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Phraseology • Phraseology is a branch of linguistics which studies different types of set expressions. • Set expressions are non-motivated or partially motivated word groups that cannot be freely made up in speech, but are reproduced as ready-made units. • e.g. to carry coals to New Castle; a white elephant, to have one’s heart in one’s boots; to build castles in the air, etc. Controversial problems in the field of phraseology • Terminology: set-expressions, phraseological units (V. V. Vinogradov), idioms (western scholars), fixed expressions, stable expressions, etc. • Distinguishing between phraseological units and free word groups Structural criterion The structural invariability of phraseological units: • no (or rather limited) substitutions of components: E.g. to carry coals to Manchester - Cf. The cargo ship is carrying coal to Manchester. • restrictions on the componential extension of phraseological units: E.g. the big white elephant; he is having his heart in his brown (or black) boots. – Cf. I saw a big white elephant in the zoo. • grammatical invariability: e.g. from head to feet. • e.g. She built for herself the most magnificent castle in the air of which she was the mistress. Semantic criterion The meaning in phraseological units: • is created by mutual interaction of elements • conveys a single concept • the actual meaning is transferred and opposed to the literal meaning of a word-combination from which it is derived. • Phraseological units possess semantic unity. E.g. to have a bee in one’s bonnet (‘to have an obsession about something, to be eccentric or even a little mad’). • The degree of transference may vary: E.g. to skate on thin ice (‘to take risks’); the small hours (‘the early hours in the morning’). Semantic criterion The meaning in a word-group: • is based on the combined meaning of the words constituting its structure. • Each element has a much greater semantic independence and stands for a separate concept, e.g. to cut bread, to cut cheese, to eat bread, etc. • The semantic unity makes phraseological units similar to words. Classification of phraseological units according to their origin • native • borrowed The main sources of native phraseological units • Terminological and professional lexics, e.g. navigation: cut the painter; military sphere: fall into line; agriculture: to put the plough before the oxen, etc. • British literature, e.g. the green-eyed monster (W. Shakespeare); fall on evil days (J. Milton); a sight for sore eyes (J. Swift), etc. • British traditions and customs, e.g. baker’s dozen • Etc. The main sources of borrowed phraseological units • The Holy Script, e.g. the kiss of Judas; the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing. • Ancient legends and myths belonging to different religious or cultural traditions, e.g. to cut the Gordian knot. • Facts of the world history, e.g. to meet one’s Waterloo • Etc. Functional classification • Nominal (noun equivalents): small talk, red tape, dog’s life, birds of a feather; • Verbal (verb equivalents): put one’s best foot forward, to take the bull by the horns, to beat about the bush, to be in the same boat; • Adjectival (adjective equivalents): safe and sound, high and mighty, spick and span, as good as gold, as nervous as a cat, as drunk as an owl; • Adverbial (adverb equivalents): tooth and nail (e. g. to fight tooth and nail), by heart, once in a blue moon, by hook or by crook, without a hitch; • Interjectional (functioning like interjections): my God! goodness gracious! Good Heavens! Semantic classification (V. V. Vinogradov) • phraseological fusions (фразеологические сращения), • phraseological unities (фразеологические единства), • phraseological combinations (фразеологические сочетания). Semantic classification (V. V. Vinogradov) • Phraseological fusions: the meaning is completely non-motivated at the present stage of language development. E.g. red tape, a mare’s nest, as mad as a hatter, to show the white feather, etc. The meaning of the components is completely absorbed by the meaning of the whole; • Phraseological unities are partially motivated, e.g. to stick to one’s guns (‘to refuse to change one’s opinion’); to wash one’s dirty linen in public, to clutch at a straw, to show one’s teeth. Semantic classification (V. V. Vinogradov) • Phraseological combinations are motivated + one component is used in its direct meaning, while the other is used metaphorically, e.g. to meet the requirements, to attain success, to break one’s promise, to fall in love with smb., etc. + Some substitutions are possible, e.g. to meet the needs, to meet the demand, to meet the necessity; to have success, to lose success. Proverbs, sayings, familiar quotations • Communicative phraseological units (A.V. Koonin) • A proverb is a sentence that has been disseminated forth, and states a general truth or gives advice: e.g. Idleness is the root of all evil. A penny saved is a penny earned. The pen is mightier than the sword. • A saying is any common, colloquial expression, or a remark often made, e.g. That cat won’t jump. Woe betide you! What will Mrs. Grundy say? Back to the ol’ grind stone. Proverbs and sayings • are introduced in speech ready-made, • their components are constant, • their meaning is traditional and mostly figurative. • often form the basis for phraseological units: It is the last straw that breaks the camel’s back => the last straw; there is no use crying over spilt milk => cry over spilt milk. • are emotionally coloured and metaphorical. Familiar quotations • come from literature: E.g.: Few things are harder to put up with than a good example (M. Twain). If a thing is worth doing it’s worth doing (Chesterfield). Eat to live, not live to eat (Socrates). A good name is better than precious ointment (Old Testament). Brevity is the soul of wit. Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. The time is out of joint. To be or not to be: that is the question (Shakespeare).
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