Main types of set expressions in modern English
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Set expressions The word "phraseology“ has very different meanings in this country and in Great Britain or the United States. In Soviet linguistic literature the term has come to be used for the whole ensemble of expressions where the meaning of one element is dependent on the other, irrespective of the structure and properties of the unit (V.V. Vinogradov); with other authors it denotes only such set expressions which, as distinguished from idioms, do not possess expressiveness or emotional colouring (A.I. Smirnitsky), and also vice versa: only those that are imaginative, expressive and emotional. N.N. Amosova overcomes the subjectiveness of the two last mentioned approaches when she insists on the term being applicable only to what she calls fixed context units, i.e. units in which it is impossible to substitute any of the components without changing the meaning not only of the whole unit but also of the elements that remain intact. O.S. Ahmanova has repeatedly insisted on the semantic integrity of such phrases prevailing over the structural separateness of their elements. A.V. Koonin lays stress on the structural separateness of the elements in a phraseological unit, on the change of meaning in the whole as compared with its elements taken separately and on a certain minimum stability.
Set expressions *All these authors use the same word "phraseology" to denote the branch of linguistics studying the word groups they have in mind. In English and American linguistics the situation is very different. No special branch of study exists, and the term "phraseology" is a stylistic one meaning, according to Webster's dictionary, 'mode of expression, peculiarities of diction, i.e. choice and arrangement of words and phrases characteristic of some author or some literary work. *The word "idiom" is even more polysemantic. The English use it to denote a mode of expression peculiar to a language, without differentiating between the grammatical and lexical levels. It may also mean a group of words whose meaning it is difficult or impossible to understand from the knowledge of the words considered separately. Moreover, "idiom" may be synonymous to the words "language" or "dialect", denoting a form of expression peculiar to a people, a country, a district, or to one individual. There seems to be no point in enumerating further possibilities. The word "phrase" is no less polysemantic. *The term set expression is on the contrary more definite and self-explanatory, because the first element points out the most important characteristic of these units, namely, their stability, their fixed and ready-made nature. The word "expression" suits our purpose, because it is a general term including words, groups of words and sentences, so that both ups and downs and that's a horse of another colour are expressions.
Set expressions Set expressions have sometimes been called "word equivalents", and it has been postulated by A.I. Smirnitsky that the vocabulary of a language consists of words and word equivalents (word-groups), similar to words in so far as they are not created in speech but introduced into the act of communication ready-made. It is most important to keep in mind that here equivalence means only this and nothing more. Set expressions are contrasted to free phrases and semi fixed combinations. All these are but different stages of restrictions imposed upon co occurrence of words, upon the lexical filling of structural patterns which are specific for even' language. The restrictions may be independent of the ties existing in extralinguistic reality between the objects spoken of and be conditioned by purely linguistic factors, or have extralinguistic causes in the history of the people. In free combinations the linguistic factors are chiefly connected with grammatical properties of words.
Set expressions If substitution is only pronominal, or restricted to a few synonyms for one of the members only, or impossible, i.e. if the elements of the phrase are always the same and make a fixed context for each other, the word-group is a set expression. According to the type of motivation and the other above-mentioned features, three types of phraseological units are suggested: phraseological fusions, phraseological unities and phraseological combinations. 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 and do not lend themselves to literal translation into other languages. Phraseological unities are much more numerous. They are clearly motivated. The emotional quality is based upon the image created by the whole as in to stick (to