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Syntactical classification of phraseological units
Phraseological units can be clasified 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.
Set expressions functioning like nouns (noun phraseologisms): N+N: maiden name ‘the surname of a woman before she was married’; brains trust ‘a committee of experts’ or ‘a number of reputedly well – informed persons chosen to answer questions of general interest without preparation’. N’s + N: cat’s paw ‘one who is used for the convinience of a cleverer and stronger person’ (the expression comes from a fable in which a monkey wanting to eat some chestnuts that 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 when there is no choice at all, when a person has to take what is offered or nothing (Thomas Hobson, a 17th century London stableman, made every person hiring horses take the next in order). N+prep+N: the arm of the law. N+A: knight errant (the phrase is today applied to any chivalrous man ready to help and protect oppressed and helpless people). N+and+N: lord and master ‘husband’; all the world and his wife ‘everybody’; rank and file ‘the ordinary working members of an organization’( the origin of this expression is military life, 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 that formerly such rooms had their walls coloured green to relieve the strain on the actors’eyes after the stage lights); high tea ‘an evening meal which combines meat or some similar extra dish with the usual tea’. N+subordinate clause: ships that pass in the night ‘chance acquaintances’.
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.
Set expressions functioning like verbs: V+N: to take advantage; V+postpositive: to give up; V+and+V: to pick and choose; V+(one’s)+N+(prep): to snap one’s fingers at; V+one+N: to give one the bird ‘to fire smb’. V+subordinate clause: to see how the land lies ‘to discover the state of affairs’.
c) adjective phraseologisms denoting a quality, e.g. loose as a goose, dull as lead.
Set expressions functioning like adjectives: A+and+A: high and mighty (as)+A+as+N: as old as the hills, as mad as a hatter.
d) adverb phraseological units: with a bump, in the soup, like a dream , like a dog with two tails.
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, Prep+N: by heart, of course, Adv+prep+A+N: once in a blue moon, Prep+N+or+N: by hook or by crook, Conj+clause: before one can say Jack Robinson.
e) preposition phraseological units, e.g. in the course of, on the stroke of ,
Set expressions functioning like prepositions: Prep+N+prep: in consequence of. It should be noted that the type is often but not always characterized by the absence of the article e.g. by reason of – on the ground of.
f) interjection phraseological units, e.g. «Catch me!», «Well, I never!» etc.
Set expressions functioning like interjections. These are often structured as imperative sentences: Bless (one’s soul)! God bless me! Hang it (all)! Take your time!
In I.V. Arnold’s classification there are also sentence equivalents, proverbs, sayings and quotations, e.g. «The sky is the limit», «What makes him tick», » I am easy». Proverbs are usually metaphorical, e.g. «Too many cooks spoil the broth», while sayings are as a rule non-metaphorical, e.g. «Where there is a will there is a way».
5. Kunin’s classifications of phraseological units
A.V. Kunin 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» - «компьютерная 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.
The classification system of phraseological units based on the combined structural-semantic principle and the stability of phraseological units suggested by Professor A. V. Koonin is the latest out-standing achievement in the Russian theory of phraseology. Phraseological units are subdivided into the following four classes according to their function in communication determined by their structural-semantic characteristics: nominative, nominative-communicative, interjectional, communicative.
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, well and good. Nominative phraseological units are units denoting objects, phenomena, actions, states, qualities. They can be:
a) Verbal. E. g. to run for one's (dear) life, to get (win) the upper hand, to talk through one's hat, to make a song and dance about something, to sit pretty (Amer. sl.).
b)substantive – a snake in the grass (змея подколодная), a bitter pill to swallow; dog's life, cat-and-dog life, calf love, white lie, tall order, birds of a feather, birds of passage, red tape, brown study.
c) adjectival – long in the tooth (старый); high and mighty, spick and span, brand new, safe and sound. In this group the so-called comparative word-groups are particularly expressive and sometimes amusing in their unanticipated and capricious associations: (as) cool as a cucumber, (as) nervous as a cat, (as) weak as a kitten, (as) good as gold (usu. spoken about children), (as) pretty as a picture, as large as life, (as) slippery as an eel, (as) thick as thieves, (as) drunk as an owl (sl.), (as) mad as a hatter/a hare in March.
d) adverbial – out of a blue sky, as quick as a flash; high and low (as in They searched for him high and low), by hook or by crook (as in She decided that, by hook or by crook, she must marry him), for love or money (as in He came to the conclusion that a really good job couldn't be found for love or money), in cold blood (as in The crime was said to have been committed in cold blood), in the dead of night, between the devil and the deep sea (in a situation in which danger threatens whatever course of action one takes), to the bitter end (as in to fight to the bitter end), by a long chalk (as in It is not the same thing, by a long chalk).
e) prepositional – with an eye to (с намерением), at the head of.
The first class also includes word-groups with a predicative structure, such as 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 contain a verb and include word-groups of the type to break the ice – the ice is broken, that is, verbal word-groups which are transformed into a sentence when the verb is used in the Passive Voice. E.g. to dance on a volcano, to set the Thames on fire (сделать что-то необычное), to know which side one's bread is buttered, to make (someone) turn (over) in his grave, to put the hat on smb’s misery (в довершение всех его бед).
3. Interjectional phraseological units express the speaker’s emotions and attitude to things: A pretty kettle of fish! (хорошенькое дельце), Good God! God damn it! Like hell! Theyare neither nominative nor communicative and include interjectional word-groups.
4. Communicative phraseological units are represented by proverbs (An hour in the morning is worth two in the evening; Never say “never”) and sayings. Sayings, unlike provebs, are not evaluative and didactic: That’s another pair of shoes! It’s a small world.
Some linguists (N.N. Amosova, J. Casares) don’t include proverbs and sayings into their classifications. Others (I.V. Arnold, A.V. Koonin, V.V. Vinogradov) do, on the grounds that like in phraseological units their components are never changed and that phraseological units are often formed on the basis of proverbs and sayings (A drowning man will clutch at a straw → to clutch at a straw).
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