Semantic connections in the structure of binomial pairs

Binomial pairs as a phrases that indicate the presence of two or more equal members and have a fixed lexical relationship connection. Binomial expressions - a separate class of phraseological units of the English language with its specific features.

Рубрика Иностранные языки и языкознание
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Язык английский
Дата добавления 20.07.2018
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The binomial lexical combinations are used in different styles of speech, regardless of the cultural level of the speakers. The binomial pairs, as factual material, have penetrated into the cultural British tradition and show the particularities of communication as an element of language tradition and ethnicity. The binomial pair is a phrase consisting of two or more words mainly connected by a conjunction or preposition, but in some cases the words are connected asyndetically. The English addressing `Ladies and gentlemen ' is an typical example of binomial ties.

Some linguistic researches on binomial expressions demonstrate us that this problem has still got many aspects to explore (Janice Golenblock `Binomial Expressions', (2000), Yakov Malkiel `Studies in Irreversible Binomials' (1998) and others.

The urgency of the work consists in the need to carry out a comprehensive study of various types of lexico-grammatical connections in a single system of their formal and substantive aspects. Binomial pairs are a very productive phenomenon of modern English, the frequency of which has been increasing all the time.

The major aim of this article is to review the semantics features of the binomial pairs of English. The present paper also attempts to spell out the typical types of connection within the binomial pairs.

The binomial pairs are a very productive phenomenon of modern English, whose frequency of use has been increasing all time. There are other names of the binomial pairs, namely `binomials', `Siamese twins', `binomial expressions', `irreversible binomials', `freezes', etc., which in the context of the English language they belong to a pair or group of words. Taken together as an idiomatic expression or slang, they are usually combined with conjunctions `and' and `or'. The order of the use of words in a binomial pair can not be changed.

Here are some of the most common binomials, split into five categories:

1. Binomial pairs joined by and.

2. Binomial pairs joined by or.

3. Binomial pairs with alliteration.

4. Rhyming binomial pairs.

5. Binomial pairs joined by other words.

Most of the binomial combinations are expressed in words that not only belong to the same part of the language (conceptually or functionally), but also to the same subgroup of a certain part of the language:

- bed and breakfast (singular nouns);

- safe and sound (qualitative adjectives);

- more or less (adjectives in a comparative degree);

- two or three (numerical numerals);

- this and that (indicative pronouns in singular);

- a word or two (noun + numeric);

- up and doing (adverb + participle);

- up and Adam (adverb + noun).

There are a lot of anthroponyms in the group of binomial combinations such as names and nicknames. Such vocabulary is very simple on its structural organization, e. g: Adam and Eve, Tom and Jerry, Romeo and Juliet, Tristan and Isolde, December and May, Dungeons and Dragons, Jack and Jill, Jew and Gentile, Brahms and Liszt, Abbott and Costello, Antony and Cleopatra, Batman and Robin Bert and Ernie, Bonnie and Clyde, Gilbert and Sullivan, Jacob and Esau, Laurel and Hardy, Lennon and McCartney, Lewis and Clark, Penn and Teller, Rodgers and Hart, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Sonny and Cher and so on.

The elements of binomial groups are characterized by different types of semantic relations:

- synonymous (between words and expressions of the same or similar meaning): certain and sure, bits and pieces, faults and flaws, flotsam or jetsam;

- antonymic (between words and expressions with opposite meanings): far and near, win or lose, up and down, by right or wrong, big head and little wit;

- associative relations between words associated with concurrent actions or when one action causes another: food and drink, flesh and bone, by birth and breeding, by fire and sword, shoot and kill;

- semantic relations between words belonging to the same semantic group: night and day, by land and by the sea, black and blue, butter and eggs; the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker (professions), the father and the mother of the row (relationships).

In the group of binomial synonymous expressions the most popular are: ages and generations, aid and abet, aid and comfort, brick and mortar, by hook or by crook, cease and desist, cheek by jowl, clean and tidy, (this) day and age, dot the i's and cross the t's,first and foremost, hail and farewell, hand over fist, haughty and high minded, heart and soul, herbs and spices, house and home, hunger and thirst, leaps and bounds, marque and reprisal, neat and tidy, six of one, half a dozen of the other, nook and cranny, null and void, over and done with, pain and suffering, peace and quiet, pick and choose,(on) pins and needles, plain and simple, prim and proper, rocks and shoals, nickel and dime, dollars and cents, rant and rave, shock and awe, signs and wonders, skull and bones, Skull and crossbones, straight and narrow, ticks and chigger, wind and rain, yea and amen.

The binomial synonymous expressions are understood as one concept. So, for example, `null and void' is replaced by one word `invalid'; `clean and tidy' - `clean'; `dollars and cents' - `money'; `skull and bones' - `thin'; `herbs and spices' - `herbs', `house and home' - `house'; `wind and rain' - `bad weather'; `signs and wonders' - `wonders'; `hunger and thirst' - `hunger'; `half a dozen of the other' - `half a dozen; `nook and cranny' - comfort'.

The binomial pairs can be based on the repetition of their elements (bit- by-bit, burning for burning) or on aliasing (live and learn). Most binomes are irreversible, that is, they are used in a certain order. To rearrange them, for example, `swim or sink' instead of `sink or swim', we completely change their meaning, usually underlining their literary, sometimes humorous, and not figurative meaning.

The binomial antonymous expressions: addition and subtraction, assets and liabilities, back and forth, balls and strikes, beginning to end, black and white, big and small, boys and girls, bride and groom, brother and sister, butt and pass, buy and sell, catch and release, church and state, cops and robbers, coming and going, cowboys and Indians, days and nights, deep and wide, dos and don 'ts, dusk till dawn, ebb and flow, expressed or implied, fire and ice, fore and aft, foreign and domestic, forward and backward, friend or foe, front to back, give and take, good and evil, hand and foot, head over heels, Heaven and Hell, here and there, hide and seek, hill and dale, high crimes and misdemeanours, him and her, high and low, hips and valleys, his and hers, hither and thither, hot and cold,hurry up and wait, land and sea, life or death, long and short, lost and found, love and hate,love and war, mom and pop, naughty or nice, near and far, nip and tuck, north to south, now and then, now and later, open and shut, over and under, park and ride, pen and ink, port and starboard, pros and cons, rank and file, savings and loan, in sickness and in health, start to finish, strike and dip, sweet and soar, stop and go, the quick and the dead, tip and ring, top to bottom, town and country, victory and defeat, war and peace, washer and dryer, wax and wane.

The antonymity of values creates some problems in their perception. The difficulties arise when it is difficult or even impossible to establish which of the two completely different meanings is taken: positive or negative meaning. The biggest problem is that the misunderstanding of the antonym leads to the completely opposite true understanding of the whole thought or idea.

Arranging words in the form of binoms can be based on the alliteration of lexical units, which is often inherent in one or another semantic type of connection (synonymy, antonymy, etc.): chop and changer wear and tear sink or swim, chalk And cheese, arty and crafty, by art or by part, by dribs and drabs, by may and main.

The binomial expressions with alliteration are also widely used in the English language, e. g. : bag and bag, baubles and beads, beams and balance, bed and breakfast, belt and braces, big and bad, the birds and the bees, black and blue, bold and beautiful, bootleggers and baptists, boxers or briefs, spread and butter, bull and boar, butts and bounds, cash and carry, chalk and cheeses, cliques and clans, cookie and cream, deaf and dumb, dine and dash, down and dirty, dribs and drabs, drink and drive, drunk and disorderly, dungeons and dragons, fast and furious, feast or famine, fire and fagot, flip-flop, flora and fauna, forgive and forget, form and function, footloose and fancy free, friend or foe, fun and frolics, fur and feathers, ghosts and goblins, grins and giggles, guys and gals, hearth and home, hem and haw, juking and jiving, king and country, kit and caboodle, kith and kin, but not least, latitude and longitude , life and limb, live and learn, lock and load, love it or leave it, mix and match, meek and mild, part and parcel.

By its nature, alliteration is of different types, but the most common occurrence in binomials is alliteration with the repetition of the first consonant sound as we can see in the above-given examples.

An important role in the binomial expressions plays the rhyme, which is consonant with the endings. The rhyme shows the people's sense of melodiousness and artistic taste, the subconscious desire for wealth and beauty of sound. Rhyme provides the logical form of the binomial expressions, making it stationary and at the same time easy to remember.

The binomial expressions with rhymes or sounds similar to words, e. g.: break and take, box and cox, chalk and talk, charts and darts, chips and dip, double trouble, even Steven, fender bender, five and dime, flotsam and jetsam, fun in the sun, no fuss-no muss, helter-skelter, high and dry, hire and fire, hither and thither, hocus-pocus, hot to trot, huff and puff, hustle and bustle, lap and gap, lick `em and stick `em, mean-green, meet and greet, motor voter, my way or the highway, name and shame, name it and claim it, near and dear, never- ever, odds and sods, onwards and upwards, out and about, pedal to the metal, pump and dump, rough and tough, shout and clout, saggy-baggy, shake and bake, slowly but surely, smoke and joke, stash and dash, stop and drop, surf and turf, time and tide, town and gown, use it or lose it, wake and bake, wear and tear, weed and feed.

The principle of repetition manifests itself at all levels of the organization of the material world as a factor in the structure of natural objects. The same principle is realized at all levels of language as the basis of its structural unity, but the specificity is the formation of combinations of elementary associations with the change as informative capacity. The repetition occurs in all types of texts - from the scientific-journalistic (strength to strength) to humorous (bling-bling).

The binomial expressions with repetitions, e. g. : again and again, all in all, around and around, arm in arm, back to back, be all and end all, billions and billions, bit by bit, bling-bling, bumper to bumper, business to business, by and by, let bygones be bygones, cheek to cheek, closer and closer, (from) coast to coast, day to day, day by day, for days and days, four-by-four, elbow to elbow, end to end, dog eat dog, from ear to ear, end over end, an eye for an eye, eye to eye, forever and ever, higher and higher, home sweet home, horror of horrors, kill or be killed, king of kings, less and less, little by little, live and let live, lower and lower, louder and louder, man to man, measure for measure, mouth to mouth, neck and neck, never say never, nose to nose, on and on, out and out, over and over, round and round, shoulder to shoulder, side by side, step by step, strength to strength.

The semantics of duplicate phrases is not a homogeneous group of units. First of all, they may differ in degree of the semantic connection of the components that make up them. From this point of view, the following binomial groups are distinguished as:

1) phraseological units, e. g: all the world and his wife, more dead than alive, ye gods and little fishes, over and done with;

2) idioms, used as terminological combinations of words or as figurative conversions, e. g: back and fill, from clew to earing, fetch and carry;

3) stable phrases, which not include conjunctions, and prepositions by, after, for, etc., e. g: year by year, week by week, hour by hour, night by night. Up to variable combinations of words are approaching binomial e. g: day after day, hand to hand, shoulder to shoulder, etc.

We can find in binomial pairs a number of terms that have a metaphorical meaning (e. g cat and dog). The semantics of common expression in the English linguistic culture `Cat and dog life' denotes contradiction. This testifies to the constant dissension of two beings, which is often projected into forms of humanbeing coexistence. A dog and a cat are the closest animals to humans, their helpers and pets. At first glance, the portable values of these concepts should be marked only by positive connotations. However, the analysis also reveals the negative connotations. These concepts are used in language and acquired the figurative feature.

The binomial pairs are often used in such kinds of expressions as greetings, wishes, toasts, gratitude, curses, oaths, sayings, folk comparisons, aphorisms, fairy tales, childish remorse, teasers, etc. Binomial vocabulary acts as a figurative mediator between the plan of expression and the content plan, and synthesizes various aspects of the national and cultural background. Decoding the secondary nominations depends on the recipient's observation, his character, temperament, personal life experience, communication skills.

The binomial pairs are also used in common English speech (especially, slang) where the conjunction can be eliminated, e. g. : handy-dandy, hunky- punky, harum-scarum, namby-pamby, nitty-gritty, pell-mell, willy-nilly, itty-pitty, and so on.

The informative structure ensures the binom consistency: firstly, in the presence of repetitive elements in the text, and secondly, the presence of elements that ensure the progression and receipt of new information. Their association in thematic progressions brings connectivity to the global level, providing communication and progress within text or subtexts. The following examples prove this idea, e. g. : dog and bone, frog and toad, hand and blister, north and south, rabbit and pork, tit for tat, trouble and strife, two and eight, whistle and flute.

Some binomial pairs have an unstable status, that is, they occupy an intermediate position between actual phrases and words combination, which is manifested in their distinctly formal or hyphenated writing, , e. g. : dot and dash, dot-and-dash; rough and tumble, rough-and-tumble, by and by, by-and-by, milk and water, milk-and-water, common or garden, common-or-garden, sound and light, sound-and-light, cloak and dagger; cloak-and-dagger; deaf and dumb, deaf-and-dumb; dot and carry, dot-and-carry

Therefore, we noticed that at the structural-semantic level, the binomial pairs contain some stereotypical characteristics. They reflect national and cultural peculiarities and express the standardized language cliche. The stability of the structure and semantics of binomial pairs allows them to be easily `adapted' to a variety of communicative situations, which create the possibility of a wide range of their use. Note that the binomial expressions with alliterations and rhymes strengthen the stylistic functions, which serve as rhythmic organization. That can help to better memorization and reproduction in speech activity.

Summing up, we found that binomial expressions is a lexical phrase, which, on the one hand, indicates the presence of two or more equal members, and on the other hand, has a fixed lexical relationship. In some cases, the binomial expressions provide for the presence of a unifying service element. The prospect of further research is to in-depth analysis of the peculiarities of English binomial vocabulary with the obligatory involvement of the cultural aspect of language.


binomial lexical phraseological

1. Bolinger D. (1962). Binomials and Pitch Accent. New York: Lingua 11, 33-44 (eng).

2. Collins English Dictionary. (2014). Harper Collins Publishers, 680 (eng).

3. Golenbock J. (2000). Binomial Expressions. Does Frequency Matter? Patterns of English Usage. London: Penguin Books, 320 (eng).

4. Gustafsson M. (1984). The Syntactic Features of Binomial Expressions in Legal English. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 123-141 (eng).

5. Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English. (2008). London: Mills@ Boon, 1024 (eng).

6. Malkiel Y. (1968). Studies in Irreversible Binomials. New York: Lingua 8, 113-160 (eng).

7. Miller G.A., Ojermann McKean. (1964). Chronometric Study of Some Relations Between Sentences. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, V. 16. 307-402 (eng).

8. Schiffrin D. (1987). Discourse Markers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 321 (eng).

9. The Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary of Current English. (2010). UK: Oxford University Press, 820 (eng).

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