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Mincing Words: A Diachronic View on English Cutting Verbs
Ville Marttila
104-122 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


This study charts the various verbs used to describe cutting operations in culinary recipes from the late Middle Ages to the 19th century, using a corpus-based approach, presenting a general diachronic overview of cutting verbs and tentatively examining changes in their popularity, semantic field, and context. The initial hypothesis examined in the light of the evidence is that at some point between the 15th and the 19th centuries, technical verbs with very specific meanings were gradually replaced by structures consisting of semantically generic verbs complemented with adverbial and nominal phrases. For the purposes of the analysis, cutting verbs are divided into categories based firstly on the type of cutting operation they describe and secondly on their semantic specificity. In addition to locating and examining individual cutting terms whose use undergoes significant diachronic change, these categories are used to examine the larger trends in the types of verb used for describing various types of cutting operations.

Published in

Selected Proceedings of the 2008 Symposium on New Approaches in English Historical Lexis (HEL-LEX 2)
edited by R. W. McConchie, Alpo Honkapohja, and Jukka Tyrkkö
Table of contents
Printed edition: $220.00