CLASSIFICATION OF PHRASEOLOGICAL UNITS.
Phraseological units are widely diverse in character and there exist many different points of view on their classification. Russian linguists have achieved marked results in systematizing English phraseology and classifying different units into homogeneous classes.
One of the most convincing classifications is that proposed by the late Smirnitsky. It is based on a semantic principle combined with structural peculiarities.
Being word-equivalents phraseological units may be more or less complex. There are phraseological units with one semantic centre, i.e. with the domination of one component over another. This semantically dominating element also determines the equivalence of the phraseological unit to a certain class of words. This type of phraseological units is termed collocation.
There are three main structural types of collocations:
1. Verb-adverb collocation.
e.g. To look after, to run out.
The dominant word, the semantic and grammatical centre of this collocation is the verb and the whole unit is a verb-equivalent. This proves that not every verb-adverb construction is a collocation. Without this semantic fusion which produces a new meaning there would be no collocation. Some collocations of the verb-adverb type are polysemantic,
e.g. To make out means
a)to see, hear or understand someone or something with difficulty;
b) to pretend that something is true.
These collocations are stylistically colloquial. Their synonyms are verbs which are more definite in their semantic structure and neutral in style.
e.g. The synonym for to give up is to abandon.
2. Attributive collocations.
e.g. Out-of-place, out of the question.
These collocations function as attributes to nouns and the whole unit is an adjective-equivalent.
e.g. An out-of-the way village, a matter-of-fact remark.
3. Preposition-noun collocations.
e.g. By heart, in time.
b)Linking phrases, which are equivalents of form words.
e.g. Instead of, in order that, in accordance with.
There are phraseological units with two centers. They are termed set expressions. The components do not dominate one over the other. There are three main types of set expressions:
1. Verb-noun set expressions.
e.g. To fall in love, to go to bed, to take root.
2. Adjective-noun set-expressions.
e.g. Best man, brown bread, first night.
Set expressions of this type have a tendency to become compound words of syntactical type. The adjective and the noun may become fused and if the combination acquires a uniting stress a compound word is formed.
3. Phraseological repetitions. They are formed:
— out of antonymic elements:
e. g Up and down, from top to toe, here and there.
— out of alliterative elements:
e. g. Part and parcel, really and truly, there and then, at sixes and sevens.
There also exist set expressions with more than two centres: e.g. Every other day, every now and then.
Idioms proper form a special class in phraseology and should be distinguished from the phraseological units given above, although structurally they do not differ from them.
The distinction lies in the fact that idioms proper are such combinations of words which occur in metaphorical use and possess a special stylistic colouring or expressiveness.
The phraseological units discussed above do not possess this degree of expressiveness. The idioms are divided into the following types.
1. Those that are based on metaphor.
a)The metaphorical use of every day things or notions,
e.g. To have other fish to fry, as dead as a door nail.
b)The metaphorical use of specialized things or notions.
e.g. To sit above the salt, to put off to the Greek Calends.
2. Those that are based on transference from one functional sphere into another.
e.g. To hit below the belt (from sport), to start a hare (from hunting).
Structurally we can distinguish the following idioms.
1. That in all cases remain unchanged.
e.g. Can leopard change his spots?, a little bird told me.
2. That can undergo grammatical change.
e.g. To take a leaf out of smb’s book (He took a leaf out of his father’s book; She will take a leaf out of your book).
According to the type of motivation and other above-mentioned features R.S. Ginzburg classifies phraseological units into three groups:
1. Phraseological fusions.
e.g. «Red tape» means ((bureaucratic methods»; «kick the bucket» — «die». They are completely non-motivated. Idiomaticity is combined with complete stability of the lexical components and the grammatical structure of the fusion.
2. Phraseological unities.
They are clearly motivated. The emotional quality is based on the image created by the whole. Phraseological unities are marked by a high degree of stability of the lexical components.
e.g. «To stick (to stand) to one’s guns» i.e. «to refuse to change one’s statements or opinions in the face of opposition)) implying courage and integrity.
3. Phraseological combinations.
They are motivated; contain one component used in its direct meaning while the other is used figuratively. The mobility of this type is rather great,
e.g. To meet the demand, to meet the necessity, to meet the requirements.