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IDIOMS AND

COLLOCATION

Semantics

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Aya/semantics/Idiomsandcollocation

Idioms [1]
Traditionally, idiom is defined as an expression whose

meaning can not be inferred from the meaning of its part


e.g. to pull someones leg, to kick the bucket
Idiom is a set expression in which two or more words are
syntactically related, but with meaning like that of a single
unit.
e.g. spill the beans means revealing a secret
An idiom is an expression whose meaning can not be
accounted as compositional function of the meaning its
part when they are not parts of idioms
Two things are required from an idiom
1.
2.

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Lexically complexit should consist of more than one


lexical constituent
A single minimal semantic
unit
Aya/semantics/Idiomsandcollocation

Idioms [2]
An idiom may briefly characterized as a lexical

complex which is semantically simplex


Idioms also tend to resist interruption by material
which, as long as, it remains outside the idiom, is
semantically compatible
e.g. Arthur apparently has a chip on his shoulder
Arthur has a chip apparently on his shoulder
Idioms show their status as phrases in various ways.
For example, if an idiom may be inflected, the
inflectional affixes are carried by the grammatically
appropriate elements within the idioms
e.g. John has bees in his bonnet about many things
John has bee in his bonnet about many things
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Aya/semantics/Idiomsandcollocation

Feature of idioms
The elements are not separately modifiable without loss of idiomatic

meaning. Only idiom as a whole is modifiable


e.g. She pulled her brothers leg mercilessly
She pulled her brothers left leg mercilessly
The elements do not coordinate with genuine semantic constituents
e.g. She pulled and twisted her brothers leg
The elements cannot take contrastive stress or be the focus of
topicalizing transformations and the like
e.g. What she did to her brothers leg was pull it
The elements cannot be referred back to anaphorically
e.g. Mary pulled her brothers leg; John pulled it too
An idiom does not survive the substitution of any of its constituents
elements by a synonym or near-synonym
e.g. she tugged his leg about it
Some aspects of grammar e.g. voice may or may not be part of an
idiom
e.g. The bucket was kicked
by him
Aya/semantics/Idiomsandcollocation
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Collocation
It is a relation within a syntactic unit between individual lexical

elements. It is used especially where words specifically or habitually


go together. For example, blond collocates with hair
The term collocation refer to sequences of lexical items which
habitually co-occur, but which are nonetheless fully transparent in
the sense that each lexical constituent is also semantic constituent
e.g. fine weather, light drizzle, high winds
Collocation are of course easy to distinguish from idioms;
nonetheless they have a kind of semantic cohesionthe constituent
elements are to varying degrees, mutually selective
e.g. heavy drinker
Semantic cohesiveness is even tighter if the meaning of one of the
elements of a collocation requires a particular lexical item in its
immediate context
e.g. Im expected to foot the bill
the electricity bill
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Aya/semantics/Idiomsandcollocation

Examples of Collocation
great

heavy

high

utter

extreme deep

severe

Frost

Rain

Wind

Surprise

Distress

temperature

speed

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Aya/semantics/Idiomsandcollocation

Idioms and dead metaphor [1]


There is a type of expression which is frequently included in the

category of idiom, but which, it will be argued ought to be kept distinct.


It is called frozen or dead metaphor.
A metaphor includes the hearer or reader to view a thing, state of
affair, or whatever, as being like something else, by applying to the
former linguistic expression which are normally employed in
references to the latter.
Dead metaphor for which this is true can be revived by substituting
for one or more of their constituent parts elements which in their
literal are near-synonyms or paraphrases
e.g. They tried to sweeten the pill
They tried to sugar the medicine
The same process carried out on true idioms dramatically
demonstrates the difference between the two types of expression
e.g. John pulled his sisters leg
John tugged his sisters leg
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Aya/semantics/Idiomsandcollocation

Idioms and dead metaphor [2]


Not surprisingly, dead metaphor as a rule present fewer

problems to foreign learners of a language than idioms do.


Idioms and dead metaphor have certain characteristics in
common. Its probable that the majority of idioms began
their lives as a metaphor.
Dead metaphor and idioms are not semantically
transparent
Dead metaphor has semantic rigidity: the quality of being
dead is closely tied to a particular syntactic form and with
any modification the modification springs to life: He has
one foot in the grave and one of his feet in the grave
Because of their non-transparency and syntactic
frozenness, we shall consider dead metaphor to be
minimal lexical unit.

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Aya/semantics/Idiomsandcollocation