Unit 16 English Idioms. 1. Characteristics of idioms 1) Semantic unity
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1) Semantic unity
Each idiom is a semantic unity. The semantic unity can be reflected by the fact that the meaning of an idiom is very often not the total sum of the meanings of the constituent words. The semantic unity can aslo be shown in the illogical relations between the literal meanings of the consitituent words and the meaning of the idiom.
Structural stability means that the structure of an idiom usually remains unchangible. In other words, the constituent components of an idiom can not, generally speaking, be replaced.
1)Idioms norminal in nature:
They function as nouns in a sentence:
Jack of all trades
They function as adjectives in a sentence.
cut and dried
wide of the mark
up in the air
They function as verbs in a sentence.
put down to
get away with
They function as adverbials in a sentence:
tooth and nail
in nothing flat
through thick and thin
Such idioms are usually in complete sentential form. They are usally proverbs or sayings.
Never do things by halves.
All is not gold that glitters.
a. alliteration such as "chop and change"
b. rhyme such as "toil and moil"
a. reiteration, which means the duplication of synonyms such as "chop and change"
b. repetition, which means the repetition of the same word, such as "by and by"
c. juxtapostion, which means the combination of two antonyms such as "day and night"
b. metaphor: white elephant such as "day and night"
c. metonymy: velvet glove such as "day and night"
in the cradle
live by one’
d. synecdoche: earn one's bread such as "day and night"
fall into good hands
e. personification: such as "day and night"
Failure is the mother of success
Actions speak louder than words.
The pot calls the cattle black.
4. Variations of idioms such as "day and night"
"in good condition" from "in condition"
2) deletion: such as "day and night"
"the last straw" from "It is the last straw that breaks the camel's back."
3) position-shifting: such as "day and night"
"The Johnsons keep up with sb" from "keep up with the Johnsons"
4) replacement: such as "day and night"
"wash one's clean linen in public" from "wash one's dirty linen in public"
Idioms are terse, vivid and expressive.