Monday, May 29, 2006

Great Moments in Culinary Linguistics

The delightful Language Log website has two amusing posts (here and here) analyzing the grammatical, linguistic, and culinary characteristics of a difficult-to-read item on the menu at a restaurant called EVOO (a mysterious name that every fan of Rachel Ray will be able to interpret with ease). The menu item is:

Garlicky Pork Sausage Stuffed Crisp Fried Maryland Soft Shell Crab

The linguist authors of the diary, Geoffrey K. Pullum and Roger Shuy, labor manfully to develop a theoretical schema for menu descriptions, and the one Shuy comes up with just barely manages to justify the weird syntax of the quoted item. It's an interesting exercise, but I think that, in the end, this is one of those instances in which grammatical correctness is less important than somehow cramming in the words needed to convey an implicit, underlying message, to wit:

If you're on a diet or have a sensitive stomach, don't order this--it'll kill you. Otherwise, go for it.

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