Characteristic features of Phraseological units (the origin, classification)


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».


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 «стартоваяплощадка» , in its transferred meaning - «отправнойпункт», «to link up» - «cстыковаться, стыковатькосмическиекорабли» in its transformed 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» - «пансионатдляпрестарелых», «Troyan horse» - «компьютернаяпрограмма, преднамеренносоставленнаядляповреждениякомпьютера»;

c) phraseological units can be formed by means of alliteration , e.g. «a sad sack» - «несчастныйслучай», «culture vulture» - «человек, интересующийсяискусством», «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» - «испытыватьволнение», «to have green fingers» - »преуспеватькаксадовод-любитель» etc.

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



Phraseological units can be classified according to the degree of motivation of their meaning. This classification was suggested by acad. V.V. Vinogradov for Russian phraseological units. He pointed out three types of phraseological units:

According to the degree of idiomaticity phraseological units can be classified into three big groups: phraseological fusions (сращения), phraseological unities (единства) and phraseological collocations (сочетания).


The consideration of the origin of phraseological units contributes to a better understanding of phraseological meaning. According to their origin all phraseological units may be divided into two big groups: native and borrowed.

The main sources of borrowed phraseological units are: 1) the Holy Script, 2) ancient legends and myths belonging to different religious or

cultural traditions, 3) facts and events of the world history, 4) variants of the English language, 5) other languages (classical and modern),


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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Synonyms and antonyms



Synonyms — are two or more words belonging to the same part of speech and possessing one or more identical or nearly identical denotational meanings, interchangeable in some context.

Look — to stare, to gaze, to glance, to peep.

Pretty — good — looking, handsome, beautiful.

Each group comprises a dominant element.

Synonymic dominant — is the most general term of its kind potentially containing the specific features rendered by all the other members of the group.

Types of synonyms:

• Ideographic — synonyms which differ in the denotational component of meaning i.e. between which a semantic difference is statable.

• Stylistic — which differ in the connotational component of meaning, i.e. all kinds of emotional, expressive and evaluative overtones.

• Absolute— which can each other in any given context, without the slightest alteration in denotative or emotional meaning and connotations.

• Contextual — are synonyms which are similar in meaning only under some specific distributional conditions.

• Dominant — the notion common to all synonyms of the group without contributing any additional information as to the manner, intensy, duration or any attending feature of the referent.


The sources of synonyms: borrowings, shift of meaning, dialectical words, compounds, shortenings, conversion, euphemisms.

Antonyms — words of the same category of parts of speech which have contrasting meanings such as hat — cold, light — dark, happiness — sorrow.

Morphological classification:

• ? Root words form absolute antonyms.(write— wrong).

• ? The presence of negative affixes creates — derivational antonyms(happy — unhappy).

Semantical classification:

• ? Contradictory notionsare mutually opposed and denying one another, i.e. alive means «not dead» and impatient means «not patient».

• ? Contrary notions are also mutually opposed but they are gradable; e.g. old and young are the most distant elements of a series like: old — middle — aged — young.

• ? Incompatibles semantic relations of incompatibility exist among the antonyms with the common component of meaning and may be described as the relations of exclusion but not of contradiction: to say «morning» is to say «not afternoon, not evening, not night».


Читайте также:
Задачи и функции аптечной организации: Аптеки классифицируют на обслуживающие население; они могут быть...
Этапы развития человечества: В последние годы определенную известность приобрели попытки...
Историческое сочинение по периоду истории с 1019-1054 г.: Все эти процессы связаны с деятельностью таких личностей, как...
Образование Киргизкой (Казахской) АССР: Предметом изучения Современной истории Казахстана являются ...

Рекомендуемые страницы:

Вам нужно быстро и легко написать вашу работу? Тогда вам сюда...

Поиск по сайту

Все права принадлежать их авторам. Данный сайт не претендует на авторства, а предоставляет бесплатное использование.
Дата создания страницы: 2017-12-12 Нарушение авторских прав и Нарушение персональных данных

Поиск по сайту:

Мы поможем в написании ваших работ!
Обратная связь
0.01 с.