Myfany Turpin: Virtual Seminar on 'Grub's Up

Myfany Turpin: Virtual Seminar on 'Grub's Up

Grub's up! 

Grub? Food? Yes, think specifically of insect larvae.

Myfany Turpin of the University of Sydney will speak on "Grub's Up! The Category of Edible Insect Larvae in Central Australian Aboriginal Languages" at the UC Davis Entomology and Nematology's virtual seminar at 4:10 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 7.

This is the first of a series of fall seminars hosted by the department and coordinated by Ian Grettenberger, Cooperative Extension specialist and assistant professor.

"Dr. Turpin is a linguist and musicologist that has worked on the use of insects as aboriginal food sources," Grettenberger said.

In an article on "Edible Insect Larvae in Kaytetye: Their Nomenclature and Significance," published in March 2017 in the Journal of Ethnobiology,  she wrote: "Insects have traditionally constituted an important source of food in many cultures, but changes in dietary practices and other lifestyle traits are threatening the transmission of insect-related knowledge and vocabulary to younger generations of Indigenous Australians. This paper describes the rich cultural and culinary traditions surrounding an important insect group, namely a class of edible insect larvae consumed by a desert community in central Australia. Twenty-nine different edible insect larvae are named in the Kaytetye language, with the names encoding the identity of the host plant on which the larvae are found. We describe the complexities involved in the naming system, paying special attention to cultural and linguistic factors. The difficulties in the scientific identification of these ethnotaxa are discussed, as are the significance of our data to (1) questions of universal patterns in ethnoclassification and nomenclature and (2) the purported lack of binomially-labeled folk species in the languages of hunter-gatherer societies."

Turpin, with the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, has been working on Australian Aboriginal songs and languages since 1996, according to her website. "Her research interests include the relationship between language and music, especially of lesser-known cultures; and identifying ways to support the continuation of endangered languages and performance arts. More specifically, her work examines Aboriginal song-poetry and its relationship to spoken languages. She is also involved in linguistic documentation of the Aboriginal language Kaytetye as well as Indigenous ecological knowledge and the lexicon in Arandic languages."

Turpin's hosts are evolutionary ecologists and biologists Scott Carroll and Jenella Loye of the Institute for Contemporary Evolution who engage in Carroll-Loye Biological Research. The scientists are affiliated with the Sharon Lawler lab, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. 

Link to form for Zoom link and instructions:

For technical issues, contact Grettenberger at For more information on the seminar speaker, contact Scott Carroll or Jenella Loye at