“Food and language have frequently been served up together on the same plate at the anthropological research table.” From this starting point, authors Jillian R. Cavanaugh and Kathleen Riley authored an article with collaborators Alexandra Jaffe, Christine Jourdan, Martha Karrebaek, Amy Paugh to provide a fascinating look at emerging food-and-language studies in, “What Words Bring to the Table: The Linguistic Anthropological Toolkit as Applied to the Study of Food.” This article is the second in a series on methods in linguistic anthropology that appears in the new issue of the Journal of Linguistic Anthropology available now on AnthroSource.
The article emerged from a roundtable at the 2013 AAA Annual Meeting entitled, “Food Talk as Semiotic Substance: Steps toward an Integrated Anthropology of Foodways and Discourse.” The authors identify “intriguing parallels” that link food and language and describe methods they have used in studying food and language simultaneously. Anthropologists interested in methods will particularly appreciate the discussion of “(e)merging food-and-language methodologies.” Punctuated by author reflections and contextualizing narrative, the authors provide unique insights into their use of anthropological methods in studying food and language, including participant-observation, ethnolinguistic analysis, food-oriented interviews, language socialization, collaborative transcription, and semiotic analysis of documents and media. In concluding the authors note their hopes for introducing this line of discussion:
First, broadly speaking, we hope to promote the value of looking across cultural modalities, not only language and food, but also language and a range of other expressive media. Secondly, and more specifically, we are seeking to encourage the application of linguistic anthropological and linguistic ethnographic methods and analytical tools to the study of food in order to open up new and productive terrains and topics (94).