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Culinary verbs in Middle English


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 Five: Verbs of Preparing


The present chapter gathers a wide range of verbs which refer to any activities conducted in the process of food preparation other than cooking or cutting. They have been divided into 7 groups, i.e.,

Fig. 1:  Types and tokens (RNFs / 1,000 words) of particular verbal groups (VoC = verbs of cleaning; VoA&C = verbs of adding and combining; VoSt = straining; VoSS = seasoning; VoD = decoration; VoT = taking; VoSv = serving) ← 157 | 158 →

This group contains verbs which refer to the process of removing unwanted elements from foodstuff without the use of a knife (unlike the removing verbs, see section 3.4). Verbs of cleaning may refer either to the removal of the integral parts of the foodstuff (such as hulls) or the external substances (such as dirt). Levin (1993: 122–128) categorized such verbs as a subgroup of ‘verbs of removing’; however, in order to avoid confusion with the verbs discussed under 3.4, which involved the use of a sharp instrument such as a knife, a different label has been adopted.

This group contains only 5 verbs: draw3, fan (out), make clean, wash and winnow out. Table 1 shows their number of occurrence in the 14th and 15th centuries.

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