“There is No Disputing About Tastes”: umami, umamnyi, umamnost’

2022. № 3, 7-18

Olga A. Dimitrieva

Chuvash I. Yakovlev State Pedagogical University (Russia, Cheboksary)



The article is devoted to the study of a word “umami” borrowed from the Japanese language, which is used to denote the taste characteristics of a product or a dish. The author notes that the word “umami” is often accompanied by a historical commentary containing the name of the scientist who discovered the taste, his nationality, the date of its discovery, chemical composition and its general name – the fifth taste. The word “umami” and its derivatives collocate with verbs and adjectives with the semantics of “striving to achieve the most pronounced taste”. When describing the flavors indicated by the word “umami”, a metaphorical transfer may be involved, the source of which is the military, musical and medical spheres.

The grammatical features of the non-declinable noun “umami” are following: most often the noun is used in the masculine gender (in accordance with the generic word “taste”), but there are contexts in which the word is used in the neuter gender as an inanimate non-declinable noun denoting an object. In Russian language the lexeme adapts word-formatively, forming a word-formation series such as umamiumamnyiumamnost’, a predicative adverb umamno (a state category word) is formed from the adjective, as well as some complex words – umami-containing, umami-expressed. The material for the study was collected from “Kommersant Weekend” magazine articles (columns “Food with Elena Chekalova”, “Food with Alexey Zimin” and “Restaurant criticism with Daria Tsivina”); as well as from various sites dedicated to culinary topics.

For citation:

Dimitrieva O. A. “There is No Disputing About Tastes”: umami, umamnyi, umamnost’. Russian Speech = Russkaya Rech’. 2022. No. 3. Pp. 7–18. DOI: 10.31857/S013161170020739-1.