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A fruitful day in Copenhagen

No one likes the term ‘entomophogy’, and perhaps even fewer people know what it means. The title of the journal ‘Insects as food & feed’ is a deliberate move away from it, but even the term ‘edible insect’ is not unproblematic. According to GREEiNSECT researcher Afton Halloran, in many cultures the question ‘Do you eat insects?’ can get a negative response, whereas asking about a particularly species more often yields ‘yes’. Some Kaytetye speakers prefer the word ‘witchetty’ to ‘grub’; coining terms such as ‘whitewood witchetty’ and ‘river red gum witchetty’ as translations of the various edible larvae, a semantic extension also found in Kaytetye.

The pejorative overtones of English ‘grub’ and ‘insect’ reflects a preference in English to use a culinary name for animals as food. Consider ‘meat/animal’, ‘venison/deer’ etc. When the Kangaroo Industry sought a culinary term for skippy, they may have done better had they adopted marlu (Warlpiri) instead of the neologism ‘australus’. For ‘edible insects’ a similarly palatable set of sounds for English speakers might be tjapa (Western Arrarnta).

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