Department of English and American Studies

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Masaryk University

Faculty of Arts

Department of English
and American Studies

English Language and Literature

Patrick Schmitt

The Language of Cooking Instructions

Bachelor’s Diploma Thesis

Supervisor: PhDr. Jitka Vlčková, Ph.D.


I declare that I have worked on this thesis independently,
using only the primary and secondary sources listed in the bibliography.


Author’s signature


I would like to thank my dearest friends Radka Koprdová and Soňa Záňová who were there for me in all the times when I was sick or in need of moral support, not only in this tough last semester, but throughout the whole of my studies. I would also like to thank Dana Kutálová and Hana Šmajstrlová for the positive distraction and cohesion as well as Petr Hanslík for innumerable times when he sticked by me when things got tense. This thesis is a result of all the positive energy they gave me.

Last but not least I would like to say thank you to my supervisor, namely PhDr. Jitka Vlčková Ph.D., for her seminar of stylistics which inspired me to write on this topic in the first place and for the enthusiasm she showed when we agreed on this topic, while I had still been unsure.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction 8

2. Survey of Existing Literature 9

3. The Concepts of Cookbooks and Recipes 10

3.1 Definitions 11

3.2 The Dynamics of Recipes and Language - Past and Present 13

4. Recipes as Means of Communication 17

4.1 Encoding/Decoding 18

4.2 Languages as Different Codes and the Impossibility of Translation 19

4.3 Hypothesis 20

5. Methodology 20

5.1 Choice of Primary Sources 21

5.2 Data Processing 22

5.2.1 Optical Character Recognition 22

5.2.2 Choice of Excerpts 23

5.2.3 Revision of Digitalized Materials 23

5.2.4 Corpora 24

5.2.5 Word Frequency 24 Text Analysis Software 26 Tables and Further Calculations 26

5.3 Criteria of Analysis and Interpretation 27

5.4 Limitations and Problem Areas of the Method 28

5.4.1 Limits 28

5.4.2 Error Probabilities 29

5.4.3 Technical Deficiencies 29

5.5 Summary 30

6. Communicative Situation, Results and Interpretation 30

6.1 Communicative Situation 31

6.2 Results of Quantitative Research 35

6.3 Contrasting Lexical Levels 37

6.3.1 Nouns 37

6.3.2 Verbs 39

6.3.3 Adjectives 43

6.3.4 Loanwords 45

6.3.5 Numbers and Abbreviations 46

6.4 Grammar 47

6.5 Discourse Organization 50

6.6 Summary 51

7. Evaluation of the Hypotheses and Concluding Word 52

Bibliography 54

Summary 56

Resumé 57

Appendix 1 - Corpus of Czech recipes 58

Appendix 2 - Corpus of a Czech Translation 73

1. Introduction

The classic flambéed Crêpe Suzette from the world famous Monégasque Café de Paris, the exquisite Apple caviar by chef Ferrán Adriá of the Michelin 3-star restaurant El Bulli, at Catalonia’s Costa Brava or the Matsuba Crab Extravagant Hot Pot from the Nihonryori Ryugin in Tokio, Japan, the world’s greatest agglomeration of Michelin stars, are just a few names of dishes which are well-known among gourmets regardless of where they come from. We live in times of growing wealth and in times where people are ready to keep saving up money to spend on just one evening dining at a place that would fulfill their culinary dreams. Reality shows on television display some of the finest cooks giving insights into the world of professional gastronomy and the times when kitchens were built hardly bigger than 20 ft2 are over.

Nowadays consumers do not have to visit a farm in order be able to choose free-range eggs over those from caged systems. Supermarkets offer a variety of organic food and specialized stores meet the demands exceeding that range of goods. The growing awareness of and interest in what ends up on our plates, where it comes from and which effects it has on our health is being reflected in many aspects of life, such as compulsory information on nutritional values on the packing, the possibility to get a professional balanced diet plan or the fast development of steam ovens and other built-in kitchen appliances for a gentle food preparation.

All these aspects, the growing wealth, the interest in the food production process and in healthy living as well as new concepts and solutions for the preparation of food at home boost the interest in cooking in general, also the media help to overcome the suppressed temptation of having one of the world’s finest dishes, since both the television and literature supply the masses with the requisite recipes to prepare them in the comfort of the own four walls. Cookbooks written by prominent TV cooks literally congest the market.

Linguistics, however, seem to only just have started to get interested in the field of cooking and cooking instructions. This thesis is an attempt to push research concerning this topic a little further by contrasting the registers of cooking instructions of two different languages.

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