Phraseological unit as a newspaper title

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Chapter 1. Phraseology as a science.

1.1 Semantic structures of phraseological units

1.2 Classification of phraseological units

Chapter 2. Functional style.

2.1 Classifications of functional styles

2.2 Features of newspaper style

Chapter 3. Peculiarities of the title.

3.1 Role of the title in revealing conceptual information of the text

3.2 Phraseological unit as a newspaper title and its functions


The list of used literature


Phraseology is the treasury of the language. There is a reflection of the nations history in phraseological units, originality of culture and life. Phraseology often carries bright national character.

The subject matter of this qualification paper is that phraseology as a science reveals peculiarites of phraseological units in language in connection with other levels of language. It also studies sementical, structural-grammatical, expressive-stylistical property of phraseological units, pecularities of its usage, make its classificiation look though sources and ways of filling up phraseological found of the language.

The object of this qualification paper is devoted to study the role of phraseological unit in the language and use of phrraseologucal units as a newspaper title.

The actuality of the qualification paper is determined by the necessity phraseological units in newspaper title.

The linguistic phenomenon, which is phraseological unit, will be investigated in modern methods. The analysis will be used to achieve the aim and tasks put forward in this qualification paper.

The aim and hypothesis require solving the following tasks:

— to study semantic peculiarities of phraseological units.

— to investigade functional styles, in paticularly features of newspaper style.

— to analyze peculiarities of the title and the role of the phraseological unit in newspaper style.

Theoretical importance of qualification paper consists in the material of

Phraseological units which deals with functional style and newspaper title.

Practical value of the qualification paper is that in the results of the paper can be used in course of lexicology, phraseology and stylistics Besides the material of the paper can be while preparing for seminars by the discipline named above, writing the course papers and qualification papers.

The structure of qualification paper consists of introduction, 3 chapters, conclusion, summary and bibliografy. The chapter I consists of 3 paragraphs:

1. Functional style

2. Classification of functional style

3. Features of new style

Chapter III consists of phragraphs:

1. Pecularities of the title

2. Role of the title in revealing conceptual information of the text.

3. Phraselogical unit as a newspaper tutle.

The sources of the qualification paper. While investigating the qualification paper we have widely used different works of well known scientists such as Азнаурова Э. С., Амосова Н. Н., Арнолъд И. В., Ашурова Д. У., Галперин И. В., Жуков В. П., Бранде М. П. and etc.

In the conclusion, we present the results of the qualification paper.

Summary includes theoritical and practical results of the qualification paper.

Chapter 1. Phraseology as science

1. 1 Semantic structure of the phraseological units

In linguistics, phraseology describes the context in which a word is used. This often includes typical usages and sequences, such as idioms, phrasal verbs, and multi-word lexical units.

Phraseology appeared in the domain of lexicology and is undergoing the process of segregating as a separate branch of linguistics. Lexicology deals with words and their meanings, whereas phraseology studies such collocations of words (phraseologisms, phraseological units, idioms), where the meaning of the whole collocation is different from the simple sum of literal meanings of the words, comprising a phraseological unit. F.e. `Dutch auction' is not an auction taking place in Netherlands. The meaning of this phraseological unit refers to any auction, where instead of rising, the prices fall (compare «Dutch comfort», «Dutch courage», «Dutch treat» reflecting complicated historical factors). Phraseological units are (according to Prof. Kunin A.V.) stable word-groups with partially or fully transferred meanings («to kick the bucket», «Greek gift», «drink till all’s blue», «drunk as a fiddler (drunk as a lord, as a boiled owl)», «as mad as a hatter (as a march hare)»).

According to Rosemarie Glдser, a phraseological unit is a lexicalized, reproducible bilexemic or polylexemic word group in common use, which has relative syntactic and semantic stability, may be idiomatized, may carry connotations, and may have an emphatic or intensifying function in a text.

History of the development of phraseology

Gabriele Knappe gives a quick look at the history of phraseology. Phraseology is a scholarly approach to language which developed in the twentieth century. It took its start when Charles Bally’s notion of locutions phraseologiques entered Russian lexicology and lexicography in the 1930s and 1940s and was subsequently developed in the former Soviet Union and other Eastern European countries. From the late 1960s on it established itself in (East) German linguistics but was also sporadically approached in English linguistics, too. The earliest English adaptations of phraseology are by Weinreich (1969; within the approach of transformational grammar), Arnold (1973), and Lipka (1974). In Great Britain as well as other Western European countries, phraseology has steadily been developed over the last twenty years. The activities of the European Society of Phraseology (EUROPHRAS) and the European Association for Lexicography (EURALEX) with their regular conventions and publications attest to the prolific European interest in phraseology. With regard to bibliographical publications, the voluminous bibliography by Joachim Lengert (1998−1999) is an inventory of studies on phraseology (in a wide sense) in Romance philology «from the beginning until 1997». It comprises 17,433 titles. Bibliographies of recent studies on English and general phraseology are included in Welte (1990) and specially collected in Cowie/Howarth (1996) whose bibliography is reproduced and continued on the internet and provides a rich source of the most recent publications in the field.

Phraseology is a science, abaut phraseological units, which are firm word combinations with complicated semantical structure.

Prominet linguist, Professor E.D. Polivanov, first put the question abaut phraseologies as a linguistical disipline. He considered that phraseology «will occupy firm position (like phonetics, morphologies etc.) in linguistical literature in future-when in consequent stating the varied problems our science is deprived, will be acasual gap''.

The works of V. V. Vinagradov promoted the appearance a numerous works on phraseologies in different languages. Such accumulation of systematized facts is one of the premises of the creation of phraseology as a linguistical discipline.

Priority in separation of phraseology as a separate linguistical discipline belongs to the former science.

In forming the the phrase, the human factors plays an enormous role, sience suppressing majority of phraseolgical units are connected with human being, with varied sphere of his actuvity. Phraseological units fill the lexical system of the language, which cannot completely provide the description of human activity, and in most cases are single indication of human, characteristics, his actuvities, conditions situatuons etc. phraseology is a treasure of the language. The reflections of the histiry and folkore are found in phraseological units, originality of its culture and the way of living. A phraseological unit often carries brightly national nature or color.

Phraselogy as a science reveals the pecularities of rhe praseological units and defines their place among the other units of the language. In addition, semantic, structual, grammatical, expressive-stylistic characteristics of phraseological unit, peculiarities of their use, classification, consideration sources of the ways of the renewing the phraselogical fund of the language are studied. The tasks of the historical phraseology are the study of their origin, also studying various changes of semantics, structure, lexical compositsion, stylistic characteristics of phraseological units. The phraseological units are accepted as a firm word combination. As a special type of language unit, phraseological unit possess specific features and as structual division, contancy of components, nature of gramatical stucture, equivalence to the word.

All the phraseological units are higher than a word, have a dismembered structure, and divided on components. Phraseolgical units are formally correlative with word. For phraseolgical units constancy of component and stability of «lexical'' composition is typical. Each phraseolgical unit is gramatically structured. It falls into one or another gramatical categery and depending on this possesses full or incomplete set of the paradigmatic forms.

Phraseolgical unit is more compkex language unit, than word, in structural and in semantic spheres. However, for majority of them functional vicinty to word is characteristic. Semantic wholeness is a constancy of components. The structure of the phraseological units defines other important particularity of the phraseolgical unit approaching them with. This means that in system of the language they exist as ready made units that is they are not made in speech process, but are extracted from memory and are used in that lexical meanings, grammatical forms and functions, which are to express.

Among phraseological units, it is possible to emphasize two groups, sayings and proverbs. Mono semantics is typical for proverbs. The polysemies of proverbs do not exist in English.

The phraseological combinations, including saying and proverbs, are used as expressive means of the language. If they have some changes, than they act as a stylistic device. These changes of the form can be of different nature: from cut-in of on determination in combination to full destruction of phraseological unit and reconstruction main, direct meaning in phraseological joining.

There by, phraseological unit is reproducible phrase in speech; which have its own meanings, constant components and grammatical structure, more often equivalent of a word.

Phraseologies are vastly more complex units, than a word. The particularities of the phraseologies are thir differentiation from variable combinations of the words, analysis of their meanings.

Semantic structure of the phraseological units is formed with interaction of their lexical components. We sall compare some words in free uae and in composition of the phrase. Therefore, variable word-combination show one’s face means, «показать свое лицо». In process, word-combination gains the meaning «появится»

appear = move + nearer (into view).

Among many components of the semantic structure of the word the word show (bring forward, expose, exhibit to view, produce for inspection, allow tobe seen, appear and etc) there is a component corresponding meaning of the word appear completely falls into semantic structure of the unit `show one’s face.' In meaning face (front of head, from forehead to chin, outward show, aspet) also comes to light the potentional meaning «show» and potential meaning «движения» and «направления и движения»: face- front part of anyting- main entrance (coming/moving/or going in/nearer). As you can see, potential meaning of the word show and face are transformed in the main and differential meaning of the phraseological unit. The metaphoric re- interpreted wprd-combination due to its internal image has gained the connotational meaning, in paticular colloquial coloring and ironic estimation: and it’s God blessing he came too, what with you, afraid to show face down at the Post Office.

The other example: phrase give smb the slip means, «сбежатъ, покинутъ без предупреждения» (escape =move + away + from smb+ unexpectedly)

Among many components of the semantic structure of the word, give (hand over bestow, render, grant, deliver, put forth oneself) there is component «from», meaning removing (the potential meaning of the word give and differential meaning of the phraseological unit).

In semantic structure of the word slip and main maening of the phraseological unit, importance of the phrase was formed because of recomprehension of the word — combination, in which has occurred the redistribution of the meaning: familiar — colloquial stylistic coloring, irony or disapproval:

Trying to give us the slip, was ye, you pup!

Given semantic analysis prove that in base to making phraseology, can lie any semantic sign of the subject or phenomena surrounding reality, finding the reflection in semantic structure as word-combinations as a whole, or separate words. Connotational and functional stylistic meanings are defined by contents of the internal image of the phrase, as well as by the nature of the semantic shift in it.

In process of making phraseological units, word-combinations may change their meaning.

For full understanding the specifics of phraseological meaning, it is important to distinguish not only internal semantic connections, but also structual-syntactical ones. Peculiarity of these connection. The comparision of the semantic structures of the contraposition, subservience, inconsistency (were used definitions of phraseological and explanatory dictionaries). For intance: to drag one’s feet — move (meaning) + along (the differential meaning `направление движения"), (the semantic component «вперед») + by foot (the differential maening «способ перемешения»), (the semantic component «пешком» + very (the differential meaning «усиления действия»), (the semantic component «крайней степени» + slowly (the differential meaning «темп») (the semantic component «медлителность» + from tiredness (the potential meaning «физическое состояниеб движущегося лица при перемещении») (the semantic component «усталость») + functional stylistics meaning (literal bookish) + connotational meanning of «экспрессивность».

Revealing only paradigma tic connections cannot completetly open essence of phraseological meaning. For phraseological unit it is important to study whole complex of the syntagmatic connections. The big part of phraseological units, as is known, is homonymous to word-combination on structure, which they are built. So it is very important to study the interaction of the phrase and context. Only realization in speech gives the true notion about particularity of the using the phrase, nature of its meaning. Semantical connection not only are taken into account, but also connections of the indecation i.e. connection between sign and detonate. These connections are complex and changeable, since at expression of the thoughts in speech same detonate can be marked differently (flee — show the heels to smb. cut and run etc.) On the other hand, the same indication (the sign) can mark different denotate.

The study of the external phraseological connections helps to distinguish the true Semantic contents one same indications. We shall consider the phrase stretch one’s legs:

He sat down and streched his legs out on another chair Carter D. Tomorrow I with us.- M., 1953-c. 88,

The Alderman got out, as he said, to stretch his legs up the hill Irving W. Tales of a Traveler-New York, 1965. -c. 358

So, in the first example «sat down» and «out on another chair» show that we deal with variable word-combination «вытянуть ноги», in the second — «got out» and «up the hill» prove phraseological peculiarity of the phrase — «прогуляться, размять ноги». It is obviously homonymous phenomena.

The development of the polysemy of the phraseological units reveals itself in expansion of combinabilty mainly. Semantic and dialectical associations of the broad abstract notion with concrete figurative notion give the phraseological units a possibility to realize carrying of its name on different subjects and phenomena within one notion. However, this creates the possibility in new contextual condition to find new meaning or its tone on the base of the same image. If change of the contents of the phrase occurs within the notion on the same level of the abstractions, than appears only coloring of importance. We shall compare two sentences with phrase make headway — move along (with difficulty) («продвигаться вперед» с трудом продвигаться вперед):

A sudden fear struck him and he turned half against the current fighting with every reserve of streight to hold his position and at the same time make same head-way. Cope I «The Fair House «. London, 1955. c. 142.

In the meanwhile we had been making headway at a good pace. Stevenson R. Treasure Island -M., 1948. c. 115.

The Pointers «fighting, streight «in the context of the first sentence realizes the meaning» c трудом продвигаться вперед «, word «at a good pace», in the second sentence removes the semantic tone «c трудом «in «make haedway», etc. potencial meaning «преодоление препятствия «can sometimes actualize under attention of the speech situation. The phrase increases its that brihgs to the expansion of its semantics.

Revealed paradigmatic features and syntagmatic connection of phraseological units witnesses of close interaction of these connections on phraseological level.

Under paradigmatic consideration of meaning of phraseological units, whole semantic structure is taken into account, the total complex of differental meaning, connotational functional-stylistic and disturbutional signs, either as their place in corresponding semantical places. Syntagmatics realizes only one meaning of the phraseological unit or tone of its meaning. In syntagmatic plan phraseological unit is characterized only as member of one synonymous row and semantic field.

Change of the external phraseological connections brings to the change of the paradigmatic connections of the phraseologica unit, to gain its new meaning.

Therefore, phraseological unit can become the member of the various semantical-phraseological paradigms. All this witnesses the systematized peculiarities of phraseological unit, about potential ability to constant developmentand renewing the phraseological fund of the language.

Alongside with separate words speakers use larger blocks functioning as whole (consisting › 1 word). In any language there are certain restrictions imposed upon co-occurence of words.

They can be connected with linguistic factors or the ties in the extra-linguistic reality.

3 types of lexical combinability of words:

1) Free combinationGrammatical properties of words are the main factor of their combinability

Ex. : I’m talking to you. You are writing.

Free combinations permit substitution of any of its elements without semantic change of the other element.

2) Collocations

Ex. : to commit a murder

Bread & butter

Dark night

Blue sky

Bright day

They are the habitual associations of a word in a language with other particular words. Speakers become accustomed to such collocations.

Very often they are related to the referential & situational meaning of words. Sometimes there are collocations, which are removed from the reference to extra-linguistic reality. (collocations involving, colour words)

Ex. : to be green with jealousy

Red revolution

3) Idioms

Idioms are also collocations, because they consist of several words that tend to be used together, but the difference — we can’t guess the meaning of the whole idiom from the meanings of its parts.

This criterion is called the degree of semantic isolation. In different types of idioms — it is different.

Ex. : to cry a blue murder = to complain loudly

1. 2 Classification of the phraseological units

Many various lines of approach have been used, and yet the boundaries of the set, its classifications and the place of phraseology in the vocabulary appear controvversial issues of present day linguistics.

The English and the Americans can be proud of a very rich set of dictionaries of word groups and idiomatic phrases. Their object is chiefly practical: colloquial phrases are considered an important characteristic feature of natural spoken English and stumbling block for foreigners. The choice of entries is not clear: some dictionaries of this kind include among their entries not only word combinations but also separate words interesting from the point of view of their etymology, motivation, or expressiveness, and, on the other hand, also greetings, proverbs, familiar quotations. Other dictionaries include grammatical information. The most essential theoretical problems remain not only unsolved but untackled except in some works on general linguistics. A more or less detailed grouping was given in the books on English idioms by L.P. Smith and W. Ball. But even the authors themselves do not claim their groupings should be regarded as classification. They show interest in the origin and etymology of the phrases from sea life, from agriculture, from sports, from hunting, etc.

The question of classification of phraseological units is mainly worked out in this country. Russian linguists, Academicians F.F. Fortunatov, A.A. Shakhmatov and others paved the way for serious syntactical analysis of phraseological units.

Many scholars have shown a great interest in the theoretical aspects of the problem.

A special branch of linguistics termed phraseology came into being in its country. The most significant theories advanced for Russian phraseology are those are those by S.A. Larin and V.V. Vinogradov. As to the English language, the number of works of our linguistics devoted to phraseology is so great that it is impossible to enumerate them; suffice it to say that there are exist a comprehensive dictionary of English phraseology complid by A.V. Koonin. This dictionary sustained several editions and contains extensive bibliography and articles on some most important problems. The first doctoral thesis on this subject was by N.N. Amasova (1963) «Основы английской фразеологии». -Л.: ЛГУ, 196 стр 112, then came the doctoral thesis by A.V. Koonin «Курс фразеологии современного англиского языка» — М., 1986, стр 91. The results were published in monographs. Prof. A.L. Smirnitskiy also devoted attention to this aspect in his book on lexicology. He considers a phraseological units to be similar to the word because of the idiomatic relationships between its parts resulting in semantic unity and permitting its introduction into speech as something complete.

The influence his classification exercised is much smaller than that of V.V. Vinogradov’s. the classification of V.V. Vinogradov is synchronic. He developed some points forst advanced by the Swiss linguistics Charles bally and gave a strong impetus to a purely lexicological treatment of the material. Thanks to him phraseological units were rigorousky defined as lexical complexes with specific semantic features and classified accordingly. His classification is based upon the motivation of the unit, i.e. the relationship existing between the meaning of the whole and the meaning of its component parts. The degree of motivation is correlated with the rigidity, indivisibility and semantic unity of the expression, and of substituting the whole by a single word. The classification is naturally developed for russian phraseology but we shall illustrate it with English examples. According to the type of motivation and the other above-mentioned features, three types of phraseological units are suggested:

1) Phraseological fusions (e.g. tit for tat ) represent as their name suggests the highest stage of blending together. The meaning of components is completely absorbed by the meaning of the whole, by its expressiveness and emotional properties. Phraseological fusions are specific for every language anddo not lend themselves to literal translation into other language.

2) Phraseological unities are much more numerous. They are clearly motivated. The emotional quality is based upon the image created by the whole as in stick (to standfor) to one’s guns, to e.g. `refuse to change one’s statements or opiniopns in the face of opposition', implying courage and integrity. The example reveals another characteristic of the type, namely the possibility of synonymic substitution, which can be only very limited. Some of these are eaily translated an even international, e.g. to know the way the wind is blowing.

3) Phraseological components are not only motivated but contain one component used in its direct meaning while the other is used figuratively: meet the demand, meet the necessity, meet the requirements. The mobility of this type in much greater, the substitutions are necessarily synonymical. It has been pointed out by N. Asomova «Основы англиской фразеологии». -Л.: ЛГУ. 1963. стр 102 and A. V. Koonin «Курс фразеологии соиременого английского языка» — М. 1986. стр 115 that hits classification, being developed for the Russian phraselogy, does not fit the specifically English features.

N.N. Asomova’s approach is contextogical. She defines phraseological units of fixed context. Fixed context is defined as a context characterized by a specific and unchanging sequence of definite lexical components, and a peculiar semantic relationship between them. Units of fixed are subdivided into phrasemes and idioms. Phrasemes are always binary: one component has a phraseologically bound meaning the other serves as the determining context (small talk, small hours, small change). In idioms the new meaning created by the whole, though every element may have its original meaning weakened or even completely lost: in the nick of time’at the exact moment. Idioms may be motivated or demotivated. A motivated idioms is homonymous to a free phrase, but this phrase is used figuratively: take the bull by the horns `to danger without fear'. In the nick of time is time demotivated, because the word nick is obsolete. Both phrasemes and idioms may be movable (changeale) or immovable.

An interesting and clear-cut modification of V.V. Vinogradov’s scheme was suggested by the T.V. Stroyeva for the German language. She devides the whole bulk of phraseological units into two classes: unities and combinations.

Phraseological funсtion does not constitute a separate class but are included into unites, because the criterion of motivations and demotivation is different speakers, dependent on extra-linguistic factors, i.e. the history of the people and its culture.

There may occur in speech homonymous free phrases, very different in meaning.

The form and structure of a phraseological unity is rigid and unchangable. Its stability is often supported by the rhyme, synonymy, parallel construction, etc. Phraseological combinations, on the contrary, reveal a change of meaning only in of the components and this semantic shift does not result in expressiveness. A.V. Koonin is interested both in discussing fundamentals and in investigating special problems. His books, and especially the dictionary he compiled and also the dissertation of this numerous pupils are particularly useful as they provide an up-to — date survey of the entire field. A.V. Koonin Кожина М. Н. Стилистика русского языка. -М. 1983 thinks that phraseology must develop as an independent linguistic science and not as a part of lexicology. His classification of phraseological units is based on the functions the units fulfil in speech. They may be nominating (a bull in a china shop), interjectional (a pretty kettle of fish), communicative (familiarity breeds contempt), or nominating-communicative (pull somebody’s leg). Further classifications into subclasses depends on whether the units are changeable or unchangeable, whether the meaning of the one element remains free, and, more generally, on the independence between the meaning of the elements and the meaning of the set expression. Much attention is devoted to different types of variation: synonymic, pronominal, etc. After this brief review of possible semantic classification, we pass on to formal and functional classification based on the fact a set expression functioning in speech is in distribution similar to definite classes of words, whereas structurally it can be identified with various types of sintagms or with complete sentences.

We shall distinguish set expressions that are:

nominal phrases: the root of trouble;

verbal phrases: put one’s best foot forward;

adjectival phrases: as good as gold; red as cherry adverbial phrases: from head to foot;

prepositional phrases: in the course of;

conjunctional phrases: as long as, on the other hand;

interjectional phrases: Well, I never!

A stereotyped sentence also introduced into speech as a ready-made formula may be illustrated by Never say die! `never give up hope', take your time' do not hurry'. The above classification takes into consideration not only the type of component parts but also the functioning the whole, thus, tooth and nail is not a nominal but an adverbial unit, because it serves to modify a verb (e.g. fight tooth and nail); the identically structured lord and master is a nominal phrase. Moreover, not every nominal phrase is used in all syntactic functions possible for nouns. Thus, a bed of roses or a bed nails and for learn hope are used only predicatively. Within each of these classes a further subdivision is necessary. The following list is not meant to be exhaustive, but to give only principal features of the types. I.

Set expressions functioning like nouns:

N + N: maiden name `the surname of a woman before she was married'; Brains truts `a committee of experts' or `a number of reputedly well informed persons choose to answer questions of general interst without preparation'; family jewels `shameful secrets of the CIA' American slang.

N’s+N: cat’s paw `one who is used for the convenience of a cleverer and stronger person' (the expressions comes from a fumble in which a monkey wanting to eat some chestnuts they were on a hot stove, but not wishing to burn himself while getting them, seized a cat and holding its paw in his own used it to knock the chestnuts to the ground)

Hobson’s choice, a set expression used there is no choice at all, when a person to take what is offered or nothing (Thomas Hobson, a 17th century London stableman, made every person hiring horses take the next in order).

Ns+N: ladies' man' one who likes special effort to charm or please woman'.

N+prp+N: the arm of the law;

skeleton in the cupboard;

N+A: knight errant (the phrase is today applied to any chivalrous man ready to helped and protect oppressed and helpess people).

N+and+N: lord and master `husband';

all the world and his wife (a more complicated form);

rank and file `the primary working members of an organization' (the origin of this expression is military lifr, it denotes common soldiers); ways and means `methods of overcoming difficulties'.

A + N: green room’the general reception room of a theatre (it is said formerly such rooms had their walls colored green to relieve the strain on the strain on the actors' eyes after the tea': forty winks `a short nap'.

N+subordinate clause: ships that pass in the night `chance acquaintances'.

II. set expressions functioning like verbs:

V+N: take advantage;

V+and +V: puck and choose;

V + (one's) +N+(prp): snap one’s fingers at;

V+one +N give one the bird 'to fire sb';

V+ subordinate clause: see how the land lies `to discover the state of affairs'.

III. Set expressions functioning like adjectives

A+and + A: high and mighty:

(as) + as + N as old as the hills, as mad as a hatter. Set expressions are often

used as predicative but not attributively. In the latter function they are replaced

by compounds.

IV. Set expressions functioning like adverbs;

A big group containing many different types of units, some of them with a high frequency index, neutral in style and devoid of expressiveness, others expressive.

N+N; tooth and nail;

prp+N : by heart of course, against the grain;

adv+prp+N: once in a blue moon;

prp+N+or+N: by hook or by crook;

cj+clause: before one can say Jaxk Robinson.

V. Set expressions functioning like prepositions:

prp+N+prp: in consequence of.

It should be noted that the tyre is often but not always characterized by the

absence of article. C f: by reason of, on the ground of.

VI. Set expressions functioning like interjections:

These are often structured as imperative sentences:

Bless (one's) soul! Hang it (all)!

This review can only be brief and very general but it will not be difficult for the reader to supply the missing links. The list of types gives a clear notion of the contradictory nature of set expressions: structured like phrases they function like words.

There is one more type of combinations, also rigid and introduced into discourse ready- made but differing 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 the British Keep Britain tidy. Take it easy.

A.I. Smirnitsky was the first among scholars who paid attention to sentences that can be treated as complete formulas, such as How do you do? or I beg your pardon, It takes all kinds to make the world, Can the leopard change his sports? They differ from all the combinations so far dicussed, because they are not equivalent to words in dictribution and are semantically analyzable. The formulas discussed by N.N. Amosova «Основы английской фразеологии ». -Л. ЛГУ, 1963, стр. 94 are on the contrary semantically specific, e.g. save your breath `shut up' or tell it to the marines. As it often happens with set expressions, there are different explanations for their origin. (One of the suggested origins is tell that to the horse marines; such a corps being nonexistent, as marines are a sea going force, the last expression means `tell it to someone who does not exist, because real 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 cap fits. «) Compare also:

Butter would not melt if his mouth; His bark is worth than his bite.

There is a pressing need for criteria distinguishing set expressions not only from free phrases but from compound words as well. One of these criteria is the formal integrity of words which had been repeatedly mentioned and may be best illustrated by an example with the word breakfast borrowed from W.K. Graff. His approach combines contextual analysis and diachronic observations. He is interested in graduations from free construction through the formula to compound and then simple word. In showing the border line between a word and a formulary expression, W.L. Graff speaks about the word breakfast a derived from the set expression to breakfast, where break was a verb with a specific meaning inherent to it only in combination with fast which means `keeping from food'. Hence it was possible to say: And knight and square had broke their fast! W. Scott. The fact that it was a phrase and not a word is clearly indicated by the conjunctional treatment of the verb and syntactical treatment of the noun. With an analytical language like English this conjunctional test is, unfortunately, not always applicable.

It would also be misleading to be guided in distinguishing between set expressions and compound words by semantic considerations, there been no rigorous criteria for differentiating between one complex notion and a combination of two or more notions. The references of component words are lost within the whole of a set expression, no less than within a compound word. What is, for instance, the difference in this respect between the set expression point of view and the compound view point? And if there is any, what are the formal criteria which can help to estimate it?

Alongside with semantic unity many authors mention the unity of syntactic function. This unity of semantic function is obvious in the predicate of the main clause in the following quotation from J. Wain which is a simple predicate, through rendered by a set expression:

…the government we had in those days, when we (Great Britain) were the world’s richest country did not give a damn whether the kids grew up with richest or not…

This syntactic unity, however, is nit specific for all set expressions.

Two types of substitution test can be useful in showing us the points of similarly and difference between the words and set expressions. In the forts procedure a whole set expression is replayed within context by a synonymous word in such a way that the meaning g of the utterance remains unchanged, e.g. he was in a brown study-he was gloomy. In the second type of substitiontest only an element of the set expression is replaced, e.g. (as) white as chalk-(as) white as milk-(as) white as snow, or it gives me the blues-it gives him the blues-it gives one the blues.

In the this second type it is the set expression that is retained, although it composition or referential meaning may change.

When applying the first type of procedure one obtains a criterion for the degree of equivalence between a set expression and a word. One more example will help to make the point clear. The set expression dead beat can be substituted by a single word exhausted. E.g. :

Dispatches sir. Delivered by a corporal of the 33rd. dead beat with hard riding, sir (Shaw).

The last sentence may be changed into Exhausted with hard riding, sir. The lines will keep their meaning and remain grammatically correct. The possibility of this substitution permits us to regard this set expression as a word equivalent. The unity of syntagmatic function is present in this case also, but the criterion equivalence to a single word cannot be applied, because substitution by a simple word is impossible. Such equivalents is therefore only relative, it is not universally applicable and cannot be accepted as a general criterion for designing these units.

The equivalence of words and set expressions should not be taken too literally but treated as a useful abstraction, only in the sense we have stated. The main point if difference between a word and a set expression is the divisibility of the latter into separately structured elements which is constructed to the structural integrity of words. Although equivalents to word in being introduced into speech ready-made, a set expression is different from them, because it can be resolved into words, whereas words are resolved into morphemes. In compound words the process of integration is more advanced. Morphological divisibility is evident when one of the elements (but not the last one as in a compound word) is subjected to morphological change. This problems has been investigated by N.N. Amosova, A.V. Koonin and others. N.N. Amosiva gives the following examples:

He played second fiddle to her in his father’s heart (Galsworthy).

…She disliked playing second fiddle (Christie).

To play second fiddle `to occupy a secondary, subordinate position".

It must be rather fun having a skeleton in the cupboard (Miline).

Hate skeletons in the cupboard (Ibid).

A.V. Koonin «Курс фразеологии современного английского языка"-М/ 1986. стр 214 shows the possibility of morphological changes in adjectives forming part of phraseological units:

He’s deader than a doornail.

It made the night blacker than pitch.

The Centerville’s have blue blood, for instances, the bluest in the England.

It goes without saying that the possibility of a morphological change cannot regularly serve as a distinctive features, because it may take place only in a limited number of set expressions (verbal or nominal).

The question of syntactic ties within a set expression is even more controversial. All the authors agree set expressions (for the most part) represent one member of the sentence, but opinions differ as to whether this means that there are no syntactical ties within set expressions themselves. Actually the number of words in a sentence is not necessarily to the number of its member.

The existence of syntactical relations within a set expression can be proved by the possibility of syntactical transformations (however limited) or inversion of elements and the substitution of the variable member, all this without destroying the set expression as such. By a variable element we mean the element of set expression which is structurally necessary but free to vary lexically. It is usually indicated in dictionaries by indefinite pronouns, often interested in round brackets:

Make (somebody's) hair stand on end `to give the greatest astonishment pr fright to another person';

Sow (one's) wild oats `to indulge in dissipation while young'.

The word in brackets can be freely substituted:

Make (my? your, her, the reader’s) hair stand on end.

The sequence of constant elements may be broken and some additional words inserted which, splitting the set expessions, do not destroy it, but establish syntactical ties with its regular elements. The examples are chiefly limited to verbal expressions, e.g. the chairman broke the ice-Ice was broken by chairman; He has burnt his boats and… -Having burnt his boats he…

Pronominal substitution is illustrated by the following examples: «Hold your tongue, Lady L. «Hold yours, my good fool» N. Marsh, quoted by Amosova.

All these facts are convincing manifestations of syntactical ties within the units in question. Containing the same elements these units can change their morphological from and syntactical structure; they may be called changeable set expressions, as contrasted to stereotyped or unchangeable set expressions, admitting no change either morphological or syntactical. The examples discussed in the previous paragraph mostly belong to this second type indivisible and unchangeable; they are nearer o a word than their more flexible counterparts.

This opposition is definitely correlated with structural properties.

All these examples proving the divisibility and variability of set expressions

Throw light on the difference between them and words.

Set expressions have their own specific features, which enhance their stability and conhesion. These are their euphonic, imaginative and connotative qualities. It has been often pointed out that many set expressions are distinctly rhythmical, contain alliteration, rhyme, imagery, contrast, are based on puns, etc. these features have always been treated from the point of view of style and expressiveness. Their cementing function is perhaps no less important.

All these qualities ensure the strongest possible contact between the elements, give them their peculiar muscular feel, so that in pronouncing something like stuff and nonsense the speaker can enjoy some release of pent-up nervous tension. Consider the following sentence:

Tommy would come back to her safe and sound O’Flaherty.

Safe and sound is somehow more reassuring that the synonyms word uninjured, which could have been used.

These euphonic and connotative qualities also prevent substitution for another purely linguistics, though not semantic, reason-any substitution would destroy the euphonic effect. Consider, for instance, the result of synonymic substitution in the above alliterative pair safe and sound. Secure and uninjured has the same denotatonal meaning but sound so dull and trivial that the phrase may be considered destroyed and one is justified in saying that safe and sound admits no substitution.

Rhythmic qualities are characteristic of almost all set expressions. They are especially marked in such pairs as far and wide, far and near `many places both near and distant; by fits and starts `irregularly'; heart and soul `with complete devotion to cause'. Rhythm is combined with reiteration in the following well-known phrases:

more and more, on and on, one by one, through and through.

Alliteration occurs in many cases:

part and parcel `an essential and necessary part';

from pillar to post; in for a penny, in for a pound; head over hills; without

rhyme or any reason; pick of the pops; a bee in one’s bonnet; the -why and —


It’s interesting to note that alliterative phrases often contain obsolete elements, not used elsewhere. In the above expressions these are main, an obsolete synonym to might, and rack, probably a variant of wreck.

As one the elements becomes obsolete and falls out of the language, demotivation may set in, and this, paradoxical through it may seem, also tends to increase the stability and constancy of a set expression. The process is completed, because the preservation of obsolete elements in set expression is in its turn assisted by all the features mentioned above. Some more examples of set expressions containing obsolete elements are: hue and cry; loud clamour about something' (a synonymic pair with the obsolete word hue); leave in the lurch `to leave in a helpless position'(with the obsolete noun lurch meaning `ambish'); not a whit `not at all' (with the obsolete word whit-a variant of Wight `creature', `thing'-not used outside this expression and meaning `the smallest thin imaginable').

Rhyme is also characteristic of set expressions:

fair and square `honest';

by hook or by crook `by any method, right or wrong' (its elements are not only

rhymed but synonymous).

High and dry was originally used about ships, meaning `out of the water, aground; at present it is mostly used figuratively in several metaphorical meanings: `isolated', `left without help', `out of date'. This capacity more feature that makes set expressions similar to words.

Semantic stylistic features contracting set expressions into unit of fixed context are simile, contrast, metaphor and synonymy. For example:

as like as two peas, as old as hills and older than the hills (simile);

from beginning to end, for love or money, more or less, sooner or later (contrast);

a lame duck, a pack of lies, arms race, to swallow the pill, in a nutshell metaphor); by leap and bounds, pround and haughty (synonymy).

A few more combinations of different features in the same phrase are:

as good as gold, as pleased as Punch, as a fiddle (alliteration, simile);

now or never, to kill or cure (alliteration and contrast).

More rarely there is an international pun:

as cross as two sticks means `very angry'.

This play upon words makes the phrase jocular. The comic effect is created by the absurdity of the combination making use of two different meanings of the word cross a and n.

For all practical purposes the boundary between set expressions and free phrases is a vague. The point that is to be kept in mind is that there are also some structural features of a set expression correlated with its invariability.

There are, of course, other cases when set expressions lose their metaphorical pictiresque ness, having preserved some fossilized words and phrases, the meaning of which is no longer correctly understood. Fpr instance, the expression buy a pig in a poke may be still used, although poke `bag' (c.f. pouch, pocket) does not occur in other contexts. Expression taken from obsolete sport and occurpations may survive in their new figurative meaning. in these cases the euphonic qualities of the expression are even more important. A muscular and irreducible phrase is also memorable. The muscular feeling is of special importance in slogans and battle cries. Saint George and Dragon for Merrie England, the medieval battle cry, was a rhythmic unit to which a man on a horse could swing his sword. The modern Schollarship not battleship! Can be conveniently scanned by a marching crowd.

To sum up, the memorable ness of a set expressions, as well as its unity, is assisted by various factors within expression such as rhythm, rhythmic, alliteration, imagery and even the muscular feeling one gets when pronouncing them.

Semantic classification:

The degree of semantic isolation

The degree of disinformation

1. Opaque in meaning (трудный для понимания) the meaning of the individual words can’t be summed together to produce the meaning of the whole.

Ex.: to kick the bucket = to die

It contains no clue to the idiomatic meaning of this expression

The degree of semantic isolation is the highest. => phraseological fusions

2. Semi-opaque one component preserves its direct meaning

Ex.: to pass the buck = to pass responsibility — свалить ответственность

=> phraseological unities

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