Dinner is ready! Studying the dynamics and semiotics of dinner

Yair Neuman, Norbert Marwan, Daniel M. Unger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Dinner, as the main meal in the West, is a symbolically laden practice. In this paper, we seek to better understand the cultural meaning of dinner by using a unique combination of a sophisticated quantitative methodology for studying non-linear dynamics and a careful interpretative cultural semiotic analysis. By using the Corpus of Historical American English, we retrieved the words significantly collocated with "Dinner" along 200 years. Using joint recurrence analysis, we have identified the words that synchronize with each other in a non-linear fashion and used them for constructing a representation of Dinner's semiotic field. By analyzing the graph, it was found that "Soup" is the main concept associated with the practice of Dinner along 200 years. The meaning of this finding is interpreted by proposing a semiotic explanation pointing to the "surplus" of soup in the semio-sphere of the Western culture.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)555-569
Number of pages15
Issue number202
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2014


  • Culture
  • Dinner
  • Dynamical systems
  • Food
  • Interdisciplinary research
  • Semiotics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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