Fat talk, or self-disparaging talk about the body, is common among US women and increasingly reported for men. Despite its commonality, this unique genre of talk is difficult to access using traditional sociolinguistic methods both because it is brief and because it arises spontaneously in casual conversation. Here we present a new method of data collection accomplished by collaborating with citizen sociolinguists to collect spontaneous fat talk in public spaces. We compare fat talk exchanges captured by citizen sociolinguists against those collected in a vignette-based discourse completion task. Our results show redundancy both in how fat talk is initiated and in the manner of the reply across both forms of data collection. However, the citizen sociolinguistic method produced greater variety in fat talk utterances, was less methodologically taxing, and revealed that fat talk occurs differently in same-sex interactions than mixed-sex ones.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Sociolinguistics
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019



  • citizen sociolinguistics
  • fat talk
  • gender
  • methods
  • spontaneous speech

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Philosophy
  • Linguistics and Language
  • History and Philosophy of Science

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