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Technical Texts and Recipes

Mid-Term Test

By

Graham O’Donoghue

(Student Number 552775)

School of Arts and Humanities- Applied Linguistics


Swansea University
2010
Recipe Word List Marie Claire Wordlist

1 . Is there a comparatively frequent use of ‘rare’ lexical words?

Based on the word list results shown above, it can be seen that the article from Marie Claire contains
considerably more function

words than the ‘Recipe’ article. In ‘Marie Claire’ the first 16, most frequent, word types are
functional grammatical words whereas in the ‘Recipe’ text only the first 4 most frequently occurring
words are grammatical function words. Between the 6th and 16th most common words in the recipe
text there occur 6 instances of ‘rare’ lexical words where2 words ‘Until’ and ‘Add’ fall under Key 1
word classification, 3 words ‘Sugar’ ‘Beat’ and ‘Cream’ fall under Key 2 word classification and 1
word ‘Amaretti’ falls under ‘off list’ classification. This shows that the ‘Recipe’ text has a larger
amount of ‘rare’ lexical vocabulary than the extract from ‘Marie Claire.’
TABLE 1 – Noun phrases found in both texts

Marie Claire Concordance Results Recipe Concordance Results


2 noun phrases - modifier UNDERWEAR ‘section’ 2 noun phrases – modifier ‘granulated’ SUGAR

3 nouns phrases – modifier ‘standard’ FOOD 3 noun phrases – article ‘the’ AMARETTI
2 noun phrases – quantifier ‘.oz’ AMARETTI

0 noun phrases - LIFE 0 noun phrases- CHOCOLATE

0 noun phrases - DRUG 4 noun phrases –article ‘the’ PAN


2 noun phrases – modifier ‘High’ COURT 2 noun phrases – modifier ‘heavy’ CREAM
5 noun phrases – modifier CREAM ‘cheese

2. Is there a comparative use of long noun phrases?

Table 1 contains data from first 5 most frequently occurring nouns in both sets of data was analysed
with the concordance tool in Wordsmith. What emerges is that there is no evidence of significant
noun phrases within either text. The nouns, occur within noun phrases in both texts but even so,
those noun phrases only consist of 2 words [in the results above]

60% of noun phrases in ‘Marie Claire’ contain noun phrases but only of

 5 instances of modifier noun phrase

80% of nouns in the ‘Recipe text’ contain noun phrases but only of

 9 instances of a modifier- noun phrase


 7 instances of an article noun phrase
 2 instances of a quantifier-noun phrase

From the results it can be seen that although noun phrases do occur in both texts and even more so
in the ‘Recipe’ text, these noun phrases are only at most 2 words long and very infrequent. It would
be inclined to suggest that on the basis of ‘Recipe’ results containing 80% noun phrases whereas the
results from ‘Marie Claire’ only 60%, that the ‘Recipe’ is slightly more technical because it contains a
greater variety of noun phrases, however the results are not very indicative of a substantial
difference in technicality between the two texts.

3. Is there a high repetition of these noun phrases?

As can be seen in the results from Table 1, there isn’t substantial evidence of noun phrases within
the text. Therefore if there aren’t a high amount of noun phrases found in the text there cannot be
a high repetition however Table 2 below highlights those noun phrases that have been repeated.
The only prevalent repetition is found in the ‘Recipe’ text with ‘Cream Cheese’ however this could be
argued as a collocation in reference to the ingredients list as ‘Cream Cheese’ exists as one
collocational unit and not two separate entities of ‘Cream’ and ’Cheese’
Table 2 – Instances of repetition in both texts

Marie Claire Concordance Results Recipe Concordance Results


2 noun phrases - modifier UNDERWEAR ‘section’ 2 noun phrases – modifier ‘granulated’ SUGAR

3 nouns phrases – modifier ‘standard’ FOOD 3 noun phrases – article ‘the’ AMARETTI
2 noun phrases – quantifier ‘.oz’ AMARETTI

0 noun phrases - LIFE 0 noun phrases- CHOCOLATE

0 noun phrases - DRUG 4 noun phrases –article ‘the’ PAN


2 noun phrases – modifier ‘High’ COURT 2 noun phrases – modifier ‘heavy’ CREAM
5 noun phrases – modifier CREAM ‘cheese

Recipe Word List Marie Claire Wordlist

4. Is there a marked under use of articles in either text?

As can be seen from the frequency lists above, in both lists the most frequent word is ‘THE.’ In Marie
Claire the article ‘THE’ occurs 44 times which equates to 6.39% of the overall text [of 687 words]
whereas in the ‘Recipe’ the article ‘THE’ occurs 55 times which equates to 3.84% of the overall text
[of 1,401 words]
When we look at the second article ‘A’ we can see that in ‘Marie Claire’ it occurs 18 times which
equates to 2.61% of the text [of 687 words] whereas in the ‘Recipe’ it occurs 12 times which equates
to 0.84% of the text [of 1,401 words]
Article - ‘THE’ Percentage of Article -‘A’ Percentage Text Total
Text of Text
Marie Claire 44 6.39% 55 3.84% 687
Recipe 18 2.61% 12 0.84% 1,401

If we add the amounts of articles together and look at the results of frequently occurring articles in
comparison to the whole text length using the following formula:

Article + Article=Total Number [of frequently occurring] articles x 100 / Total [Amount of words in text]

we find that the total amount of articles in ‘Marie Claire’ equates to 9.75% of the overall text length whereas
the total amount of articles in ‘Recipe’ equates to 4.43% with the article representation being particularly low,
even though there are more instances of the word .This is a feature of technical language and this is similar to
the’ Autohall’ text in that a technical piece of writing that gives instructions, does not want ambiguity within
the limited vocabulary so any definate articles of ‘THE’ refer to modified nouns – i.e ‘the melted mixture’ or
preposition phrases i.e the ‘bottom of the oven.’ In contrast ‘Marie Claire’ uses articles to determine new
information i.e ‘the poll by British retail’ or ‘the infants life support’ however from the frequency lists we can
aslso see that in ‘Marie Claire there are instances of other possessive articles such as ‘THEIR’ and determining
articles such as ’THAT’ whereas ‘Recipe’ does not have these. Therefore there is a marked under use of articles
in the ‘Recipe text’ which makes it more technical as no ‘new’ information is being conveyed, the information
is repeated in the context of the instructions being given.

‘Recipe’ – Concordance of article ‘A’

‘Marie Claire’ –
Concordance of article ‘A’

‘Recipe’ – (Sample)

Concordance of article ‘THE’

‘Marie Claire’ –

Concordance of article ‘A’


For the article ‘A’ however a similar pattern can be seen although there are significantly less instances in
‘Recipe’ as it is an indefinite article and not useful in the context of given direct intructions whereas in the
context of a magazine article the indefinite article ‘A’ allows for a more vague sentence structure that is not
directly related to one thing or person i.e ‘In a moving statement’ or ‘you can tell when a man is looking for’

5. Is there a limited range of verbs, particularly imperatives?

Naturally there will be a limited range of verbs within the ‘Recipe’ as the verbs used are instructing one to do
something. There are around 21 limited forms of verbs ranging from ‘beat’ to ‘dissolve’ and ‘wrap’ however
these are imperative as they are all found referring to a subject noun a common feature of technical writing.
On the other hand in ‘Marie Claire’ contains 25 verbs however as this is an excerpt from a magazine article the
verbs are usually passive and past tense verbs. On this basis the ‘Recipe’ is more technical as it is instructing to
do something rather than reporting previous events.

Marie Claire Word List – Verbs highlighted


Recipe Word List – Verbs Highlighted
6. Is there a disproportionate amount of infrequent vocabulary ?

Marie Claire VocabProfile Results Recipe VocabProfile Results

From the results we can see that as far as comparing 1k and 2k words, ‘Marie Claire’ has the larger
range of these words with 82.20% rather than ‘Recipe’ which has 77.44%, which is to be expected as
this is a magazine articles designed to cater for a broad audience whereas a ‘Recipe’ is only designed
for those making food.
As far as words from the AWL goes, ‘Marie Claire’ contains over double the amount of words[5.64%]
as the ‘Recipe’[2.31%] however the latter contains almost double the amount of ‘off word lists [with
20.25%] than Marie Claire [ which has 12.16%] From this analysis it can be seen that ‘Recipe’ is more
technical as is contains a ‘disproportionate amount of infrequent vocabulary’ than ‘Marie Claire’
does.

Conclusions

From the results gathered and presented in this paper we can see that overall, the Recipe is a
more technical piece of writing than an article from ‘Marie Claire’
It can be concluded that ‘Recipe’ is a more technical piece of writing in that it falls under these
categories in that:
 It has a distinct lack of varying articles ‘usually’ confined to ‘THE’
 It has a tendency to use short noun phrases of different types
 There is no real repetition of noun phrases other that the collocation of ‘cream cheese’
 There is a limited range of verbs, frequently imperative and giving directions to the reader

When we look at the comparative use of rare lexical words, the ‘Recipe’ contains more rare
words in the most frequent word list [7 out of 16] than in Marie Claire [the first 16 most frequent
words are grammatical] (see question 1) When we look at the use of long noun phrases, both
excerpts are similar in the fact that they both have a distinct lack of these. ‘Recipe’ however does
contain short noun phrases of 2 words and of 3 different types, whereas ‘Marie Claire’ contains one
type (see question 2 and 3)
There is a marked difference in the use of articles between the excerpts in that ‘Recipe’ has a much
lower article representation however contains more of the same article ‘THE’ whereas ‘Marie Clause
contains more of the article ‘A’ than ‘Recipe’ (see question 4) In ‘Recipe’ there is a very limited range
of verbs as it is giving directions rather than giving information so in that respect it is more technical
than ‘Marie Claire.’(see question 5) Finally there is a marked disproportionate amount of infrequent
vocabulary especially ‘ off word lists’(see question 6) in Recipe and in Marie Claire which again would
suggest that it is a more technically orientated piece of writing.
For reference(not part of results) - List of keywords for both excerpts

KEY WORDS – MARIE CLAIRE KEYWORDS - RECIPE