Think 53
Food Talks: The Language of Food

Spring 2016, Tuesday/Thursday 1:30-2:20, 380-380C

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 no office hours week 3 Tue Apr 12)
Liz Carlisle (
(Course Coordinator)
Office Hours: Tuesday, 2:30-3:30pm, Serra Grove, and by appointment
Paul Ganir (
Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures
Office Hours: Friday, 1:30-2:30pm, 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, Thurs 2:30-3:30 and by appointment
Bonnie Krejci (
Department of Linguistics
Office Hours: Thursday, 12:30-1:30pm, Sweet Hall 2nd Floor, and by appointment
Gabe Rodriguez (
Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures
Office Hours: Wednesday, 2:00-3:00pm, Sweet Hall 2nd Floor, and by appointment

Section Times

Tue/Thurs 4:30-5:20 - Bonnie Krejci      Wed/Fri 10:30-11:20 - Liz Carlisle Wed/Fri 11:30-12:20 - Gabe Rodriguez
Wed/Fri 9:30-10:20 - Liz Carlisle       Wed/Fri 10:30:11:20 - Gabe Rodriguez       Wed/Fri 11:30-12:20 - Paul Ganir

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 Mar 29 - Introduction to the course
Mar 31 Language and Thought [slides]
2 Apr 5 Language and Culture [slides]
Apr 7 Sound Symbolism and Synesthesia [slides pdf] [slides pptx]
  • Plato. Cratylus
  • 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.
Module 2: Metaphor and Magic in Language
3 Apr 12 - The Magic of Food Names and the Ideophone [slides]
Apr 14 Paper #1 Due Apr 15, 11pm How to define a Word [slides]
4 Apr 19 - Metaphor [slides]
  • Lakoff, George and Mark Johnson. 1980. Metaphors We Live By. University of Chicago. Page 1-26, 41-45
Apr 21 - Frames, Conversation, and Food [slides]
Module 3: Eating High and Low -- Food and Social Class
5 Apr 26 - How to Read a Menu [slides]
  • Jurafsky, Dan. (2014). The Language of Food. Norton. Chapter 1: How to Read a Menu
Apr 28 - Taste and Class [slides]
6 May 3 - Eating High and Low: Sushi and Ramen [slides]
  • Fukutomi, S., "Rāmen Connoisseurs: Class, Gender, and the Internet," in Rath, E. C., and Assmann, S. (2010). Japanese Foodways, Past and Present, pp. 257-274. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
  • 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.
May 5 - Sweetness and Power [slides]
Module 4: Food, Language, and Gender
7 May 10 Paper #2 Due 11pm Introduction to Language and Gender [slides]
  • Eckert, Penelope and McConnell-Ginet, Sally. (2013). Language and Gender (second edition). Chapter 8: Mapping the world. Cambridge University Press.
May 12 - Food and Gender [slides] If you want more info: further optional reading
8 May 17 - Sex, Drugs, and Sushi Rolls [slides]
  • Jurafsky, Dan. (2014). The Language of Food. Norton. Chapter 7: Sex, Drugs, and Sushi Rolls.
  • 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
May 19 - Food Migrations [slides]
Module 5: Multiculturalism, Food Migrations, and Identity
9 May 24 - No class today.
May 26 - Comfort Food and the "Exotic" [slides]
10 May 31 - Socializing Taste [slides]
  • Ochs, Elinor, Clotilde Pontecorvo, and Alessandra Fasulo. "Socializing taste." Ethnos 61, no. 1-2 (1996): 7-46.
11 June 6 Final Paper Due, 11:00pm [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.