English-Language Gluttonics in the Optics of a Professional World Perception: Linguistic Gastro-Diplomacy Figures in Economics

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29 ноября 2020, 17:03
Актуальные проблемы терминоведения и профессиональной коммуникации
Vorontsova Irina Igorevna
Russian State University for the Humanities
Modeling a professional cultural and linguistic personality infers the perception of language in terms of the metasystem regularities of professional culture. Gastro diplomacy and, accordingly, the signs of "cuisine" are becoming a must-have of professional foreign language education as a new dynamic driver of the economic picture of the world. Food is a sign of a nation identification, a social marker of society and has a magical property of a historical era attribute. Today this is most vividly manifested in the terminological “kitchen” of finance, where figures of speech, originally dating back to the gastronomic communicative space, are freely transposed into economic discourse. The source of formation of new figures of speech quite consistently shifts from the sphere of traditions to the spheres of economy and finance that dominate today. The study of the linguistic metaphorics of gastro-diplomacy in nominating subjects and precedents of economic history expands not only linguistic, but also professional horizons and fosters the professional culture of modern economists.
Ключевые слова:
cultural code, figures of speech, linguistic metaphorics, metasystem regularities, gastrosophia, economic discourse, professional culture of economists, linguistic signs of English-speaking gluttonics
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The efficiency of modern practice of teaching foreign languages in non-linguistic universities is largely due to presenting  linguistic material through the symbiosis of linguistic and cultural paradigms.

The meta-methodic approach in modern scientific theory and practice reflects the strategic focus in teaching and lies at the core of a constructive model of teaching a foreign language. The idea of the meta-methodic approach shows in the name «meta» and proceeds from the following statement: “The educational process must be built… in the logic of formation of an integral image of the world and a person in it” [1].  

The intensive development of multicultural communication processes is aimed at the conscious and purposeful regulation of cultural and linguistic contacts. The cultural and pragmatic function of the language acquires special significance, highlighting socially and personally significant meanings that are developed and acceptable in another culture. The formation of a professional cultural and linguistic personality presupposes the perception of a language as an object that conforms to the meta-system laws of the professional culture which it is inherent in. Cultural and linguistic pragmatics focuses on cultural adaptation in a multicultural society.

Foreign language learners come to contact not only a  new language system, but also the enormous potential of  another culture. The role that food products play at a certain time make it possible to figuratively and vividly mark the relevant historical era. Food is a sign of a nation identification, a social marker of society and it boasts of a magical property of an attribute of a national coordinate system. Nowadays gastrosophia as a whole and gastro-diplomacy in particular refer to national practices within the framework of public diplomacy, pursuing a specific goal — to promote the country's international influence.

Metaphorics of the language of gastro-diplomacy

Contemplating the axiology and linguosemiotics of the gastro-diplomacy discourse and, more broadly, the gastro-economic discourse, brings forward allusions to the 16th century French novel “Gargantua and Pantagruel” by François Rabelais, which Bakhtin traced to carnival novels  [2]. Rabelais… asserts the high importance of food in human life. <...> Here, on the basis of ancient material… the whole philosophy of Gaster (Womb) develops as a driving force of economic and cultural development of mankind. Bakhtin claims that «special contexts» [3, p. 258]  push forward the limits of linguistic freedom. It is this linguistic freedom that gastro-economic discourse inherits.

 The uniqueness of the cultural sphere of various nations can also be traced through the peculiarities of the national cuisine, which reveals the peculiarities of the national food culture, specific ways of cultural self-expression and self-affirmation, though subtly and authentically. The formation of new linguistic figures previously rooted in traditional spheres shifted quite naturally to the spheres of economy and finance that dominate today. Modern economics features the terms that employ the names of dishes from different national cuisines, as a result of internationalizing the  economic terminology. Gastronomic terms based on tropes that use the names of food, kitchen utensils, or cooking procedures can manifest an interesting example of nationally-labeled lexis: macaroni defense (from Italian Maccheroni) — a method of defense against a takeover in which the target company bulks up  the amount of bonds, which, according to the terms of the issue, must be redeemed ahead of schedule at a higher price in case of the company takeover; marzipan layer (from Italian Marzipane) — a form of financial compensation in case of a takeover; salami tactics (where salami is a special type of sausage in Italian and Hungarian cuisines). In 1975, the term salami technique appears in America to denote a computer fraud when small amounts of money are transferred (or cut off in small pieces of sausage) from a large number of customer accounts to the account of a fictitious person.

Obviously, the reason for the appearance of metonymic transferences is the brainwork, which takes into account national and cultural characteristics. Every nation has that distinct culinary code or “food code” that claims identity. “Food code” explains and arranges a complex system of information related to history, geography, agriculture, ethnography, design, semiotics of everyday life and economics. What is the magic of this code? The culinary language is history-oriented. Using the “food code” makes it possible to discover the exuberance of an ethnic group, its historical memory, and admire its rarities. “Food code” is, along with the cultural code, a kind of universal key to a country’s cuisine, everyday life and diversity. This is the most joyful layer of culture for a researcher. It is like a scale of values, topping everything old, favorite, saturated with the scent of time.

Gastronomic chronos in economic discourse

The English-language gastronomic chronos of the ritual component of food intake varies in the qualifiers lunch, dinner, supper and presents itself in composite linguistic gastronomic nominations, placed in the economic context:

Breakfast index — according to the Financial Times, the breakfast index shows the notional value of a morning meal for six commodities — wheat, milk, coffee, orange juice, sugar, and lean pork — and reflects food deflation in a certain year; whilst  bed and breakfast deal is a short-term sale and purchase of shares for tax purposes.

In recent years, many companies — Google, Pixar, Apple, Dropbox, Facebook, Yahoo — have been innovating to provide free meals and food to their employees. The strategic focus of this artful people management is transparent: to create a venue for employees to communicate (cafes, dessert bars, micro-kitchens, small areas near workplaces with food and drinks) and inspire people for group innovative brainwork — they can get into an interesting conversation, at least, and optimally they will come up with an idea that they have not previously thought about. A similar argument is often put in educational settings, such as in Oxbridge colleges, where a free lunch is usually part of the staffing agreement. It is the casual food conversations between teachers of different subjects that can lead to interdisciplinary collaboration. Free lunch is something you get for free, although you usually have to pay or work it off: But it is wrong to think that massive accumulation of debt is a free lunch.

Continuing the theme of lunch can be a three-martini lunch or noontime three-martini (a lunch with three martinis, from the name of the Italian manufacturer of vermouth Martini & Rossi) — a sumptuous midday business lunch with three cocktails-martini at the expense of the company (a term used in the United States to describe a leisurely lunch of businessmen or lawyers with clients or colleagues — three martinis can stretch over 3 hours).

Economic history precedents

“The most diverse phenomena of the world, including the most spiritual and sublime ones, are brought into the immediate vicinity of food”, asserts Bakhtin [4, p. 327].

The study of the linguistic metaphorics of the language of gastro-diplomacy in nominating subjects and precedents of economic history does expand linguistic but also professional horizons and foster the professional culture of modern economists. This terminological study will allow them to form their own vision of the trends and directions of economic thought: goulash communism (a jokey denomination of the Hungarian version of socialism and the command economy of the 1960s-1980s), Tequila crisis (a financial crisis in Mexico in 1994).

Terminological "kitchen" of finance

Euphemistic economic terms are a convenient means of lexical manipulation. During an economic crisis, the expression credit crunch is used instead of the word crisis. Anne Karpf, the author of the article “Economic with actuality”, subtitled 'Credit crunch is just a euphemism for financial crisis' [1],  expressed her disapproval of such euphemisms: “In the financial gloom one piece of news is good: we're not, repeat not, in recession. No, all we’re suffering from is a credit crunch. <…> For recessions are serious, but credit crunch sounds like a cheery breakfast cereal”. Let's clarify that the credit crunch expression (synonymous with credit squeeze) in financial and economic terminology is meant as restriction of credit and essentially denotes a liquidity crisis. The euphemism banana refers to contextual or occasional euphemisms. In 1978, the independent American economist Alfred Kahn (1917–2010) warned of an impending deep depression should inflation not stop. A. Kahn received a serious warning from the administration of President Jimmy Carter for using the word depression followed with a recommendation to avoid such expressions. Subsequently, the criticized A. Kahn excluded the word depression (reminiscent of the years of the Great American Depression of the 1930s) from his vocabulary and began to use the word banana. True, he had to replace this euphemism with the word kumquat because of the discontent of fruit producers. In the wake of the recent global financial crisis, the euphemism banana has become widespread again. In fact, this euphemism means crisis, but to convey the necessary shade into Russian, the word banana may correspond to the contextual meaning of unpleasant situation.

The authors of economic texts seem to taste them, and these tastes are diverse:

Economics is not a science; it's not even a social science. It is a gooey antisocial theory. This is a sticky and corny antisocial theory, writes Susan Moore in Why Do We Take Economists So Serious? [2]

Confectionery at the service of the economics

In describing economic laws, economists freely expropriate sweet products that have become popular brands by transferring the positive taste of sweets to the positive qualities of economic trends — a kind of smorgasbord.

Doughnut economics needs a new flavour.  The “Doughnut Economics” is pandering to ideological sweet-tooth[3] .

How Cupcakes Can Demonstrate A Law Of Economics — Two gourmet cupcake shops opened last spring in downtown Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. It’s an example of an economic phenomenon: Hotelling's law — a tendency for rivaling companies to make their products alike which actually brings competition to  a matter of taste [4].

Translinguistic principle in gastro-economic discourse

Describing a specific functioning of words in different discourses requires a translinguistic approach. Although at first glance, economics and gastronomy have little in common, the English words Economy and Gastronomy are similar not only in phonetic consonance. By giving the economy the properties of a living organism, the metaphorical mentality of a native English speaker recognizes that it has physiological properties. This includes the figure of speech that has come into use since the end of the 16th century:  Your eyes are bigger than your stomach — a hint that someone is taking more food than they can eat: They’re  pondering starting a second desert-bar but it looks like their eyes are bigger than their stomach.


With a certain amount of metaphoricity, it can be argued that food is a window to culture. Gasrosophia — scientific knowledge about food, traditions and a different eating culture — promotes an axiological component of perceiving professional culture and scientific thought and, therefore, boosts the level of tolerance in the polyicultural environment of the scientific community, where cuisine functions as an actor of constructive interlocution  and a tool for promoting diplomacy.

  1. Shchukin A.N. Linguodidactic Encyclopedic Dictionary. M.: Astrel, AST, 2008. 746 p.
  2. Bakhtin M.M. Francois Rabelais in the History of Realism, Materials for the book of Rabelais (1930–1950s). M.: Comments and applications, Languages of Slavic cultures, 1996. 1120 p.
  3. Bakhtin M.M. Aesthetics of verbal creativity. M.: Art, 1986.
  4. Bakhtin M.M. Issues of literature and aesthetics: Studies of different years, M.: Fiction, 1975. 327 p.
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