The hidden speech of the menu

  •  September 23, 2020


The hidden speech of the menu

We can read a menu in two or three languages. But not everyone can decipher the message behind the words. It takes something more to understand the language of foods that menus hide.

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There is an implicit meaning in everything we say. Those who are aware of this can use vocabulary and images to tell a story behind the story. As restaurant owners do, through their menus.


Dan Jurafsky, Stanford University professor and linguist, The Language of Food, is dedicated to revealing the truth behind the words we read in menus.

In analyzing menus from 6,500 online restaurants, Professor Jurafsky came to some conclusions.

Among them is that popular restaurants have more dishes and describe them with more words than superior establishments. The latter cite the origin of their ingredients 15 times more than cheap restaurants. And they use longer words, with a curious correlation: with each extra letter in the words describing a plate, the price increases by 18%.


Another finding is that cheaper establishments reveal a certain insecurity by surrounding themselves with adjectives such as “delicious”, “tasty” and “fresh”. But, as Jurafsky points out, when a restaurant emphasizes on its menu that food is fresh, what does it mean? After all, nobody expects anything else.

That is, it is possible to predict the value of the account, and perhaps as we will feel later, just by counting the letters of the menu.

The hidden speech of the menu

According to Dan Jurafsky, to eat in a restaurant, you need to read between the lines

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