A variationist analysis of modifiers in cooking shows

Hernández, Mariana Hernández (2017) A variationist analysis of modifiers in cooking shows. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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“[A]mong the many symbolic resources available for the cultural production of identity, language is the most flexible and pervasive.” (Bucholtz & Hall, 2003, p. 369) This study explores how food celebrities (re)produce (gender, class, cultural) identities through variant choice. The corpus (3,704 adjectival heads) derives from 20 hours of televised cooking shows from 12 food celebrities from Canada, England, and the USA. The chefs are classified in five gendered culinary personas (male: chef-artisan, gastro-sexual, environmentalist; female: pin-ups and homebodies) following Johnston, Rodney and Chong’s categorization (2014). The two linguistic variables examined are degree modifiers preceding adjectives: intensifiers (really great, pretty sticky), and attenuators (a bit cold, a little different), as well as gradable adjectives (nice, beautiful). I use multivariate analysis to measure linguistic (syntactic position and adjective type) and social (gender, country, and food) correlations, as well as qualitative methods informed by work in the growing field of Food Studies (Ashley, Hollows, Jones & Taylor, 2004; Johnston et al., 2014; Naccarato & LeBesco, 2012, Prescott, 2012). The results indicate that the intensification rates (29 %) and the three most frequently used intensifiers (really, very and so) in televised cooking shows are similar to those found by other studies (e.g., Ito & Tagliamonte, 2003; Tagliamonte, 2008; Tagliamonte & Roberts, 2005). However, different from previous findings, the nice and construction takes the fourth place of frequency, attenuators appear well distributed and with an important role as food and cooking gradators as well as markers of culinary control. The results also reveal that −ly intensifiers mark masculinity among chefs, HEDONIST VALUE adjectives indicate sensual femininity among pin-ups, and really and TASTE adjectives are instruments of adequation (Bucholtz & Hall, 2005) used by gastro-sexuals to assimilate to homebodies. Although the skew towards ‘positivity’ is unmarked and common across languages (Rozin, Berman & Royzman, 2012), the analysis suggests that it may serve a purpose in the construction of cooking shows as ‘fantasies of transformation.’ Finally, this paper exemplifies how sociolinguistic and variationist analysis can help decode social hierarchies and constructs within fields and societies.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/13066
Item ID: 13066
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 109-118).
Keywords: adjectives, degree adverbs, linguistic variation, identity, culinary personas, language and food, language and gender, language and genre, cooking shows
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Linguistics
Date: December 2017
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Celebrity chefs -- Language; Television cooking shows; Sociolinguistics

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