Semantic classification of proverbs and sayings in english language

Phraseology the branch of theoretical linguistics that studies sustainable turns of phrase and expressions and phraseological units, the aggregate of phraseological units of a language also called his phraseology. Semantic characteristics of proverbs.

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The ministry of higher and secondary special education of the republic of Uzbekistan

The Uzbek state world Languages University

Ii English philology faculty

English lexicology department

Qualification paper

on: Semantic classification of proverbs and sayings in english language

Written by the student of

the 4th course group 419 A

Botirova Komila

Tashkent 2011



1. Chapter one. Proverbs in English language

1.1 Phraseology as a subsystem of language

1.2 Phraseological units and their types

1.3 Proverbs as a phraseological unit

2. Chapter two. Semantic characteristics of proverbs

2.1 Classification of proverbs

2.2 Types of proverbs on meanings motivation

2.3 Proverbs as the way expressing people's wisdom and spirit and literary works


The list of the used literature


In folklore among all the variety and richness of its poetical significance and form it is difficult to find more interesting and researchable genre than proverbs and sayings. It was the subject of deep study of scientists in most different ideological branches. Most of the scientists agreed that the proverbs are folklore speech. Where was not only the person's point of view but also general people's outlook is expressed. Proverbs and sayings play important role in language. They give emotionality, expressiveness to the speech.

They have certain pure linguistic features that must always be taken into account in order to distinguish them from ordinary sentences. Proverbs are brief statements showing uncondensed form of the accumulated life experience of the community and serving as conventional practical symbols for abstract ideas. They are usually didactic and image bearing. Many of them become very polished and there is no extra word in proverbs and sayings. Summarizing above mentioned information the following definition can be given to a proverb: It is a short, meaningful has the rhythmic organization in poetic style - that people had created for centuries in their social and historical life.

The subject of my qualification paper is devoted to the study of lexical-semantic classification of proverbs and sayings in English language.

The object of my research is English proverbs and sayings and its classification phraseology semantic proverb

The aim of the qualification paper is: To give the definition of the phraseological units; To classify proverbs and sayings ; To show the difference of proverbs and sayings;

The following task has been solved in this qualification paper:

1. To deal with the history of the proverbs and analyze them. To show their components or equivalents if they exist in compared languages, and the ways of their translation.

2. To point out the difference between proverbs and sayings.

3. To research the structural type of English proverbs, to differ in the groups of types of proverbs according to their equivalents and synonymic row.

The actuality of the study of the proverbs in Uzbek, English is that the usage of proverbs in speech is very important. The correct usage of these proverbs is also important, while translating any other work of art we should pay close attention to this point, and that is the reason of the study of the theme we have taken under discussion. So express any idea or plot of the work in translation as in original demands a person's high skill and deep knowledge. Translator ought to know the rules of translation, furthermore the history, slang, life, customs and traditions of the people whose language he / she translating into.

The novelty of this qualification paper is that the analysis of the problem of the folk proverbs have been taken under discussion in related and non related languages. Modem and classic writers' works have been used in collecting the examples. The qualification paper also includes the Shakespeareans and other proverbs used by English poets. The aim of the qualification paper is to study the proverbs and to distinguish the cultural features in every language that was taken under discussion. This qualification paper mainly discusses the Uzbek proverbs and their translation into foreign languages.

The theoretical value of the qualification paper is to investigate the structural types of proverbs and sayings in English, to give their equivalents in related and related languages, to analyze and differentiate proverbs and sayings in investigated languages.

The practical value of this paper is that, practical result and all the given examples can be used in practical lessons, writing compositions in colloquial and written speech. This qualification paper also can be useful to other students who are' interested in this field as in this qualification paper there is given the table of the most often used proverbs in English.

The sources of the qualification paper. While investigating the diploma work we have widely used the following literature: ' ' by V. A. Koonin, textbooks on lexicology, on stylistics, scientific literature on phraseology and phraseological units, books on origin and translation of proverbs and sayings in English, A universal proverb definition. Scholars around the world continue to find their own so-called "working definitions," of which some of the most recent attempts in the English language are those by Shirley Arora, Nigel Barley, Otto Blehr, Margaret Bryant, David Cram, Alan Dundes, Galit Hasan-Rokem, George Milner, Peter Seitel, Jan Fredrik Kindstrand "The Greek Concept of Proverbs," Bartlett Jere Whiting, "The Nature of the Proverb." 1932, V.I. Dal dictionary of vivid Russian language, V.L Dai "the proverbs of Russian nation", Benjamin Franklin 'Poor Richard's Almanac', The Advanced Learner's Dictionary by A. Hornby, E. Gatenby, H. Wake-field; The Universal English Dictionary by H. Wild and General Service List of English Words with Semantic Frequencies by M, West, English idioms in: Logan Smith. Words and Idioms. London. We have also had information on internet sites.

The structure of this qualification paper is as follows: introduction, main part, conclusion, the list of used literature.

Introduction, main part, conclusion and the list of used literature.

The introduction is the brief plot of the qualification paper theme, and also it gives us information about the structure of the qualification paper.

The main part consists of two chapters

Chapter one has three paragraphs: phraseology as a subsystem of language, a short information about phraseological units, the proverbs and sayings and their definitions.

Chapter two includes three paragraphs which deal with the problems of the study of the history of the origin of proverbs and sayings, scientists who worked on proverbs and sayings, the semantic classes of proverbs and sayings.

Conclusion deals with the theoretical and practical result of the work.

Bibliography directs us to the list of literatures that have been used in carrying out the work.

1. Chapter i. Proverbs in English language

1.1 Phraseology as a subsystem of language

By phraseology I mean the branch of linguistics dealing with stable word- combinations characterized by certain transference of meaning.

Despite differences of opinion, most authors agree upon some points concerning the distinctive features of phraseological units, such as:

1. Integrity (or transference) of meaning means that none of the idiom components is separately associated with any referents of objective reality, and the meaning of the whole unit cannot be deduced from the meanings of its components;

2. Stability (lexical and grammatical) means that no lexical substitution is possible in an idiom in comparison with free or variable word-combinations (with an exception of some cases when such substitutions are made by the author intentionally). The experiments conducted in the 1990s showed that, the meaning of an idiom is not exactly identical to its literal paraphrase given in the dictionary entry. That is why we may speak about lexical flexibility of many units if they are used in a creative manner. Lexical stability is usually accompanied by grammatical stability which prohibits any grammatical changes;

3. Separability means that the structure of an idiom is not something indivisible, certain modifications are possible within certain boundaries. Here we meet with the so-called lexical and grammatical variants. To illustrate this point I shall give some examples: "as hungry as a wolf (as a hunter)", "as safe as a house (houses)" in English, (, , ) , () , () () () in Russian.

4. Expressivity and emotiveness means that idioms are also characterized by stylistic colouring. In other words, they evoke emotions or add expressiveness.

On the whole phraseological units, even if they present a certain pattern, do not generate new phrases. They are unique.

Interlanguage comparison, the aim of which is the exposure of phraseological conformities, forms the basis of a number of theoretical and applied trends of modern linguistic research, including the theory and practice of phraseography. But the question of determining the factors of interlanguage phraseological conformities as the main concept and the criterion of choosing phraseological equivalents and analogues as the aspect concepts is still at issue.

The analysis of special literature during the last decades shows that the majority of linguists consider the coincidence of semantic structure, grammatical (or syntactical) organization and componential (lexeme) structure the main criteria in defining the types of interlanguage phraseological conformities/disparities with the undoubted primacy of semantic structure.

Comparing the three approaches discussed above (semantic, functional, and contextual) we have ample ground to conclude that have very much in common as, the main criteria of phraseological units appear to be essentially the same, i.e. stability and idiomaticity or lack of motivation. It should be noted however that these criteria as elaborated in the three approaches are sufficient mainly to single out extreme cases: highly idiomatic non-variable and free (or variable) word- groups.

Thus red tape, mare's nest, etc. According to the semantic approach belong to phraseology and are described as fusions as they are completely non-motivated. According to the functional approach they are also regarded as phraseological units because of their grammatical (syntactic) inseparability and because they function, in speech as word-equivalents. According to the contextual approach red tape, mare's nest, etc. make up a group of phraseological units referred to as idioms because of the impossibility of any change m the 'fixed context' and their semantic inseparability.

The status of the bulk of word-groups however cannot be decided with certainty with the help of these criteria because as a rule we have to deal not with mp1ete idiomaticity and stability but with a certain degree of these distinguishing features of phraseological units. No objective criteria of the degree of idiomaticity and stability have as yet been suggested. Thus, e.g., to win a victory according to the semantic approach is a phraseological combination because it is almost completely motivated and allows of certain variability to win, to gain, a victory. According to the functional approach it is not a phraseological unit as the degree of semantic and grammatical inseparability is insufficient for the word-group to function as a word-equivalent. Small hours according to the contextual approach it is literal meaning. If however we classify it proceeding from the functional approach is a word-groups which are partially motivated is decided differently depending on which of the criteria of phraseological units is applied.

There is still another approach to the problem of phraseology in which an attempt is made to overcome the shortcoming of the phraseological theories discussed above. The main features of this new approach which is now more or less universally accepted by Soviet linguists are as follows: Phraseology is regarded as a self-contained branch of linguistics and, not as a part of lexicology. Phraseology deals with a phraseological subsystem of language and not with isolated phraseological units.

3. Phraseology is concerned with all types of set expressions.

4. Set expressions are divided into three classes: phraseological units (e.g. red tape, mare's nest, etc.), phraseomatic units (e.g. win a victory, launch a campaign, etc.) and borderline cases belonging to the mixed class. The main distinction between the first and the second classes is semantic: phraseological units have fully or partially transferred meanings while components of, phraseomatic units are used in their literal meanings.

5. Phraseological and phraseomatic units are not regarded as word- equivalents but some of them are treated as word correlates.

6. Phraseological and phraseomatic units are set expressions and their phraseological stability distinguishes them from free phrases and compound words.

7. Phraseological and phraseomatic units are made up of words of different degree of wordness depending on the type of set expressions they are used in. (cf. e.g. small hours and red tape). Their structural separateness, an important factor of their stability, distinguishes them from compound words (cf. E.g. blackbird and black market).

Other aspects of their stability are: stability of use, lexical stability and semantic stability.

8. Stability of use means that set expressions are reproduced ready-made and not created in speech. They are not elements of individual style of speech but language units.

9. Lexical stability means that the components of set expressions are either irreplaceable (e.g. red tape, mare's nest) or party replaceable within the bounds of phraseological or phraseomatic variance: lexical (e.g. a skeleton in the cupboard - a skeleton in the closet).grammatical (e.g. to be in deep water - to be in deep waters), positional (e.g. head over ears - over head and ears), quantitative (e.g. to lead smb a dance- to lead smb a pretty dance), mixed variants (e.g. raise (stir up) a hornets' nest about one's ears- arouse (stir up) the nest of hornets).

10. Semantic stability is based on the lexical stability of set expressions. Even when occasional changes are introduced the meaning of set expression is preserved. It may only be specified, made more precise, weakened or strengthened. In other words in spite of all occasional phraseological and phraseomatic units, as distinguished from free phrases, remain semantically invariant or are destroyed. For example, the substitution of the verbal component in the free phrase to raise a question by the verb to settle (to settle a question) changes the meaning of the phrase, no such change occurs in to raise (stir up) a hornets' nest about one's ears.

11. An integral part of this approach is a method of phraseological identification which helps to single out set expressions in Modern English.

The diachronic aspect of phraseology has scarcely been investigated. Just a few points of interest may be briefly reviewed in connection with the origin of phraseology has scarcely been investigated. Just a few points of interest may be briefly reviewed in connection with the origin of phraseological units and the ways they appear in language. It is assumed that almost all phrases can be traced back to free word-groups which in the course of the historical development of the English language have acquired semantic and grammatical process of grammaticalization or lexicalization.

Cases of grammaticalization may be illustrated by the transformation of free word-groups composed of the verb have, a noun (pronoun) and Participle II of some other verb into the grammatical form- the Present Perfect in Modern English. The degree of semantic and grammatical inseparability in this analytical word-form is so high that the component has seems to possess no lexical meaning of its own.

The term lexicalization implies that the word-group under discussion develops into a word-equivalent, i.e. a phraseological unit or a compound word. These two parallel lines of lexicalization of free word-groups can be illustrated by the diachronic analysis of, e.g., the compound word instead and the phraseological unit in spite (of). Both of them can be traced back to structurally1 identical free phrases. The process of lexicalization may be observed in Modern English too. The noun yesterday, e.g., in the novel by Thomas Hardy occurs as a free word-group and is spelled with a break yester day.

There are some grounds to suppose that there exists a kind of interdependence between these two ways of lexicalization of free word-groups which makes them mutually exclusive. It is observed, for example, that compounds are more abundant in certain parts of speech, whereas phraseological units are numerically predominant in others. Thus, e.g., phraseological units are found in great numbers as verb-equivalents whereas compound verbs are comparatively few. This leads us to assume that lexicalization of free word-groups and their transformation into words or phraseological units is governed by the fewer phraseological units we are likely to encounter in this class of words.

Very little is known of the factors active in the process of lexicalization of free word-groups which results in the appearance of phraseological units. This problem may be viewed in terms of the degree of motivation. We may safely assume that a free word-group is transformed into a phraseological unit when it acquires semantic inseparability and becomes synchronically non-motivated.

The following may be perceived as the main causes accounting for the less' of motivation of free word-groups:

a) When one of the components of a word-group becomes archaic or drops out of the language altogether the whole word-group may become completely or partially non-motivated. For example, lack of motivation in the word-group kith and kin may be accounted for by the fact that the member-word kith dropped out of the language altogether except as the component of the phraseological unit under discussion. This is also observed in the phraseological unit under discussion.

b) When as a result of a change in the semantic structure of a polysemantic word some of its meanings disappear and can be found only in certain collocations. The noun mind, e.g., once meant 'purpose' or 'intention' and this meaning survives in the phrases to have a mind to do smth., to change one's mind, etc.

c) When a free word-group used in professional speech penetrates into general literary usage, it is often felt as non-motivated. To pull (the) strings (wires), e.g., was originally used as a free word-group in its direct meaning by professional actors in puppet shows. In Modern English, however, it has lost all connection with puppet-shows and therefore cannot also be observed in the' phraseological unit to stick to one's guns, which can be traced back to military English, etc.

Sometimes extra-linguistic factors may account for the loss of motivation, to

show the white feather - 'to act as a coward', e.g., can be traced back to the days when cock-fighting was popular. A white feather in a gamecock's plumage denoted bad breeding and was regarded as a sign of cowardice. Now that cock-fighting is no longer a popular sport, the phrase is felt as non-motivated. See sources of English idioms in: Logan Smith. Words and Idioms. London, 1928.

d) When a word-group making up part of a proverb or saying begins to be used a self-contained unit it may gradually become non-motivated if its connection with the corresponding proverb or saying is not clearly perceived. A new broom, e.g., originates as a component of the saying new brooms sweep clean. New broom as a phraseological unit may be viewed as non-motivated because the meaning of the whole is not deducible from the meaning of the components. Moreover, it seems grammatically and functionally self-contained and inseparable too. In the saying quoted above the noun broom is always used in the plural; as a member-word of the phraseological unit it mostly used in the singular. The phraseological unit a new broom is characterized by functional inseparability. In the saying new brooms sweep clean the adjective new functions as an attribute to the noun brooms, in the phraseological unit a new broom (e.g. Well he is a new broom!) the whole word-group is functionally inseparable.

e) When part of a quotation from literary sources, mythology or the Bible begin to be used as a self-contained unit, it may also lose all connection with the original context and as a result of this become non-motivated. The phraseological unit the green-eyed monster (jealousy) can be easily found as a part of the quotation from Shakespeare "It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on" (Othello, II, i. 165). In Modern English, however, it functions as a non-motivated self-contained phraseological unit and is also used to denote the T.V. set. Achilles heel - 'the weak spot in a man's circumstances or character' can be traced back to mythology, but it seems that in Modern English this word-group functions as a phraseological unit largely because most English speakers do not connect it with the myth from which it was extracted.

1. The final criterion in the semantic approach is idiomaticity whereas in the functional approach syntactic inseparability is viewed as the final test, and in the contextual approach it is stability of context combined with idiomaticity of word-groups.

2. The concept of idiomaticity is not strictly defined. The judgments as to idiomaticity are passed sometimes within the framework of the English language and sometimes from the outside - from the point of view of the mother tongue of the investigator.

It is suggested here that the term idiomaticity should be interpreted as an interlingual notion and also that the degree of idiomaticity should be taken into consideration since between the extreme of complete motivation and lack of motivation there are numerous intermediate group.

3. Each of the three approaches has its merits and demerits. The traditional semantic approach points out the essential features of all kinds of idiomatic phrases as opposed to completely motivated free word-groups. The functional approach puts forward an objective criterion for singling out a small group of word-equivalents possessing all the basic features of words as lexical items. The contextual approach makes the criterion of stability more exact.

4. All the three approaches are sufficient to single out the extreme cases: highly idiomatic phraseological units and free word-groups. The status of the bulk of word-groups possessing different degrees of idiomaticity cannot be decided with certainty by applying the criteria available in linguistic science.

5. The distinguishing feature of the new approach is that phraseology is regarded as a self-contained branch of linguistics and not as a part of lexicology.

1.2 Phrase logical units and their types

It has been repeatedly pointed out that word-groups viewed as functionally and semantically inseparable units are traditionally regarded as the subject matter of phraseology. It should be noted, however, that no proper scientific investigation of English phraseology has been attempted until quite recently. English and American linguists as a rule confine themselves to collecting various words, word- groups and sentences presenting some interest either from the point of view of origin, style, usage, or some other feature peculiar to them. These units are habitually described as idioms but no attempt has been made to investigate these idioms as a separate class of linguistic units or a specific class of word-groups.

The vocabulary of a language is enriched not only by words but also by phraseological units. Phraseological units are word-groups that cannot be' made in the process of speech, they exist in the language as ready-made units. They are compiled in special dictionaries. The same as words phraseological units express a single notion and are used in a sentence as one part of it. American and British lexicographers call such units idioms. We can mention such dictionaries as: L.Smith Words and Idioms L.Smith Words and Idioms 1976, V.Collins Book of English Idioms V.Collins Book of English Idioms 1981 etc. In these dictionaries we can find words, peculiar in their semantics (idiomatic), side by side with word-groups and sentences. In these dictionaries they are arranged, as a rule, into different semantic groups. Phraseological units can be classified according to the ways they are formed, according to the degree of the motivation of their meaning, according to their structure and according to their part-of-speech meaning. A.V. Koonin classified phraseological units according to the way they are formed. He pointed out primary and secondary ways of forming phraseological units. Primary ways of forming phraseological units are those when a unit is formed on the basis of a free word-group:

a) The most productive in Modem English is the formation of phraseological units by means of transferring the meaning of terminological word-groups, e.g. in cosmic technique we ran point out the following phrases: launching pad in its terminological meaning is , in its transferred meaning - i , to link up - , ii in its tranformed meaning it means - ;

b) a large group of phraseological units was formed from free word groups by transforming their meaning, e.g. granny farm - , Troyan horse - , ;

c) phraseological units can be formed by means of alliteration , e.g. a sad sack - , culture vulture - , i , fudge and nudge - i.

d) they can be formed by means of expressiveness, especially it is characteristic for forming interjections, e.g. My aunt!, Hear, hear ! etc

e) they can be formed by means of distorting a word group, e.g. odds and ends was formed from odd ends,

f) they can be formed by using archaisms, e.g. in brown study means in gloomy meditation where both components preserve their archaic meanings,

g) they can be formed by using a sentence in a different sphere of life, e.g. that cock won't fight can be used as a free word-group when it is used in sports (cock fighting), it becomes a phraseological unit when it is used in everyday life, because it is used metaphorically,

h) they can be formed when we use some unreal image, e.g. to have butterflies in the stomach - i , to have green fingers - ycnixi - etc.

i) they can be formed by using expressions of writers or polititions in everyday life, e.g. corridors of power (Snow), American dream (Alby) locust years (Churchil), the winds of change (Mc Millan).

Secondary ways of forming phraseological units are those when a phraseological unit is formed on the basis of another phraseological unit; they are:

a) conversion, e.g. to vote with one's feet was converted into vote with one's feet;

b) changing the grammar form, e.g. Make hay while the sun shines is transferred into a verbal phrase - to make hay while the sun shines;

c) analogy, e.g. Curiosity killed the cat was transferred into Care killed the cat;

d) contrast, e.g. cold surgery - a planned before operation was formed by contrasting it with acute surgery, .thin cat - a poor person was formed by contrasting it with fat cat;

e) shortening of proverbs or sayings e.g. from the proverb You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear by means of clipping the middle of it the phraseological unit to make a sow's ear was formed with the meaning .

f) borrowing phraseological units from other languages, either as translation loans, e.g. living space (German), to take the bull by the horns (Latin) or by means of phonetic borrowings meche blanche (French), corpse d'elite (French), sotto voce (Italian) etc.

Phonetic borrowings among phraseological units refer to the bookish style and are not used very often.

There are different combinations of words. Some of them are free, e.g. to read books (news papers, a letter, etc.) others are fixed, limited in their combinative power, e.g. to go to bed,, to make a report. The combinations of words which are fixed (set-expressions) are called phraseological units.

A free combination is a syntactical unit, which consists notional and form words, and in which notional words have the function of, independent parts of the sentence. In a phraseological unit words are not independent. They form set-expressions, in which neither words nor the order of words can be changed. Free combinations are created by the speaker. Phraseological units are used by the speaker in a ready form, without any changes. The whole phraseological unit has a meaning which may be quite different from the meaning of its components, and therefore the whole unit, and not separate words, has the function of a part of the sentence.

Phraseological units consist of separate words and therefore they are different words, even from compounds. Word have several structural forms, but in phraseological units only one of the components has all the forms of the paradigm of the part of speech it belongs to e.g. to go to bed, goes to bed, went to bed, gone to bed, going to bed, etc., the rest of the components do not change their form.

By the classification of Academician V.Vinogradov phraseological units are devided into three groups: phraseological combinations, phraseological unities and phraseological fusions.

Phraseological combinations are often called traditional because words are combined in their original meaning but their combinations are different in different languages, e.g. cash and carry - (self-service shop), in a big way (in great degree) etc. It is usually impossible to account logically for the combination of particular words. It can be explained only on the basis of tradition, e.g. to deliver a lection (but not to read a lecture).

In phraseological combinations words retain their full semantic independence although they are limited in their combinative power, e.g. to wage wax (but not to lead war), to render assistance, to render services (but not to render pleasure).

Phraseological combinations are the least idiomatic of all the kinds of phraseological units. In other words, in phraseological combinations the meaning of the whole can be inferred from the meaning of the components, e.g. to draw a conclusion, lo lend assistance, to make money, to pay attention to.

In phraseological combinations one of the components (generally the component which is used figuratively) can be combined with different words, e.g. to talk sports, politics, business (but to speak about life), leading worker, leading article (but the main problem), deadly enemy, deadly shot (but a mortal wound), keen interest, keen curiosity, keen sence of humour ( but the great surprise).

Words of wide meaning, as to make, to take, to do, to give, etc. Form many phraseological units, e.g. to take an examination, to take a trip, to take a chance, to take interest, to make fun of, to make inquiries, to make a statement, to make friends, to make haste.

Sometimes traditional combinations are synonyms of words, e.g. to make inquiries = to inquire, to make haste=to hurry.

Some traditional combinations are equivalents of prapositions, e.g. fry means of, in connection with.

Some phraseological combinations have nearly become compounds, e.g. brown bread.

Traditional combinations often have synonymous expressions, e.g. to make a report=to deliver a report.

Phraseological combinations are not equivalents of words. Though the components of phraseological combinations are limited in their combinative power, that is, they can be combined only with certain words and cannot be combined with any other words, they preserve not only their meaning, but all their structural forms, e.g. nice distinction is a phraseological combinations and it is possible to say nice distinctions, nicer distinction, etc., or to clench one's fist. (clenched his fists, was clenching his fists, etc.).

In Prof. A. Smirnitsky's . .,1996 .23 opinion traditional combinations are not phraseological units, as he considers only those word combinations to be phraseological units which are equivalents of words.

In phraseological unities the meaning of the whole can be guessed from the meanings of its components, but it is transferred (metaphorical or metonymical), e.g. to play the first fiddle (to be a leader in something), old salt (experienced sailor) etc. The meaning of the whole word combination is not the sum of the meanings of its components, but it is based on them and the meaning of the whole can be inferred from the image that underlies the whole expression, e.g. to get on one's nerves, to cut smb short, to show one's teeth, to be at daggers drawn.

Phraseological unities are often synonyms of words, e.g. to make a clean breast of=to confess; to get on one's nerves=to irritate.

Phraseological unities are equivalents of words as 1) only one of components of a phraseological unity has structural forms' e.g. to play (played, is playing, etc.) the first fiddle (but not played the first fiddles); to turn ( turned, will turn, etc.) a new leaf ( but not to turn newer leaf or new leaves); 2) the whole unity and not its components are parts of the sentence in syntactical analysis, e.g. in the sentence He took the bull by the horns (attacked a problem boldly) there are only two parts: he - the subject, and took the bull by the horns - the predicate.

In phraseological fusions the degree of motivation is very low, we cannot guess the meaning of the whole from the meanings of its components, they are highly idiomatic and cannot be translated word for word into other languages, e.g.. to pull one's leg (to deceive); at sixes and sevens (in confusion); a mare's nest ( a discovery which turns out to be false or worthless); to show the white feather (to show cowardice); to ride the high horse (to put on airs).

Phraseological fusions are the most idiomatic of all the kinds of phraseological units.

Phraseological fusions are equivalents of words: fusions as well as unities form a syntactical whole in analysis.

Prof. A.I.Smirnitsky worked out structural classification of phraseological units, comparing them with words. He points out one-top units which he compares with derived words because derived words have only one root morpheme. He points out two-top units which he compares with compound words because in compound words we usually have two root morphemes . .,1996 25.

Among one-top units he points out three structural types;

a) units of the type to give up (verb + postposition type), e.g. to art up, to backup, to drop out, to nose out, to buy into, to sandwich in etc.;

b) units of the type to be tired . Some of these units remind the Passive Voice in their structure but they have different prepositions with them, while in the Passive Voice we can have only prepositions by or with, e.g. to be tired of, to be interested in, to be surprised at etc. There are also units in this type which remind free word-groups of the type to be young, e.g. to be akin to, to be aware of etc. The difference between them is that the adjective young can be used as an attribute and as a predicative in a sentence, while the nominal component in such units can act only as a predicative. In these units the verb is the grammar centre and the second component is the semantic centre;

c) prepositional - nominal phraseological units. These units are equivalents of unchangeable words: prepositions, conjunctions, adverbs, that is why they have no grammar centre, their semantic centre is the nominal part, e.g. on the doorstep (quite near), on the nose (exactly), in the course of on the stroke of, in time, on the point of etc. In the course of time such units can become words, e.g. tomorrow, instead etc.

Among two-top units A.I. Smirnitsky points out the following structural types:

a) attributive-nominal such as: a month of Sundays, grey matter, a millstone round one's neck and many others. Units of this type are noun equivalents and can be partly or perfectly idiomatic. In partly idiomatic units (pharisms) sometimes the first component is idiomatic, e.g. high road, in other cases the second component is idiomatic, e.g. first night. In many cases both components are idiomatic, e.g. red tape, blind alley, bed of nail, shot in the arm and many others.

b) verb-nominal phraseological units, e.g. to read between the lines, to speak BBC, to sweep under the carpet etc. The grammar centre of such units is the verb, the semantic centre in many cases is the nominal component, e.g. to fall in love. In some units the verb is both the grammar and the semantic centre, e.g. not to know the ropes. These units can be perfectly idiomatic as well, e.g. to burn one's boats, to vote with one's feet, to take to the cleaners' etc.

Very close to such units are word-groups of the type to have a glance, to have a smoke. These units are not idiomatic and are treated in grammar as a special syntactical combination, a kind of aspect.

c) phraseological repetitions, such as: now or never, part and parcel, country and western etc. Such units can be built on antonyms, e.g. ups and downs, back and forth; often they are formed by means of alliteration, e.g. as busy as a bee. Components in repetitions are joined by means of conjunctions. These units are equivalents of adverbs or adjectives and have no grammar centre. They can also be partly or perfectly idiomatic, e.g. cool as a cucumber (partly), bread and butter (perfectly).

Phraseological units the same as compound words can have more than two tops (stems in compound words), e.g. to take a back seat, a peg to hang a thing on, lock, stock and barrel, to be a shadow of one's own self, at one's own sweet will . .,1996. 45.

Phraseological units can be classified as parts of speech (syntactical classification).. This classification was suggested by I.V. Arnold. Here we have the following groups:

a) noun phraseologisms denoting an object, a person, a living being, e.g. bullet train, latchkey child, redbrick university, Green Berets.

b) verb phraseologisms denoting an action, a state, a feeling, e.g. to break the log-jam, to get on somebody's coat tails, to be on the beam, to nose out, to make headlines.

c) adjective phraseologisms denoting a quality, e.g. loose as a 'goose, dull as lead.

d) adverb phraseological units, such as: with a bump, in the soup, like a dream , like a dog with two tails.

e) preposition phraseological units, e.g. in the course of, on the stroke of

f) interjection phraseological units, e.g. Catch me!, Well, I never! etc.

There is one more type of combinations, also rigid and introduced into discourse ready-made but different from all the types given above in so far as it is impossible to find its equivalent among the parts of speech. These are formulas used as complete utterances and syntactically shaped like sentences, such as the well-known American maxim Keep smiling! or British Keep Britain tidy Arnold I.V. The English Word . M. 1986. 44.

A.I. Smirnitsky was the first among Russian scholars who paid attention to' sentences that can be treated as complete formulas, such as How do you do? Or I beg you pardon; it takes all kinds to make the world; can the leopard change his spots? They differ from all the combinations so far discussed because they are not equivalent to words in distribution and are semantically analysable .. . - .,1996. 67. The formulas discussed by N. N. Amosova are on the contrary semantically specific, e.g. save your breath 'shut up'or tell it to the marines (one of the suggested, origins is tell that to the horse marines; such a corps being non-existent, as marines are sea-going force, the last expression means 'tell it to someone who does not exist because rel people will not believe it') very often such formulas, formally identical to' sentences, are in reality used only as insertions into other sentences: the cap fits 'the statement is true'(e.g. "He called me a liar." - "Well, you should know if the cup fits.") Cf. also: Butter would not melt in his mouth; His bark is worse than his bite.

And one more point: free word combinations can never be polysemantic, while there are polysemantic phraseological units, e.g.

To be on the go 1. to be busy and active

2. to be leaving

3. to be tipsy

4. to be near one's end

have done with 1. Make an end of

2 give up

3 reach the end of

Two types of synonymy are typical of phraseological units:

1. Synonymy of phraseological units that do not contain any synonymous words and are based on different images, e.g.

To leave no stone unturned = to move heaven and earth

To haul down colours = to ground arms

In free word combinations synonym}' is based on the synonymy of particular words (an old man = elderly man).

2. Phraseological units have word synonyms: To make up one's mind = to decide

To haul down colours = to surrender

American and English dictionaries of unconventional English, slang and idioms and other highly valuable reference books contain a wealth of proverbs, saying, various lexical units of all kinds, but as a rule do not seek to lay down a reliable criterion to distinguish between variable word-groups and phraseological units. Paradoxical as it may seem the first dictionary in which theoretical principles for the selection of English phraseological units were elaborated was published in our country. It should be recalled that the first attempt to place the study of various word-groups on a scientific basis was made by the outstanding Russian linguist A.A.Schachroatov in his world-famous book Syntax. Schachmatov's work was continued by Academician V.V. Vinogradov whose approach to phraseology is discussed below. Investigation of English phraseology was initiated in our country by pro.: A.V. Kuriin (A.B. . - . ., 1955)

Attempts have been made to approach the problem of phraseology in different ways. Up till now, however, there is a certain divergence of opinion as to the essential feature of phraseological units as distinguished from other word- groups and the nature of phrases that can be properly termed phraseological units.

The complexity of the problem may be largely accounted for by the fact that the border-line between free or variable word-groups and phraseological units is not clearly defined. The so-called free word-groups are only relatively free as collocability of their member-words is fundamentally delimited by their lexical and grammatical valency which makes at least some of them very close to set-phrases. Phraseological units are comparatively stable and semantically inseparable. Between the extremes of complete motivation and variability of member-words on the one hand and lack of motivation combined with complete stability of the lexical components and grammatical structure on the other hand there are innumerable border-line cases.

However, the existing terms, .. - , ., 1956. e.g. set-phrases, idioms, word-equivalents, reflect to a certain extent the main debatable issues of phraseology which centre on the divergent views concerning the nature and essential features of phraseological units as distinguished from the so-called free word-groups. The term set-phrase implies that the basic criterion of differentiation is stability 6f the lexical components and grammatical structure of word-groups. The term idioms generally imply that the essential feature of the linguistic units under consideration is idiomaticity or lack of motivation. The term habitually used by English and American linguists is very often treated as synonymous with the term phraseological unit universally accepted in our country. for a different interpretation of the term idiom see: .. . 1956. The term word-equivalent stresses not only the semantic but also the functional inseparability of certain word-groups and their aptness to function in speech as single words.

Thus differences in terminology reflect certain differences in the main criteria used to distinguish between free wore-groups and a specific type of linguistic units generally known as phraseology. These criteria and the ensuing classification are briefly discussed below. Phraseological units are habitually defined as non-motivated word-groups that cannot be freely made up in speech but are reproduced as ready-made units. This definition proceeds from the assumption that the essential features of phraseological units are stability of the lexical components and lack of motivation. this approach to English phraseology is closely bound up with the research work carried out in the field of Russian phraseology by Academician V.V. Vinogradov. It is consequently assumed that unlike components of free words-groups which may vary according to the needs of communication, member-words of phraseological units are always reproduced as single unchangeable collocations.

Thus, for example, the constituent red in the free word-group red flower may, if necessary, be substituted for by any other adjective denoting colour (blue, white, etc.), without essentially changing the denotation meaning of the word- group under discussion (a flower of a certain colour). In the phraseological unit red tape (bureaucratic methods) no such substitution is possible, as a change of the adjective would involve a complete change in the meaning of the whole group. A (blue (black, white, etc.) tape would mean 'a tape of a certain colour'. It follows that the phraseological unit red tape is semantically non-motivated, i.e. its meaning cannot be deduced from the meaning of its components and that it exists as a ready-made linguistic unit which does not allow of any variability of its lexical components.

It is also argued that non-variability of the phraseological unit is not confined to its lexical components. Grammatical structure of phraseological units is to a certain extent also stable. Thus, though the structural formula of the word- groups red flower and red tape is identical (A + +N), the noun flower may be used in the plural (red flowers), whereas no such change is possible in the phraseological unit red tape; red tapes would then denote 'tapes of red colour' but not 'bureaucratic methods'. This is also true of other types of phraseological units, e.g. what will Mrs. Grundy say?, where the verbal component is invariably reproduced in the same grammatical form. Taking into account mainly the degree of idiomaticity phraseological units may be classified into three big groups: phraseological fusions, phraseological unities and phraseological collocations. This classification was suggested by Academician V. V. Vinogradov,

Phraseological fusions are completely non-motivated word-groups, such as red tape - 'bureaucratic methods'; heavy father - `serious or solemn part in a theatrical play'; kick the bucket - 'die'; and the like. The meaning of the components has no connections whatsoever, at least synchronically, with the meaning of the whole group. Idiomaticity is, as a rule, combined with complete stability of the lexical components and the grammatical structure of the fusion.

Phraseological unites are partially non-motivated as their meaning can usually be perceived through the metaphoric meaning of the whole phraseological unit. For example, to show one's teeth, to wash one's dirty linen in public if interpreted as semantically motivated through the combined lexical meaning of the component words would naturally lead one to understand these in their literal meaning. The metaphoric meaning of the whole unit, however, readily suggests 'take a threatening tone' or 'show an intention to injure' for show one's teeth and 'discuss or make public one's quarrels' for wash one's dirty linen in public. Phraseological unities are as a rule marked by a comparatively high degree of stability of the lexical components.

Phraseological collocations are motivated but they are made up of words possessing specific lexical valency which accounts for a certain degree of stability in such word-groups. In phraseological collocations variability of member-words is strictly limited. For instance, bear a grudge may be changed into bear malice, but not into bear a fancy or liking. We can say take a liking (fancy) but not take hatred (disgust). These habitual collocations tend to become kind of clichs See 'Word-Groups and Phraseological Units', I, p 6-t. Here the terms phraseological collocations and habitual collocations are used synonymously, where the meaning of member-words h to some extent dominated by the meaning of the whole group. Due to these phraseological collocations are felt as possessing a certain degree of semantic inseparability.

The current definition of phraseological units as highly idiomatic word- groups which cannot be' freely made up in speech, but are reproduced as ready- made units has been subject to severe criticism by linguists of different schools of thought. The main objections and debatable points may be briefly outlined as follows:

1. The definition is felt to be inadequate as the concept ready-made units seems to be rather vague. In fact this term can be applied to a variety of heterogeneous linguistic phenomena ranging from word-groups to sentences (e.g. proverbs, sayings) and also quotations from poems, novels or scientific treatises all of which can be described as ready-made units.


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