ТОП 10:

Объем и границы фразеологии. Предмет Ф.

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», V.Collins «A Book of English Idioms» 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.


In order to define a phraseological unit we have to use the criteria of structural and semantic stability.

We shall analyze two contexts with the word combination “to carry coals to Newcastle”

EG: 1) Why are you taking this book with you?

I have it at home. It is carrying coals to Newcastle.

2) The ship is carrying coals to Newcastle

In the second context “to carry…” is a free word combination. Each of the words is used in direct meaning.

The first example is more difficult, because the meaning of the “coal” is new: to take smth to a place, where it is not needing. In other words, the meanings of the components is changed.

We have used the semantic criteria. In phraseological units, words lose their semantic independents and phraseological units are not created in speech. They exist in the system of the lang., they are ready to be used in speech.

In this sense of semantic cohesion, phraseological units are very much words. EG: И оглянуться не успеешь = скоро; to cut smb dead = to ignore smb.

In free word combinations don’t loose the semantic independence and free word combinations are created in speech.

According to the second criterion the structural one, words can’t be replaced or changed in a phraseological unit according to our wish, EG: if we say “to carry corles to London” it won’t a phraseological unit.

So, a phraseological unit may be defined as a stable word combination with a completely ar partially transferred meaning.

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.


Principles of classification of phraseological units.

There are several classification of phraseological units. One of them was worked out by acad. Vinogradov. This classification is based on the semantic principle, that is on the degree of the semantic cohesion of the elements.

There are three groups in his classification:

1) Phraseological combination (сочетания) They are very close to free word combinations as they have one of the words used in its direct meaning. EG: to break a promise – нарушить обещание “to break” is used in transferred meaning, “promise” is used in direct meaning.

This word combination are motivated, there combinability is limited.

EG: we can say in English: to set smb free – освободить кого-либо

but we can’t say: to set smb. at freedom – выпустить на свободу.

2) Phraseological Unities EG: to skate of thin ice – рисковать; to sit on the fence – выжидать; a big bug – важная шишка.

In such phrasiological unitie the meaning of the whole is not the sum of the direct manings of the components, but it is the meaning, that understood from the transformed (change) meaning of the compounents. The metaphors is clear.

3) Fusions (сращения) EG: to be at sixes and sevens – быть в беспорядке, в разбросе; a fish story – выдумка.

Such phraseological units have completely transferd meaning. They are not motivated and the metaphor on which the changed of meaning is waste is not clear. EG: there was a time when sum of the fusion were motivated; to cut off with a shilling – лишить наследства.

Prof. Smirnickiy offered another classification system. In it he tried to combine the structural and the semantic principles. Phraseological units are grouped according to their semantics.

There are two groups in this classification:

1.) one-summit (одновершинные) phras. units, which have one meaningful element. EG to give up – отказаться; to make out – разобрать; to pull out – вытаскивать.

Nowdays, Russian linguist don’t refer such word combination to phraseological units. They are called set-phrases

2.) two-summit and multi-summit, which have 2 or more meaningfull elements. EG: first night – премьера;

In this classification its interesting to see the correlation of the syntetic and semantic center of the combination.

EG: to give (syntactic center) up (semantic center)



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) Most productive in Modern English is the formation of phraseological units by means of transferring the meaning of terminological word-groups, e.g. in cosmic technique we can point out the following phrases: «launching pad» in its terminological meaning is «стартовая площадка» , in its transferred meaning - «отправной пункт», «to link up» - «cтыковаться, стыковать космические корабли» in its tranformed meaning it means -«знакомиться»;

b) a large group of phraseological units was formed from free word groups by transforming their meaning, e.g. «granny farm» - «пансионат для престарелых», «Troyan horse» - «компьюторная программа, преднамеренно составленная для повреждения компьютера»;

c) phraseological units can be formed by means of alliteration , e.g. «a sad sack» - «несчастный случай», «culture vulture» - «человек, интересующийся искусством», «fudge and nudge» - «уклончивость».

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» - «испытывать волнение», «to have green fingers» - »преуспевать как садовод-любитель» 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 f eet»;

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 «ошибаться».

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.

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