CHAPTER TWO SEMANTICS AND STRUCTURE OF VERBAL PHRASEOLOGICAL UNITS The subject matter of our graduation paper is semantics and structure of verbal phraseological units . The English language is extremely rich in verbal phraseological units due to their grammatical features and the diversity of their structural types. It is known that the verb is endowed with the richest grammatical categories in the system of the parts of speech. The same grammatical features pass from the verb to verbal idioms. Becoming a component of an idiom, the verb endows its idiom with its grammatical and functional characteristic features.
The classification system of phraseological units suggested by Professor A. V. Koonin is the latest outstanding achievement in the Russian theory of phraseology. The classification is based on the combined structural – semantic principle and it also considers the quotient of stability of phraseological units ( ????????? ?. ?. , ?????????? ?. ?. , ???????? ?. ?. , ???????????? ??????????? ?????, 2008 ). Phraseological units are subdivided into the following four classes according to their function in communication determined by their structural – semantic characteristics. 1.
Nominative phraseological units are represented by word – groups, including the ones with one meaningful word, and coordinative phrases of the type wear and tear. The first class also includes word- groups with a predicative structure, such as the crow flies, and, also, predicative phrases of the type see how the land lies, ships that pass in the night. 2. Nominative – communicative phraseological units include word- groups of the type to break the ice - the ice is broken, verbal word- groups which are transformed into a sentence when the verb is used in the Passive Voice. 3.
Phraseological units which are neither nominative nor communicative include interjectional word- groups. 4. Communicative phraseological units are represented by proverbs and sayings. Thus, verbal idioms belong to the class of nominative and nominative – communicative phraseological units, due to the fact that some of them are word – combinations, while others can be both word –combinations and sentences. Word- groups may be generally described through the pattern of arrangement of the constituent members. The term “ syntactic structure “ implies the description of the order and arrangement of member – words as parts of speech.
We may, for instance, describe the word – group as made up of an Adjective and a Noun ( clever man, red flower, etc. ), a Verb – a Noun ( take books, build houses , etc. ) , or a Noun, a Preposition and a Noun ( a touch of colour, a matter of importance, etc. ). The syntactic structure of the nominal groups “ clever man” and “ red flower” may be represented as A+ N, that of the verbal groups “ take books” and “ build houses” as V+ N. These formulas can be used to describe all the possible structures of English word – groups. We can say , e. . , that the verbal groups comprise the following structural formulas: V+N ( to build houses), V+ prp +N ( to rely on somebody ), V+ N+ prp +N (to hold something against somebody ), V+N+V ( to make somebody work), V+V (to get to know ). The structure of word-groups may be also described in relation to the head – word, e. g. the structure of the same verbal groups ( to build houses, to rely on somebody ) is represented as to build +N, to rely +on +N. In this case it is usual to speak of the patterns of word – groups but not of formulas.
The term “ pattern “ implies that we are speaking of the structure of the word – group in which a given word is used as its head. The interdependence of the pattern and meaning of head – words can be easily perceived by comparing word – groups of different patterns in which the same head-word is used. For example, in verbal groups the head – word mean is semantically different in the patterns mean +iV ( mean something ) and mean + V ( inf. ) ( mean to do something). Three patterns with the verb get as the head – word represent three different meanings of this verb, e. g. get +N ( get a letter, information, money, etc. , get +to +N( get to London, to the Institute, etc. ) , get + N+V (inf. ) (get somebody to come, to do the work ). Broadly speaking we may conclude that as a rule the difference in the meaning of the head – word is conditioned by a difference in the pattern of the word – group in which this word is used. In the same way as we speak of word patterns, the structure of phraseological units is also based on certain patterns. We are going to focus on verbal phraseological units which compared to free word –groups discussed above have structural stability, semantic unity and figurativeness.
The structure of the English phraseological units is much more variegated. Within English verbal idioms the following syntactical relations are observed: 1. Verb + direct object 1) To beat the air – to do nothing 2) To crack the whip – Coll. To use one’s power or influence over other people in a vigorous or severe manner; be in control 3) To ride the storm – to control or deal with a situation of great disorder or violence 4) To bell the cat – Coll, rather old- fash . To take a risk or do something that is dangerous, esp. for the good of others 5) To give the chop – Coll. To dismiss someone from his job ; to destroy a plan, idea 2.
Verb + prepositional object 1) To clutch at a straw – Coll. To be willing to try anything to get out of a dangerous, difficult situation 2) To strain at a gnat – Not fml. To trouble oneself about a matter of no importance 3) To cut with a knife - Not fml. To be able to feel the emotions and opinions of the people in a room, esp. when these are unpleasant 4) To play with fire – Not fml. To take risks, esp. when these are foolish and unnecessary 5) To fall on deaf ears – to be or remain unnoticed or disregarded 3. Verb + direct object + prepositional object 1) To kill two birds with one stone – to fulfill two purposes with one action ) To keep the wolf from the door – Coll. Often humor. To prevent hunger 3) To put the kibosh on – Coll. To spoil or prevent a plan from happening or being successful 4) To get a kick from – Coll. To get a feeling of pleasure, excitement, or enjoyment from 5) To get one’s hands on –Not fml. To get hold of something or someone violently; seize 4. Verb + indirect object + direct object 1) To give his head – Not fml. To allow someone do what he wants 2) To give her the gun – Coll. To increase speed when driving a vehicle, esp. a car 3) To show a clean pair of heels – Not fml. To run away as fast as possible from someone or something ) To do justice – to show the true value of a person or thing; treat a person or thing as he /it deserves 5. Verb + adverb 1) To sweep under the carpet – Not fml. To hide or forget something shameful, unpleasant 2) To drive into a corner – Not fml. To put a person into a difficult or awkward situation 3) To throw down the gauntlet – to invite someone to fight, argue, defend himself or his opinions 4) To sit on one’s hands – Not fml. To do nothing; be inactive 6. Verb + object + adverb 1) To build castles in the air – to have dreams, hopes, or desires that are unlikely to become reality ) To have a finger in every pie – Not fml. To be concerned in some way with a large number of different plans, arrangements at the same time 3) To keep one’s finger on the pulse – Coll. To know exactly what is happening in an organization, society, etc. 4) To have one foot in the grave – Coll, often humor. To be very old or ill; be near death 5) To have a frog in one’s throat – Not fml. To be unable to speak clearly because one needs to cough or has a sore throat From the point of view of their grammatical structure verbal idioms are divided into the following groups: ) To be functioning as a link verb and the whole unit expresses state, e. g: 1) To be on a friendly footing with somebody – to behave towards or deal with each other in a friendly way 2) To be the tops – Coll. To be the best of one’s kind; be of very high quality 3) To be between the devil and the deep sea – having two possible courses of action open to one, both of which are dangerous, unpleasant 4) To be one jump ahead of – Not fml. To foresee what a person is likely to do next or what is about to happen and be prepared for it; to keep slightly ahead of something 5) To be at loggerheads – to disagree or quarrel with someone
Idioms beginning with the verb to have also belong here, e. g: 1) To have someone’s blood on one’s hands - to be responsible for someone’s death 2) To have on one’s brain – Not fml. To be continuously thinking or worrying about something 3) To have a maggot in one’s brain – Coll. rare. To have strange ideas or desires 4) To have light fingers - Not fml. To have an ability or a tendency to steal things 5) To have a brain like a sieve – Not fml. To be unable to remember things correctly or keep information in one’s mind b) Idioms beginning with other notional verbs and the whole unit expresses action, e. g: ) To gain ground - to advance, make progress; become more important or powerful 2) To lead a charmed life - Not fml. To have continuous good fortune in avoiding accidents or harm 3) To hit the hay – Coll, To lie down to sleep; go to bed 4) To make a clean breast of smth. – Not fml. To admit to something Verbal phraseological units may be classified in accordance with their structure into : a) One – summit phraseological units They are composed of a notional and a form word , and have one semantic centre , such as : 1) To ask for it - Coll. To behave in a way that causes trouble, anger, etc. , esp. hat causes another person to be violent 2) To come it over - Coll. To show by one’s behavior that one believes oneself to be better than someone 3) To have it in for - Coll. To be determined to cause harm or injury to a person, organization, etc. 4) To jump to it - Coll. To show immediate and rapid willingness, e. g. to obey an order or request b) Many summit phraseological units They are composed of two or more notional words and form words ,and have two or more semantic centres , such as : 1) To take the bull by the horns - Coll. To deal with something difficult boldly or without delay 2) To ill the goose that laid the golden eggs - to destroy the chief cause of one’s profit or success 3) To know on which side one’s bread is buttered - Coll. To know what to do in order to be liked or approved of by the people in power 4) To have a millstone round one’s neck – to cause much and continuous trouble to someone 5) To get hold of the wrong end of the stick - Coll. To misunderstand something completely Academician V. V. Vinogradov spoke of the semantic change in phraseological units as “ a meaning resulting from a peculiar chemical combination of words”.
This seems a very apt comparison because in both cases between which the parallel is drawn an entirely new quality comes into existence ( ????????? ?. ?. , ?????????? ?. ?. , ???????? ?. ?. , ???????????? ??????????? ?????, 2008 ). The factors accounting for semantic changes may be subdivided into two groups: Linguistic and Extra-linguistic causes . By extra – linguistic causes we mean various changes in the life of speech community, changes in economic and social structure, changes of ideas, scientific concepts, way of life and other spheres of human activities as reflected in word meanings.
Although objects, concepts, etc. change in the course of time , yet in many cases the words which denote them are retained, but the meaning of such words is changed. E. g: The phraseological unit “ blow one’s own trumpet – Coll. To praise one’s own ambitions “ arose from the fact that in medieval times heralds welcomed the sound of the trumpet of the knights, coming into the competition. When the social practice had disappeared and the phrase was reinterpreted, the communication between the meaning of the phraseological unit and the literal meanings of its components disrupted.
Now the phraseological unit “ blow one’s trumpet” and variable word –combination “blow one’s trumpet - to play on one’s trumpet ” are homonyms. Another phraseological unit is “show the white feather – Not fml,( becoming rare) to reveal one’s fear or cowardly feelings. Referring to a cock ( a male chicken) that has been bred for fighting as a sport. If the chicken had any white feathers, it was thought to be badly bred. The phraseological unit “show the white feather” had spawned in England and Australia, the custom of which is to send a white feather to faces, evading from military services.
There are phrasal verbs specific to the English language ,e. g: 1) Give up – to leave ; abandon 2) Let on – to pretend; to tattle. With regard to the nature of these verbal complexes, opinions of linguists differ. They called them compound verbs, verbs with a postposition, postpositive verb with a prefix. These verbs in the English language are usually called phrasal verbs. Recently, a successful term post-verbs has appeared for the second component of these formulations. What is a post-verb? It cannot be a preposition, as it is used only in the verbal complex, and unlike the preposition it is always under the stress.
It cannot be an adverb , as it is not marked as a part of the sentence. Consequently, it cannot be a prepositional adverb. To understand the nature of a post-verb , we should mention Smirnitsky’s important statement, that post-verbs are words, as it combines with verbal components, having a paradigm of changing words. Thus, all verbal complexes “ give in, give up, let on , take in ” and so on, are stable phrases. The semantic shift affecting phraseological units does not consist in a mere change of meanings of each separate constituent part of the unit.
The meanings of the constituents merge to produce an entirely new meaning : e. g. to have a bee in one’s bonnet means “ to have an obsession about something; to be eccentric or even a little mad “. The humorous metaphoric comparison with a person who distracted by a bee continually buzzing under his cap has become erased and half-forgotten, and the speakers using the expression hardly think of bees or bonnets but accept it in its transferred sense : “ obsessed, eccentric “. That is what is meant when phrasological units are said to be characterized by semantic unity.
It is this feature that makes phraseological units similar to words : both words and phraseological units possess semantic unity. Most Russian scholars today accept the semantic criterion of distinguishing phraseological units from free word – groups as the major one and base their research work in the field of phraseology on the definition of a phraseological unit offered by Professor A. V. Koonin: “A phraseological unit is a stable word – group characterized by a completely or partially transferred meaning. ” The definition clearly suggests that the degree of semantic change in a phraseological unit may vary.
In actual fact the semantic change may affect either the whole word – group or only one of its components. Thus, according to the semantic structure , verbal idioms are divided into two groups: a) idioms with completely transferred meaning, e. g: 1) To skate on the ice – Coll. To do something dangerous 2) To wear one’s heart on one’s sleeve – Not fml. To allow other people to know what one is feeling; show one’s emotions 3) To have one’s heart in one’s boots – Coll. To feel discouraged or fearful 4) To have one’s heart in one’s mouth - To feel afraid or anxious, e. . when waiting for something to happen 5) To make a mountain out of a molehill – to worry about or become excited about matters that are not really important at all b) idioms with partially transferred meaning in which one of the components preserves its current meaning, the other is used in a transferred meaning, e. g: 1) To break new ground – to do something new, make a discovery 2) To change horses in midstream – Not fml. To change one’s opinion in middle of something, esp. to decide to support the opposite or a different side 3) To know one’s onions – Coll.
To know properly all the information, facts, etc. , concerned with one’s work; be experienced 4) To save one’s skin – Coll. To escape or help someone to escape from a danger Some of the verbal idioms are clearly hyperbolic, for example: 1) Eat out of smb’s hand – Not fml. To have ( a person) in one’s power so that he will do whatever one wishes, esp. because he admires one: Then, having had the fans eating out of his hand he admitted: “I didn’t enjoy it. I don’t consider myself in show business after just one professional act”. 2) Flog a dead horse - Coll.
To keep trying to get satisfaction from something that cannot or can no longer give it : You are flogging a dead horse by asking him to lend you money – he hasn’t even got enough for himself. The idiom refers to a person who beats a horse to make it go even though it is dead, thus to doing something that is completely useless. In many verbal hyperbolic idioms, including borrowed ones , there aren’t corresponding word – combinations and they are based not on real, but imaginary situation. Etymological research provides an opportunity to throw some light on the rigin of some idioms, and then to establish its metaphorical character. So, an idiom “give smb. the cold shoulder – to be unfriendly to someone, esp. by refusing to speak to or meet him, usually because one is angry , offended ”. Unfriendly is not related to people’s shoulder. It means to behave towards someone in a way that is not at all friendly, sometimes for reasons that this person does not understand. Metaphorical character of verbal idioms has been established by comparing the components of verbal idioms with the same words outside the idiom, e. : 1) Hitch one’s wagon to a star – Lit. To have noble or morally improving aims or desires: He was a boy from a poor family who had hitched his wagon to a star and was determined to get a good education for himself. 2) Twist round one’s little finger – Coll. To have the ability to persuade ( a person) to do exactly as one wants : She’ll have no problem getting permission to go on holiday with a friend because she can twist her father round her little finger. Metonomical transformations occur much less in verbal idioms, than metaphorical ones, e. g: 1) Get one’s hand in – Not fml.
To obtain or keep one’s skill in a particular activity by practicing it: If you are reasonably clever it won’t take you long to get your hand in at cards. 2) Make a clean breast of smth. - Not fml. To admit to something ; confess: “ Mrs. Lyons, “ said I … “ you are taking a very great responsibility and putting yourself in a very false position by not making an absolutely clean breast of all that you know”. ( Conan Doyle) . From the semantic point of view English verbal idioms may express: 1) Success, happiness, luck 2) Emotions and feelings 3) Relations between people 4) Behaviour 5) Intellect ) Death 7) Features of different phenomena Success, happiness, luck It is known that human life is not cakes and ale as a person has to meet a lot of hardships, which he has to overcome on his way to success. This idea is rendered by such verbal idioms as: 1) To carry the day – Rather rhet. To win in a competition, argument, etc. ; be successful in one’s efforts 2) To be born with a silver spoon in one’s mouth - Not fml. To have wealthy parents; be born into a rich family 3) To kill two birds with one stone – to fulfill two purposes with one action 4) To set the Thames on fire – Not fml.
To do something wonderful that causes much excitement and gains a wide reputation 5) To gain ground - to advance, make progress; become more important or powerful Emotions, feelings 1) To jump out of one’s skin - Coll. To show or have feelings of great shock, fear, or surprise , esp. by moving very suddenly 2) To hang one’s hand - to feel ashamed about something; feel or look guilty, sorry 3) To take it on the chin – ?oll. To suffer ( a misfortune , disappointment) with courage 4) To break smb’s heart – to make or become very sad 5) To have butterflies in one’s stomach – Coll. To feel nervous, anxious, etc. , esp. hen waiting for something Relations between people 1) To be on a friendly footing with somebody – to behave towards or deal with each other in a friendly way 2) To greet somebody with open arms – Not fml. To welcome somebody in a generous way 3) To give somebody the cold shoulder - Coll. To be unfriendly to someone, esp. by refusing to speak to or meet him, usually because one is angry , offended ”. 4) To look down one’s nose at somebody – Not fml. To regard somebody or someone with scorn or dislike 5) To rub someone’s nose in it - Not fml. To keep on reminding someone about something he has done wrong, esp. n an unkind manner Behaviour 1) To hold one’s head high – to act proudly or bravely, in front of people, esp. when one has suffered misfortune 2) To put one’s foot down – Coll. To be firm in one’s purpose or desires , e. g. not to allow another person to do something 3) To keep one’s hair on – Coll. To keep calm; not become angry, excited, etc. 4) To keep one’s chin up – Coll. Not to show feelings of fear, sadness, etc. , when faced with disappointments, worries, or difficulties 5) To behave like a bear with a sore head – Coll. To behave impatiently, in a bad – tempered way Intellect ) To have an old head on young shoulders – Rather old–fash. To have the wisdom, judgment, etc. , that is ordinarily found only in an older and more experienced person 2) To rack one’s brains – Not fml. To think hard about something, esp. to try and work out the answer to a difficult problem 3) To have a level head - Not fml. To be calm, sensible and able to judge well, esp. in difficult situations 4) To have one’s head screwed on the right way – Not fml. To be sensible; not silly Death 1) To give up the ghost – Coll. To die ; to stop putting any effort into doing something 2) To be on one’s last legs - Coll.
About to die or to fall down from tiredness or illness 3) To go the way of all flesh- Pomp. To die 4) To be called to one’s eternal rest - Euph. To die 5) To kiss the dust - Coll. To die or become ill, or to stop making or being useful 6) To turn up one’s toes – Coll, humor. To die 7) To pay the debt of nature – Old-fash, rather rhet. To die Failure 1) To burn one’s fingers – Not fml. To suffer from something that one has done or been concerned with, esp. because one failed to consider the possible results 2) To come a cropper – Coll. To fall badly or heavily, e. . from a horse; to suffer failure or sudden misfortune 3) To be on one’s bones – to be in a difficult situation 4) To get into hot water – Coll. To fall in trouble 5) To get off on the wrong foot – Not fml. To begin something badly Risk 1) To carry( or take) one’s life in one’s hands – to risk one’s life 2) To skate on thin ice – to put oneself in a dangerous position; to take risks 3) To send to his long account - Euph, old-fash. To kill someone 4) To play with fire - Not fml. To take risks, esp. when these are foolish and unnecessary 5) To put all one’s eggs in one basket - Not fml.
To allow all one’s hopes for the future to depend on one event or person; to risk all one’s money, time, interest, etc. in one business or effort 6) To risk one’s neck – Not fml. To take a great risk in doing something Deception 1) To hand smb. a lemon – to cheat, deceive somebody 2) To throw dust in someone’s eyes - Coll. To confuse someone or take his attention away from something that one does not wish him to see or know about 3) To play cat and mouse with - Not fml. To confuse someone unintentionally; deceive someone, esp. by keeping him from realizing what is actually happening to him 4) To pull one’s leg – Coll.
To make fun of a person in a friendly way, e. g. by trying to make him believe something that is not true 5) To make a fool of smb. – Not fml. To cause oneself to appear stupid or foolish Euphemism plays an important role in the creation of idiomatic synonyms among verbal phraseological units. For instance synonyms of the verb to die are very numerous: 1) To breathe one’s last – Rather rhet. To die 2) To give up the ghost – Coll. To die 3) To join the great majority – Old-fash, euph. To die 4) To pay the debt of nature – Old-fash, rather rhet. To die 5) To turn up one’s toes – Coll, humor.
To die Another example is the synonyms of the verb to irritate, to annoy : 1) To get smb’s goat – Coll. To cause someone much annoyance 2) To make smb’s blood boil – Not fml. To cause someone to be angry 3) To rub the wrong way – Coll. To annoy or cause offence to a person According to Professor A. V. Koonin verbal idioms are divided into non-comparative and comparative idioms. Non–comparative verbal idioms are phraseological units with subordinate or coordinative structure. The number of verbal idioms with coordinative structure is very few. Their characteristic feature is the two-term structure.
In phraseology there are two types of coordinative connections: connective - coordinative and separative – coordinative connection. Connective – coordinative connection : Verbal idioms of this type are usually pairs of synonymous idioms: 1) Bill and coo – Not fml. , rather old-fash. To show love in a playful way, esp. by kissing and whispering to each other: He took his girlfriend home after the party and they stayed in the car billing and cooing for a long time before she went into her house. 2) Hum and haw – Coll. To speak without saying exactly what one means , e. g. hen one needs more time to consider a matter: He always hums and haws before taking a firm decision. Separative – coordinative connection: There are very few verbal idioms of this type. They include such idioms as: 1) Sink or swim – Not fml. To be safe , succeed, etc. , or suffer complete failure or loss: He has refused to give us any more help, and has left us to sink and swim by our own efforts. 2) Stand or fall - to be completely dependent on( a principle, the result of uncertain situation, etc. ) for one’s continued existence, good fortune, etc. : We stand or fall by our belief in free speech.
Idioms with subordinate structure can have the objective or the objective – adverbial functions. Verbal idioms, expressing objective relations, may have different structures. The simplest form is a combination of a verb with a noun. Below are given examples: 1) Eat crow – Coll. To be forced to change what one has said, admit that one was wrong , etc. , esp. in order to appear more humble: I was cheered up when a letter arrived from Luria that the situation might be smoothed over if we appeared to eat crow. ( James D. Watson) 2) Raise Cain – Coll. To make a noise or trouble, esp. y complaining or arguing: Somewhere to the left of me Sebastian and Mulcaster were raising Cain. Sebastian …. seemed in a frenzy and was pounding the door, and shouting…( Evelyn Waugh) Nouns can be used both with definite and indefinite articles: 1) Bear a cross – Not fml. To support or tolerate a heavy weight of sorrow, inconvenience, suffering, etc. : The poor woman has to bear a cross – her husband is too ill to work. 2) Drop a brick – Coll. To make a mistake, esp. to do or say something wrong or unsuitable in a particular situation: I was dismissed from my job because I had dropped a few bricks in front of some important customers.
Many verbal idioms, consisting of a noun , which have the forms of singular and plural numbers are denoted by their real phenomena. For example: 1) Keep one’s head above water – Not fml. To keep out of debt : I need 50$ this month to keep my head above water. 2) Set one’s cap at smb. – Coll, rather old- fash. To try to make ( a man) notice her, esp. in order to make him marry her: They had a chauffeur who was about 18 or 19 and undoubtedly set her cap at him and he became her boyfriend. Plural number of nouns is often used in one of the components of phraseological units.
So, the word “spurs” in an idiom” win one’s spurs – to show one’s true ability or courage for the first time; gain fame ” can be used only in the plural form, because when a man was made a knight , the king would give him not one , but a pair of golden spurs. There are several examples of verbal idioms, in which noun is used only in plural form, because they stand for the action, carried out not by one person or entity designated by them, e. g: 1) Be on pins and needles – Not fml. To be in a state of excitement and anxiety: He was on pins and needles while he was answering my questions . 2) Burn one’s fingers – Not fml.
To suffer from something that one has done or been concerned with, esp. because one failed to consider the possible results: “ Anyone who wants to leave this nice warm market , and go out into the blizzard , will get his fingers burnt. 3) Draw in one’s horns – Coll . To hold back or control one’s actions, e. g. to spend less money : And if we don’t get some extra money from somewhere we shall have to draw our horns in pretty sharply. ( Iris Murdoch) In some verbal idioms the plural number of a noun does not depend on the number of a person, carrying out the action, denoted by this idioms, it epends on the number of objects. Sometimes in idioms, where the action is carried out by several people, the plural form is not definitively established, and the idiom also occurs in the singular. This phenomenon has been observed in such idiom, as: 1) Cut off one’s nose to spite one’s face – Coll. To do something because of anger, hurt pride, etc. , that harms oneself or one’s own interests: By refusing to work they are cutting off their noses to spite their faces because the company will close down.
There are several examples of verbal idioms, in which the noun is always used only in singular form, not depending on the number of persons, carrying out the action, indicated by the phraseological unit, e. g: 1) Carry a stiff upper lip – Not fml. Refusal to complain or show emotion or fear when faced with difficulty or danger; calmness: The old general praised the boys for keeping a stiff upper lip in time of trouble. 2) Cook smb’s goose – Coll. To ruin the chances of success of a person, organization, etc. : My boyfriend has cooked his goose with me – I don’t want to see him again. ) Not to have a leg to stand on – Not fml. To have no good defence for one’s actions or opinions: After the results of the test had shown that his plan would not work, he hadn’t a leg to stand on. Several verbal idioms are used only in the negative forms: 1) Not to see a wood for the trees – not to have a clear and complete understanding of something because of the great number of small and unimportant details that demand one’s attention: The main purpose of education is too often forgotten - because of all the present arguments about different types of schools we are in danger of not seeing the wood for the trees. ) Not to know whether one is on one’s head or one’s heels – Coll. To be in a very uncertain and confused state : not to know what to do next : At the end of a Saturday morning when his shop was very busy the poor shopkeeper didn’t know whether he was on his head or his heels. There are a lot of verbal idioms in English mostly with prepositions expressing objective – adverbial relations. E. g: 1) Have a millstone round one’s neck – to cause much and continuous trouble to someone: You know how selfish your brother is – if he comes to live with us he ‘ll be a millstone round our neck. ) Beat ( knock or run) one’s head against a brick (or stone) wall – Coll. To try to do or obtain something difficult with very little hope of success: It is like knocking your head against a brick wall to try to keep the house tidy while the children are at home from school. Non – prepositional idioms of this type are very few: 1) Hold one’s head high – to act proudly or bravely, in front of people, esp. when one has suffered misfortune: I have boasted in my youth and held my head high and gone on my way careless of consequences…( Evelyn Waugh) 2) Put one’s foot down – Coll. . To be firm in one’s purpose or desires, e. g. not to allow ( another person) to do something 2. To increase speed when driving a vehicle, esp. a car: I don’t like driving fast , so I get really afraid when he puts his foot down. Alternants are pronouns – “ one, one’s, oneself, somebody, smb’s, something “ , which usually make up an idiom. Alternants can be replaced by other pronouns, nouns or word – combinations in accordance with the requirements of the speech situation.
The pronoun “ one “ is usually replaced by one of the personal pronouns in the objective case, the pronoun “ one’s “- by one of the possessive pronouns, the pronoun “ oneself “ – by one of the reflexive pronouns, the pronoun “ somebody “ – by one of the personal pronouns, a noun or a variable word – combination, the pronoun “ smb’s “ – by one of the possessive pronouns, a noun in a genitive case , the pronoun “ something “ – by a noun, a variable word – combination, or by a sentence . Below are given several examples , which illustrate different uses of alternants: ) Take one’s time – not to hurry; be slow and careful: Don’t rush . Just take your time and tell me clearly what happened. 2) Take oneself in hand - to take ( a person or thing ) under one’s control, esp. to try to make improvements: You ‘ve been very badly behaved recently. I can see I shall have to take you in hand. 3) Get smb. ’s goat – Coll. To cause someone much annoyance: The way he refuses to admit his mistakes gets my goat. 4) Give smb. the cold shoulder – Coll. To be unfriendly to someone, esp. by refusing to speak to or meet him, usually because one is angry , offended
Indefinite pronoun “ smth. “ is often replaced by a noun, a substantive word – combination or less subordinate clauses: 1) Know smth. from A to Z ( or like a palm of one’s hand) – Not fml. To know from the beginning to the end: thoroughly and completely : The teacher knew his subject from A to Z. Indefinite – personal pronoun “ one’s “ is used in the case , when the action is performed by a particular person , directed to him , for example: 1) Put one’s tail between one’s legs – Not fml. To put someone in a sad and unhappy manner.
Replacing the pronoun “ one’s “ with a pronoun “ smb’s “ in such idiom is impossible. The pronoun “ one’s” is also used in those verbal idioms, which represent the action of a particular person, directed to something, for example: 1) Play one’s cards right – Coll. To act in a correct or clever way in order to gain an advantage in a particular situation: If you play your cards right you may get an increase in pay . The pronoun “ one’s” can be used in idioms, denoting the state of a particular person or object, for example: 1) Be on one’s last legs – Coll.
To die or to fall down from tiredness or illness; ( of an organization) close to ruin; about to stop operating: Godspell was on its last legs until the influx of tourists postponed its demise until October. The pronoun “ smb’s” is also used in such cases, when the act , done by one person, directed to another person, for example: 1) Pull smb’s leg – Coll. To make fun of a person in a friendly way, e. g. by trying to make him believe something that is not true: Many people have phoned in to report seeing the kangaroo… “ We thought people were pulling our legs when they first reported seeing him, “ a police spokesman said yesterday.
Usefulness of such a distinction, especially from the lexicographic point of view , one can see from the following examples: 1) Keep one’s nose to the grindstone – Coll. To keep working, esp. hard and without a rest Keep smb’s nose to the grindstone - Coll. To make somebody work without a rest 2) Stay one’s hand – Rather old- fash. To stop or delay from taking an action Stay smb’s hand - Rather old- fash. To stop or delay someone from taking an action. Predicative verbal idioms occur not only among substantives, but also among verbal idioms. They have both completely and partially transferred meaning.
Below are given several examples of predicative verbal idioms: 1) Bite off more than one can chew – Not fml. To try to do too much or something that is too difficult: John bit off more than he could chew when he decided to have a race with the best runner in the school. There is a comparative subordinate clause . in the second part of phraseological unit. 2) Know how many beans make five, know what o’clock it is, know what is what - Not fml. To understand what the situation is or how a system works: He ‘s a man who knows what’s what in the world of business – he’s sure to get rich.
Predicative verbal idioms are not only characterized by an antecedent, expressed in one word, - know, see, strike, watch, but an antecedent expressed in a combination, - bite off more, know or see (on) which side, see or watch how (or which way). Some of above mentioned idioms have one literal meaning , as their antecedent retains its literal meaning, for example “ watch how the cat jumps” , but it can also be completely transferred , for example “ bite off more than one can chew, strike while the iron is hot”.
Thus, predicative verbal idioms are characterized by semantic complexity of two types: first is a combination of non transferred antecedent with transferred relative clause, second is a combination of both transferred antecedent and transferred relative clause. Predicative verbal idioms have a characteristic expressive – evaluative function. Morphological features of non- comparative verbal idioms: Words in phraseological units have different features compared with the same word outside a phraseological unit, e. g: Pull smb’s leg – Coll. To make fun of a person in a friendly way, e. g. y trying to make him believe smth. that is not true: Many people have phoned in to report seeing the kangaroo …” We thought people were pulling our legs when they first reported seeing him , “ a police spokesman said yesterday. The verb of this idiom is used in the following forms: Present Continuous, Present Perfect Continuous, Past Continuous, Past Perfect Continuous, Past Perfect ( Passive Voice). Undoubtedly, the above mentioned forms are the commonest . Thus, the verb in this idiom is used predominantly in several forms, while as a separate word the verb “pull” can be used in all forms.
The imperative mood is possible, but it occurs in negative forms: Don’t pull my leg. You went to the theatre (A. J. Cronin). In several verbal idioms verbs are used only in the passive voice: 1) Be gathered to one’s fathers – euph. To die 2) Be thrown on one’s beam-end – Coll. To be in a difficult situation, esp. one in which one has no money : Many organizations are on their beam ends at the moment because of a lack of public support. But there are idioms which are never used in the passive voice : 1) Make bricks without straw – Rather old – fash.
To attempt to do or make something without having the necessary materials 2) Steal a march on smb. – to gain an advantage over someone by doing something earlier than expected : The government had intended to limit the wage increases of all workers to a reasonable amount , but several trade unions stole a march on them by receiving very large increases before the new laws came into existence. Alliteration is widely used in verbal idioms. There can be repetition between two sounds and they are divided into three groups: 1) In the first and the last lexemes: 1. Burn one’s boats – Coll.
To go so far in a course of action that one cannot turn back: I changed my mind about giving up my job, but unfortunately I had burnt my boats by telling my boss that I was leaving. 2. Get smb’s goat – Coll. To cause someone much annoyance: The way he refuses to admit his mistakes gets my goat. 2) In the last two lexemes : 1. Be on one’s last legs – Coll. To die or to fall down from tiredness or illness; ( of an organization) close to ruin; about to stop operating: Godspell was on its last legs until the influx of tourists postponed its demise until October. . Put one’s best foot forward – Coll. To be firm in one’s purpose or desires, e. g. not to allow to do something: When are they going to let Matt put his foot down and bring the twins back where they belong ? 3) In the lexemes, which occupy other positions in an idiom: 1. Keep one’s cards close to one’s chest - Coll. To be very secretive; not make known one’s advantages all at once : He had to keep his cards close to his chest in order to get the best possible contract. We come across repetition of three sounds very rarely, for example: ) Cut one’s coat according to one’s cloth – Coll. To remain within the limits of what one has or what one can afford, esp. when spending money: They have had another baby; They will have very little money and will have to cut their coat according to their cloth. 2) Make a mountain out of a molehill – to worry about or become excited about matters that are not really important at all: I’m sure he’ll give you the money back when he gets paid, so there’s no need to start making mountains out of a molehills.
Comparative verbal phraseological units : The first components of comparative verbal idioms are used in their literal meaning, while other components are intensifiers and qualifiers, semantic differentiators of the first components. As comparative verbal idioms are not used in the passive voice, so they can’t be transformed into sentences, they are always phrasemes. These verbal idioms always have a subordinate structure. Comparative verbal idioms are divided into three groups from the semantic point of view: 1) Verbs of negative evaluation – hate, lie, swear ) Verbs of positive evaluation - fit, get on 3) Verbs of a neutral evaluation – drink, eat, feel, follow, sleep, speak, spread, talk, treat, work and so on. Attention should be paid to the predominance of verbs with a neutral evaluation. In verbal idioms with the verbs of positive and negative evaluation, the second component only emphasizes it: 1) Hate smb. like poison – to hate smb, very much: The general was more interested in his personal glory than in the comfort of the ordinary soldiers, and he was hated like poison by all his men. 2) Swear like a trooper – Coll, rather old-fash.
To use bad language in an unrestrained manner: He swore like a trooper when I complained about his work. 3) Fit smb. like a glove – to fit ( a person) perfectly: It was clever of you to guess my size correctly – the new coat that you bought fits me like a glove. In comparative verbal idioms a second component is expressed by animal names, names of birds, fish and real or imaginative phenomena by which the basis of comparative idioms are expressed: 1) Die like a dog – Not fml. To die in conditions of great shame, pain, etc. : They were in prison for weeks without food and then died like dogs. ) Eat like a horse – Coll. To eat a great deal: …I am underweight and worry about it… and although I eat like a horse , it doesn’t seem to help . 3) Fight like cat and dog – Coll. To quarrel or argue fiercely , esp. very often : Flood says : “ We still love each other very much . But we fight like cat and dog. There are several comparative verbal idioms which refer to people: 1) Have a head like a sieve – Not fml. To be unable to remember things correctly or keep information in one’s mind : I was introduced to her twice, but I still can’t remember her name - I’ve got a head like a sieve.
Several verbal idioms never refer to people, for example : 1) Sell like hot cakes – Coll. To be bought or taken quickly, e. g. because of being very popular or cheap: Last year she contributed 40 pointings…” They sell like absolute hot cakes if you only ask 25$. 2) Spread like wildfire – to spread from one person to another very quickly: The news of his success spread like a wildfire among all his friends. Nature of meaning of idioms, including comparative verbal idioms, may vary depending on whether it applies to one object or more than one object. So, a verbal idiom “ hate smb. like poison – to hate smb, very much. in the sentence “ She hates him like poison. ” It means that she mortally hates him, but he certainly didn’t hate her. His attitude towards her is specified in the context. Plurality of objects means mutual hatred. In all the above mentioned comparative verbal idioms , except the idioms with the verbs “ feel “ and “ look” , the second component is a lexeme. In several comparative verbal idioms , as a second component, appears not a lexeme, but a combination of lexemes, for example: 1) Fight like cat and dog – Coll. To quarrel or argue fiercely , esp. very often : Flood says : “ We still love each other very much .
But we fight like cat and dog. 2) Drop smb. or smth. like a hot potato – to get rid of something dangerous, unmanted as quickly as possible: When he found out she had no money after all he dropped her like a hot potato. 3) Go ( go off or sell) like hot cakes – Coll. To be bought or taken quickly, e. g. because of being very popular or cheap: Last year she contributed 40 pointings…” They sell like absolute hot cakes if you only ask 25$. In some cases, the connection between the first component and combination of lexemes is non - motivated , for example: 1) Fight like Kilkenny cats - Not fml.
To fight fiercely: Those two children will fight like Kilkenny cats if I leave them alone in the house. Referring to a story that some soldiers in the Irish town of Kilkenny once tied two cats together by their tails and made them fight. The fight was so fierce that all that was left of the cats was their tails. The fight lasted until the end of 19 century and led to a mutual destruction. Legend, being the basis for this expression, has been forgotten for a long time, which has created non motivation of the whole phrase in Modern English, since the expression has no meaning in literal sense.
Conclusion After analyzing semantics and structure of verbal phraseological units , we come to the following conclusions: 1) Idioms, characterized by structural stability and completely or partially transferred meaning , are widely used in the language conducting expressiveness, colour to the thought expressed. The notion of idiomaticity represented by phraseology is of special significance for linguistic survey for it appears in many structural varieties and yields certain distinct patterns – some perhaps universal, others characteristic of one specific language only . ) There is a great difference between free word- groups and idioms. It is considered to be the most controversial problem in the field of phraseology. In an idiom words are not independent. They form set-expressions, in which neither words nor the order of words can be changed. Free word-groups are formed in the process of speech according to the standards of the language, while phraseological units exist in the language side by side with separate words. In a free word-group each of its constituents preserves its denotational meaning.
In the case of phraseological units however the denotational meaning belongs to the word group as a single semantically inseparable unit. 3) The English language is extremely rich in verbal phraseological units. Verbal idioms belong to the class of nominative and nominative – communicative phraseological units, due to the fact that some of them are word – combinations, while others can be both word – combinations and sentences. Verbal idioms can have completely or partially transferred meaning and they are divided into non - comparative and comparative idioms. ) The structure of the English verbal phraseological units is variegated. Word – groups and phraseological units possess not only the lexical meaning, but also the meaning conveyed mainly by the pattern of arrangement of their constituents. Not only the order , but also the substitution of one of the elements may lead to semantic differences or to entirely different phraseological units. 5) Free word – combinations can never be polysemantic, while there are polysemantic verbal phraseological units. 6) Among verbal phraseological units there are two – top units ( ??????????) .
The grammar centre of such units is the verb , the semantic centre in many cases is the nominal component. In some units the verb is both the grammar and the semantic centre. These verbal phraseological units can be perfectly idiomatic as well. Bibliography 1. ???????? ?. ??????????? ???????? ??????????? ?????????? : ????? : ?.?. ??????????????? , 1986. 2. ???????? ?. ??????????? ???????? ??????????????????. ????? , 1973 3. ????????? ?. ????????? ????????????? ??????????. ????? , 2009. 4. ??????? ?. ?. . ?????? ?????????? ???????????. ?????????, 1963 5. ????? ?. ?. ???????????? ??????????? ?????. ??????, 2008. . ??????? ?. ?. , ?????????? ??????????. ??????, 1980 7. ??????????? ?????. ?????????? ??????????. ??????, 1983 8. ???????????? ?. ?. ???????? ? ?????????? ???????????. ??????, 1971 9. ??????? ?. ?. , ???????? ?. ?. , ?????? ?. ?. ????????? ?? ?????????? ????????????, 1974 10. ????? ?. ?. ???? ??????????? ???????????? ??????????? ?????. ??????, 1996 11. ??????? ?. ?.. ??????????? ???????????? ???????????? ?????. ??????, 1987 12. ?????????? ?. ?. ???????????? ??????????? ?????. ?????? , 1998 13. ????? ?. ?.. ??? ????? ???????????? ??????, 1966 14. Antrushina G. B. , Afanasyeva , O. V. , Morozova, N.
N. English Lexicology. Moscow, 1985 15. Arnold I. V. The English word. Moscow, 1986 16. Ginzburg R. S. , Khidekel S. S. A course in Modern English Lexicology. Moscow, 1979 17. Koonin A . English Lexicology. Moscow, 1948 18. Makkai A. Idiom structure in English. The Hague , 1972 19. Minaeva L. English Lexicology and Lexicography. Moscow, 2007 20. Palmer . F. R. Semantics. A new outline , Moscow: 1982 Dictionaries 21. ?????????? ?. , ???????? ?. ????? ????? ??????????????? ???????. ??? , 1975 22. ????? ?. ?. ????? – ??????? ???????????????? ???????. ??????, 1967 23. Longman dictionary of English idioms.
Printed by Butler and Tanner, LTD. London, 1984 24. Oxford dictionary. Oxford University Press, New York, 2007 CHAPTER ONE GENERAL OUTLINE OF PHRASEOLOGICAL UNITS ( PROBLEMS, CLASSIFICATIONS, DEFINITIONS ) Idioms have always attracted the attention of linguists, literary critics, sociologists and philosophers. Enriching the literary language, representing a bright example of purity, accuracy of content and sharpness of language, idioms are of great importance in the treasury of culture and have become of genuine interest for linguists and researchers of various spheres of communication.
If synonyms can be figuratively referred to as the tints and colours of the vocabulary, then phraseology is a kind of picture gallery in which are collected vivid and amusing sketches of the nation’s customs, traditions and prejudices, recollections of its past history, and fairy-tales. Being an inseparable part of the language, idioms have a special position within it. They represent what can probably be described as the most picturesque, colourful and expressive part of the language’s vocabulary ( ????????? ?. ?. , ?????????? ?. ?. , ???????? ?. ?. ???????????? ??????????? ?????, 2008 ).
The stock of words of the language consists not only of separate words , but also of set expressions, which alongside with separate words serve as means of expressing concepts. There exist two terms which are to denote set expressions: “idioms” and “phraseological units”. An idiom or idiomatic phrase, is often defined as a phrase, developing a meaning which cannot be readily analyzed into the several distinct ideas which would ordinarily be expressed by the words composing the phrase. It transcends the ordinary syntactical constructions and must be studied as grammatical unit, or entity ,in itself.
On the other hand, “idiom” is a very broad term and includes all the peculiarities and idiosyncrasies of the language –its peculiar syntactical constructions, and other conventional practices of unusual character. The term “idiom” is widely used by western scholars, mainly English and American linguists. N. N. Amosov? defines phraseological units as units of fixed context, i. e. phrases with a specific sequence of certain lexical components and peculiar semantic relations between them. In these terms , phraseological units are classified into phrasemes and idioms.
Phrasemes are binary phrases in which one of the components has a phraseologically bound meaning dependent on the other. Idioms as distinguished from phrasemes are characterized by integral meaning and idiomaticity of the whole word-group ( ????????? ?. ?. , ?????????? ?. ?. , ???????? ?. ?. , ???????????? ??????????? ?????, 2008 ). According to Rosemarie Glaser’s theory 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 (Glaser R. 998:125). Glaser includes both word-like and sentence-like units in the phrasicon, terming word-like units “nominations”, which designate a phenomenon , an object, an action, a process or state, a property in the outside world, and sentence-like ones “propositions”, which designate a whole state of affairs in the outside world. She further subdivides nominations into idioms and non-idioms having transparent meanings, and including technical terms, cliches, etc. ( ????????? ?. , ????????? ????????????? ?????????? , 2009 ).
Attempts have been made to approach phraseology in different ways. There is a divergence of opinions as to the nature and essential features of phraseological units, how to distinguish them from free word groups, how to define and how to classify them. This is probably the most discussed and one of the most important problems in the field of phraseology. The complexity of the problem may be largely accounted for by the fact that the borderline between free word-groups and phraseological units is not clearly defined.
The so –called free word-groups are but relatively free as collocability of 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 but comparatively stable and semantically inseparable. Between the extremes of complete motivation and variability of member-words and lack of motivation combined with complete stability of the lexical components and grammatical structure there are innumerable borderline cases. However, the existing terms, e. g. et-phrases, idioms, word-equivalents, reflect to a certain extent the main debatable issues of phraseology which centre in 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 of the lexical components and grammatical structure of word-groups. The term “idiom” generally implies that the essential feature of linguistic units under consideration is idiomaticity or lack of motivation.
This term habitually used by English and American linguists is very often treated as synonymous with the term “phraseological unit”. The term “word-equivalent” stresses not only semantic but also functional inseparability of certain word-groups, their aptness to function in speech as single words. The criterion of stability of lexical components and idiomaticity of word-groups are viewed as not necessarily coexisting in phraseological units. It is argued that stability of lexical components does not presuppose lack of motivation.
It follows that stability and idiomaticity are regarded as two different aspects of word-groups. Stability is an essential feature of set-phrases both motivated and non-motivated. Idiomaticity is a distinguishing feature of phraseological units or idioms which comprise both stable set-phrases and variable word-groups. The two features are not mutually exclusive and may be overlapping, but are not interdependent. Word-groups are structurally complex units consisting of formally separable elements, which are functionally equivalent to separate words.
So they are independent parts of the sentence. Whereas in an idiom words are not independent. They form set-expressions, in which neither words nor the order of words can be changed. Free word-groups are formed in the process of speech according to the standards of the language, while phraseological units exist in the language side by side with separate words. In a free word-group each of its constituents preserves its denotational meaning. In the case of phraseological units however the denotational meaning belongs to the word group as a single semantically inseparable unit.
It’s worth mentioning that idiom is a complex phenomenon with a number of features, which can therefore be approached from different points of view. Hence, there exist a considerable number of different classification systems devised by different scholars and based upon different principles. The oldest principle for classifying idioms is based on their original content and is known as “thematic” (this term however is not universally accepted). On this principle, idioms are classified according to their sources of origin. The word “source” refers to the particular sphere of human activity, of life, of nature.
The “thematic” principle of classifying idioms has a real merit, but it does not take into consideration the linguistic features of the idioms. The first classification system, which was based on semantic principle, was suggested by acad. V. V. Vinogradov, who developed some points first advanced by the Swiss scientist Charles Bally. Acad. V. V. Vinogradov spoke of the semantic change in idioms as a “meaning resulting from a peculiar chemical combination of words”. He described idioms as lexical complexes which cannot be freely made up in speech, but are reproduced as ready-made units.
The meaning of such expressions as distinguished from the meaning of free combinations is idiomatic. The classification is based on the motivation of the unit. According to the degree of idiomatic meaning of various groups of idioms ,V. V. Vinogradov classified them as follows ( Arnold V. , The English Word, 1986 ) : Phraseological fusions – units whose meaning cannot be deduced from the meanings of their component parts, the meaning of phraseological fusions is unmotivated at the present stage of language development. The meaning of the components is completely absorbed by the meaning of the whole.
The metaphor, on which the shift of meaning is based , has lost its clarity and is obscure. Phraseological unities – units with a completely changed meaning. They are motivated units or, putting it another way , the meaning of the whole unit can be deduced from the meanings of constituent parts. The metaphor, on which the shift of meaning is based, is clear and transparent. Phraseological combinations – traditional units which are not only motivated, but contain one component used in its direct meaning, while the other is used figuratively. Prof.
Smirnitsky considers a phraseological unit 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. He differentiated three classes of stereotyped phrases (????? ?. ?. , ???????????? ??????????? ?????, 2008 ) : 1) Traditional phrases 2) Phraseological combinations 3) Idioms Traditional phrases, which are characterized by reproducibility, are not regarded as word-equivalents. They are usual collocations whose inner form is transparent. They are distinguished as follows: 1)Verbal ) Substantive 3) Adjectival 4) Adverbial 5) Interjectional Smirnitsky’s notion of word-equivalence actually allows another perspective on phraseological units too. Namely, proceeding from the classification of words into derivatives and compounds, the linguist seeks to find similar structural and semantic features in phraseological units as well, correspondingly singling out units with one semantic centre(one summit units) on the one hand, which he compared with derived words, and with two or more semantic centres (two summit and multi-summit units), on the other, which he compared with compound words.
Each of the two groups of this structural – semantic classification is further subdivided according to the part of speech to which t