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Talking with your mouth full : gustatory mmms and the embodiment of pleasure

Wiggins, Sally (2002) Talking with your mouth full : gustatory mmms and the embodiment of pleasure. Research on Language and Social Interaction, 35 (3). pp. 311-336. ISSN 0835-1813

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Abstract

This article examines the expression of gustatory pleasure as an interactional and discursive construction. Psychological studies of food and eating typically focus on the individual consumer, with bodily experiences conceptualized as internal and private events. It is argued that this approach underestimates the role of discourse and the interactional nature of food consumption. The expression of pleasure is examined here as a constructed and evaluative activity, using conversational examples from family and adult group mealtimes. The 'gustatory mmm' expression is used as a focus for this analysis. Intonation and sequential features of mmm are seen as essential to the construction of pleasure as an immediate and spontaneous, but descriptively vague experience. The gustatory mmm also expresses a particularly embodied sense of pleasure. This study therefore contributes to research on 3 levels. First, it extends work on eating practices to incorporate the interactional, conversational domain. Second, it engages with the debate surrounding embodiment and discursive psychology, and extends work in the latter domain to more naturalistic materials. Third, it contributes to the growing body of conversation analytic work on mmms and response tokens.