Phraseology by MikeJenny

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• 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
• 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
• 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
• 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
• 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
• 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
• phraseological unities (фразеологические
• 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
• 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.,
+ 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
• 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
• are emotionally coloured and
           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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