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Culinary verbs in Middle English

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Magdalena Bator

This study examines the range of culinary verbs found in the English culinary recipes of the 14 th and 15 th centuries. Altogether over 1500 recipes have been collected and over 100 verbs were selected for the research. They have been divided into three major semantic groups, i.e. verbs of cooking, cutting, and preparing. The analysis comprises such aspects as the origin of the verbs, rivalry of synonyms, context of usage and other criteria.
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Chapter Three: Verbs of cutting

Extract

In the Boke of Keruynge (signed by Wynkyn de Worde) from 1508, its author gives a list of verbs of cutting together with the foodstuff they referred to. Even though the quote below comes from the beginning of the 16th c., i.e., the period shortly later than the analyzed material, it nicely presents the great variety of verbs belonging to the semantic field under investigation. It should be borne in mind that the verbs must have been present in the language earlier than the date of the composition of the Boke, thus, they must have been used at least in spoken form in the period analyzed.

(Boke of Keruynge: ‘Termes of a keruer’) ← 67 | 68 →

So far, ‘verbs of cutting’ have been analyzed diachronically in a short article by Marttila (2009) and synchronically in the Present Day English in a more general work on verbs by Levin (1993). The former based his study on a small sample of recipes from the late 14th to the 19th c. He divided verbs of cutting into nine categories: (i) dividing and specific; (ii) dividing and general; (iii) dividing and generic; (iv) removing and specific; (v) removing and general; (vi) removing and generic; (vii) penetrating and specific; (viii) penetrating and general; and (ix) penetrating and generic. For the examples of verbs belonging to each category, see Table 1 below.

Table 1:  Subdivision of the cutting verbs (Marttila 2009: 109).

In the period analyzed in the present...

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