Recipes and word order

Geoffrey Steven Nathan geoffnathan at WAYNE.EDU
Fri Jun 21 21:05:56 UTC 2013

I think these are cases of what used to be called Object Deletion. There was a famous article in the Generative Semantics days about instructions on medicines (the subtitle was something like 'Horrors you can find in your medicine cabinet). It dealt with things like 'Shake well before using'.
These cases seem to be phrasal verbs with missing objects, but the result is that they turn into something that's almost a 'garden path' sentence, as you note.
Of course understanding why these happened doesn't make them clearer to the average, non-linguistically-trained cook...


Geoffrey S. Nathan
Faculty Liaison, C&IT
and Professor, Linguistics Program
+1 (313) 577-1259 (C&IT)

Nobody at Wayne State will EVER ask you for your password. Never send it to anyone in an email, no matter how authentic the email looks.

----- Original Message -----

> From: "Jim Parish" <jparish at SIUE.EDU>
> Sent: Friday, June 21, 2013 2:18:05 PM
> Subject: Recipes and word order

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster: Jim Parish <jparish at SIUE.EDU>
> Subject: Recipes and word order
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------

> Recently, while exchanging recipes with a friend, I noticed something
> which struck me as odd. I'm generally used to the rhetorical
> conventions
> of recipes, but this recipe featured a word-order choice that I don't
> recall seeing before. [I'm aware that that doesn't mean it's not
> common.] Two sentences stood out. First, after prescribing a certain
> combination of ingredients, the recipe continued:

> "Stir well to mix and pour over the [chicken] stock."

> At the end of the recipe were the words

> "Transfer to a serving dish, sprinkle over the Parmesan and serve."

> In both sentences, my first impulse is to assume a tacit "it" just
> before "over", but clearly it is the stock or Parmesan which is to be
> poured/sprinkled over the (likewise tacit) object of the first
> clause. I
> don't recall seeing that construction outside of recipes, or even
> *in*
> recipes.

> Any thoughts?

> Jim Parish

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