STANFORD LINGUIST 62n   -     Winter 2012
Final Project Ideas
Pgraph on your idea is due: Noon Tuesday Feb 21

Here are some ideas for final projects; treat these as a springboard, you don't have to do exactly any of these. First are just a couple of the projects that people did in past years:

  1. How does the advertising language differ between cheap and expensive potato chips?
  2. The Chinese concepts of Heating and Cooling Foods
  3. Foreign languages and pretentiousness in restaurant menus.
  4. Vocabulary for sizes in food and drink: big, small, venti
  5. The effect of grammatical gender on describing food
  6. The effect of grammatical gender on the perception of taste
  7. How is the gender identity of male and female cooks projected through their verbal attitude toward their work?
  8. How menus influence consumer expectation for different kinds of restaurants: Italian versus Vietnamese
  9. A replication of the frish-frosh experiment but with real ice cream
  10. Linguistic strategies of Food Network celebrity chefs
  11. How Chocolate Packaging Affects the Perception of Taste
  12. The influence of guilt-related language in food advertising on consumer guilt
  13. Gender similarities and differences in food nicknames
And some other ideas:
  1. Do a detailed semantic study of some cooking verbs in English (for example, continue where we left off with bake versus roast).
  2. Do a detailed semantic study of cooking or eating words in some foreign language.
  3. Do a chocolate tasting and test to see if your subjects use similar or differnt words, and what dimensions they agree or disagree on. Are some dimensions easier than others? Are there more words for some aspects of taste/smell than for others? See if they improve in their accuracy over time.
  4. How does recipe language differ across two languages that you know. Are there similarities in words, grammar, structure? Differences?
  5. Do a sociolinguistic study on menu language. You could compare menus in two different languages (how do Korean menus differ from French menus? Or you could compare two different types of food. Look at grammar, word choice, structure, assumptions about the reader. You would need to do some quantitative studies, (i.e., count things), not just mention a few exmples.
  6. Trace the etymology of an interesting food word by studying the history of the food itself, where the name came from, etc. You'd have to pick something that would require some actual researhc, not something so easy that you could just look it up in the dictionary.
  7. Do a survey study of different American regional dialect words for food (like the supper/dinner or pop/soda/coke differences that we'll be talking about in class). Get people from different regional backgrounds or dialects of English to participate in your survey.
  8. Look at food blogs. Discuss word use, or grammatical structures, assumptions about the reader, and so on.
  9. Write a paper on the semantics of a food word in some other language that doesn't translate well into English (like the Q article in Gastronomica). It's got to be something that really gets at some issues, not just the name of a food we don't have.
  10. Create a psychological experiment (i.e., describe the methods, give all the materials, and describe the exact design) to test some hypothesis about Whorf and food. (i.e. does speaking a certain language cause you to perceive tastes or flavours in a particular way).
  11. Do a metaphorical analysis of food, eating, and cooking metaphors, starting where Lakoff and Hines left off. (Or compare and contrast the metaphors in two different languages).
  12. Study the differences between two languages in mealtime language or customs ("bon appetit" words, toasts, table manners).
  13. Do a structural analysis of a cuisine (for example, compare and constrast the structure of a typical Korean meal with an American one).
  14. Test the Johnson/Pison/Benacki hypotheses about drunken speech (on some people who can legally drink of course).