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Dan Jurafsky


Publications by Dan Jurafsky (bibliography)

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Jurafsky, Dan (2011): Sex, food, and words: the hidden meanings behind everyday language. In: Proceedings of the 2011 ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology 2011. pp. 429-430. http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/2047196.2047252

Language is a subtle and powerful tool for communication. But the words we use also provide a rich mine of information for the social scientist. The history of words like "ketchup", "ceviche", or "dessert" tells us about the relationships between the superpowers who dominated the globe 500 or 1000 years ago. The words on the back of potato chip packages can demonstrate popular attitudes toward social class. And the names we give ice cream flavors may be an evolutionary reflex of the attempt by early mammals to appear larger than their competitors. The language of dating is just as informative as the language of food. In experiments with speed dating, work in our lab shows that we can detect flirtation or other stances in men and women on dates, just by looking at linguistic features like their pitch, their use of negative words like "can't" or "don't", or how often they use hedges like "sort of" or "kind of". The language of these two popular topics of conversation, food and dating, can teach us a lot about history, culture, and psychology.

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