotilde Pontecorvo, and Alessandra Fasulo. 1996. Socializing Taste. Ethnos Vol 61:1-2.
    10 Jun 6 - Conclusion
    11 June 9 Final Paper Due [instructions with rubric]

    Course Information

    Assignments and Grading

    Learning Goals

    Students in all Thinking Matters courses will: Course-specific Goals: After THINK 53, students will be able to:

    Honor Code

    Violating the Honor Code is a serious offense, even when the violation is unintentional. The Honor Code is available at: Students are responsible for understanding the University rules regarding academic integrity. In brief, conduct prohibited by the Honor Code includes all forms of academic dishonesty, among them copying from another's exam, unpermitted collaboration and representing as one's own work the work of another. If students have any questions about these matters, they should contact their post-doctoral fellow.

    Provost's Statement concerning Students with Disabilities

    Students who have a disability which may necessitate an academic accommodation or the use of auxiliary aids and services in a class must initiate the request with the Office of Accessible Education's Disability Resource Center (DRC). The DRC will evaluate the request with required documentation, recommend appropriate accommodations, and prepare a verification letter dated in the current academic term in which the request is being made. Please contact the DRC as soon as possible; timely notice is needed to arrange for appropriate accommodations (phone 723-1066; TDD 725-1067).

    Evaluation in Thinking Matters Courses

    Thinking Matters assignments challenge students to ask authentic and rigorous questions that will guide their exploration of a topic. Students apply their questions to a critical analysis of material using approaches appropriate to the scholarly methods modeled in the course -- such as close reading of a literary text or film; consideration of context or history; assessment of ethical or scientific models; and accurate measurement of observable data.

    Upon completion of this exploration (reading, assessment, measurement etc.), students develop a claim about the topic, connected to the course material and relevant to their guiding questions, in order to articulate a critical perspective in a logical and sustained argument.

    Evidence drawn from the analysis is organized to support the claim and to persuade the reader of the validity of the argument.

    Students' communication of the questions, the claim, the argument and the evidence cohere in a presentation that conveys the extent to which critical thinking skills have been learned through the assignment.

    Evaluation of student work is tied to achievement of standards articulated for each of the four dimensions of the assignment:

    Section Participation: Thinking Matters courses encourage vigorous intellectual exchange, the expression of various viewpoints, and the ability to speak effectively and cogently. Participation includes but is not limited to in-class discussion. As part of the participation grade, fellows may assign activities and written assignments such as individual or group presentations, on-line forum entries, reading responses, lecture summaries, problem sets, debates, etc.

    Participation will be evaluated on the following guidelines, which stress the quality rather than the quantity of contributions.

    A range: The student is fully engaged and highly motivated. This student is well prepared, having studied the assigned material, and having thought carefully about the materials' relation to issues raised in lecture and section. This student's ideas and questions are substantive (either constructive or critical); they stimulate class discussions. This student listens and responds respectfully to the contributions of other students.

    B range: The student participates consistently in discussion. This student comes to section well-prepared and contributes regularly by sharing thoughts and questions that show insight and a familiarity with the material. This student refers to the materials discussed in lecture and shows interest in other students' contributions.

    C range: The student meets the basic requirements of section participation. This student is usually prepared and participates once in a while but not regularly. This student's contributions relate to the texts and the lectures and offer a few insightful ideas but do not help to build a coherent and productive discussion.

    Failure to fulfill satisfactorily the criteria for participation will result in a grade of "D" or below.

    Other Logistics

    We use the mailing list generated by Axess to convey messages to the class. We will assume that all students read these messages.