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Menu descriptions an exotic language of their own | San Jose Mercury News

File: Oakland residents Chris Castro, left, and Samantha Silver check the menu at Desco restaurant in the Old Oakland neighborhood of Oakland, Calif., Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013. (D. ROSS CAMERON)

“The more expensive the restaurant, the longer the words on the menu, on average,” said Jurafsky, presenting his research Sunday in San Jose at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Jose. Restaurants may be marketing their erudite staff — or targeting educated customers.

For every extra letter in the average word on a menu, Jurafsky found, the dish cost 18 cents more. Phrases like “exotic” and “spices” also boost the price of a dish, perhaps attempting to appeal to more affluent and adventure-seeking diners.

Choice also tells you a thing or two about the price. Menus at cheap restaurants favor personalized words like “You,” “Diner’s Choice,” and “Have It Your Way.” Pricey restaurants shift their menus’ focus to the chefs, with “Chef’s Special” or “Chef’s Selection.”

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Menu descriptions an exotic language of their own.