“Eat Your Words:” The Language of Food
This course explores the intriguing intersection of language with food and demonstrates how much we can learn about language and about culture by studying the “language of food.” In this course, we will examine the frequent use of food metaphors and food idioms in our speech, the curious existence of different words for the same food (hoagie, sub, or hero), the unusual language patterns of recipes, the way menus are structured, the semantic organization of cooking terms, and what food labeling reveals. We will discuss the language of social practices related to food and eating (e.g., saying grace, making toasts, sharing recipes, and instructing our children not to talk “with their mouths full”). And we will observe the ways people talk about food, how people use food to talk about themselves and others, and how “food talk” conveys a range of social and cultural meanings. Our discussion is sure to provide food for thought.
Alice F. Freed (Professor Emerita of Linguistics, Montclair State) received her Ph.D. in Linguistics from the Univ. of Pennsylvania. She has taught at the Fromm Institute since 2016 specializing in Sociolinguistics, Discourse Analysis, and the Structure of American English. Her research focuses on language and gender, question use in English, institutional discourse (“talk at work”), and the language of food. At Montclair State she taught both Linguistics and Women’s Studies. She has also taught courses as a visiting professor at the University of New Mexico, at New York University, and as part of Montclair’s Global Education Program at Beijing Jiaotong University (2010, 2011), at Shanghai University (2013), and at Graz University of Technology (2014). Her books include The Semantics of English Aspectual Complementation (Reidel 1979), Rethinking Language and Gender Research: Theory and Practice (Longman 1996) and “Why Do You Ask?”: The Function of Questions in Institutional Discourse (Oxford University Press, 2010) co-edited with Susan Ehrlich. She has published numerous chapters in linguistics collections and her articles appear in peer-reviewed journals.