I’ve been reading through Amy Butler Greenfield’s fascinating A Perfect Red: Empire, Espionage, and the Quest for the Color of Desire (HarperCollins 2005, paperback in 2006), which abounds in great topics: conquest, colonialism, skullduggery, official secrecy, piracy, medieval-style commercial guilds, mysteries of natural history, the growth of science, international trade, cultural diffusion, and more. Officially it’s about dyes, in particular the intense and durable true red dye sought by cultures around much of the world. So of course it turns out to be about cactuses and scale insects. Plenty of linguistic interest in there.
Archive for the ‘Language and food’ Category
In a continuing series, more food with a rainbow theme, this time from the sizable Flickr site Rainbow Sugar, which says:
Anything that is rainbow color and sweet, belongs in this group
(The comma between subject and predicate, marking a breathing point in the sentence (especially with a complex subject), once very common, is now treated as non-standard punctuation, an error.)
(Hat tip to Elizabeth Daingerfield Zwicky.)
Two examples: rainbow cookies and rainbow (jelly) fruit slices (with only part of the rainbow shown here; we need purple and blue at the left end):
Huge numbers of rainbow cakes, of course, ranging from the subtle to the garish.
Just arrived: Dan Jurafsky’s delightful The Language of Food: A Linguist Reads the Menu (Norton, 2014):
I’ll have more to say about the book later; here I’m focusing on chapter 1, “How to Read a Menu”, because it takes up a topic than Ann Zwicky and I wrote on in 1980 (“America’s National Dish: The Style of Restaurant Menus”, in American Speech 55.83-92; available on-line here). A lot has changed in 30+ years.
A comment (of 8/23) by Andy Sleeper on my haloumi posting:
At a hotel in Chicago recently, at the breakfast buffet, they were serving some dish with egg, meat, and cheese, with a little sign saying “Scrambled with chorizo sausage and chihuahua.” [Note that chorizo would have done fine here; chorizo is the name of a type of pork sausage, so that chorizo sausage is an expansion of chorizo -- similar to Brie cheese versus Brie.]
Adjectives with assumed nouns are asking for trouble, it seems to me. From scrambled, I understand eggs, though it could have been brains.
After I inquired, I learned that “chihuahua” refers to a type of cheese I had never heard of. I think “cheese” would have been an important word to include.
First, a note on Chihuahua cheese, then on the “conversion by truncation” in scrambled for scrambled eggs and chihuahua for Chihuahua cheese.
From Tara Narcross-Wyckoff, a supermarket scene:
Two points of linguistic interest here: the noun rub; and the semantics of N + N compounds X rub. (Several observers have speculated on possibly raunchy interpretations of the product name Cowboy Rub. I’ll get to that.)
From my recent posting “Dubious disavowals?”, in a description of the offerings of the Welsh food truck Dirty Bird Fried Chicken:
The menu … features items such as the Dirty Hippy Burger with fried Haloumi, Chilli Slaw, Red Onion, Mayo, Hot Sauce and a pickled cucumber in a toasted brioche bun.
The erratic capitalization is entertaining, but my focus here is on the ingredient haloumi, a kind of cheese.
It originally came to me through Chris Hansen on Facebook, in this remarkable two-part image:
along with this story (by “Happy Gilmore”) from August 12th, reporting:
Welsh Fried Chicken Brand Defends Logo: Food Company defends its controversial new logo after customers complain about its phallic and unusual design reports Walesonline.co.uk
The owner of the Dirty Bird Brand has stated that the logo was just a unique way to change the “B” and the “D” look like a small rooster.
… The food company has also started using posters that state ” Touch My Thigh” and “Touch My Breasts” … Although, Dirty Bird owner Neil Young has backed his statements that these were not meant to be obscene.
Dirty Bird let http://www.metro.co.uk know that the images were in no way meant to upset their customers … They wanted a fun way to portray a rooster. That’s all.
Those in doubt should check out the artists tumblr page – Mark James
Two potato preparations often offered as alternative side dishes for breakfasts in American diners and the like: Would you like hash browns or home fries with that? Both have idiomatic names, names that in fact are easily confused: both are browned by pan-frying, so the words browns and fries have some motivation in their names, while hash and home are simply puzzling.