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To find the mare’s nest — попасть пальцем в небо; to draw a red herring across the train

Phraseological units—w-d-groups, consisting of 2 / > w-s integrated as a unit with a specialized meaning of the whole (the meaning of each component is weakened or entirely lost).

to find the mare’s nestпопасть пальцем в небо;

to draw a red herring across the train — сбить к-л. с толку;

husbands tea — жидкий, испитой чай;

white lie — невинная ложь;

to talk 19 to the dust — заговорить к-л. до смерти.
Peculiarities of the phraseological units

~ euphony — the definite rhythmical pattern, accompanied by alliteration:

with might & main; high & mightyизо всей силы, со всей решимостью;

safe & sound — цел и невредим;

thick as thieves — спаянные крепкой дружбой, закадычные друзья;

bright as a button — чистенький, нарядный;

part & parcel

~ stylistic figures — tropes having contrast, simile, metaphor → they are stylistically coloured:

fair as a lily — прекрасная как лилия;

bright as a new pin — чистенький, нарядный;

like patience on a monument — как скорбное изваяние;

a big fish in a little pond — местный туз, заправила;

great cry & little woolшуму много, а толку мало;

ships that pass in the night — мимолётные встречи

2 major criteria of distinguishing set-expressions from free phrases: semantic & structural

~ semantic: semantic unity.

set-expressions — w-d-groups conveying a single concept.

free w-d-groups — each meaningful component stands for a separate concept:

to drop a brick—допустить бестактность

to take / put / paint a brick / box / any object — взять / положить / покрасить кирпич / коробку / любой предмет.

~ structural integrity (целостность)

Free phrases — substitution of any of its elements without semantic change in the other element is possible.

Semi-fixed combinations — restrictions imposed on types of w-s, ~ c.b. used in a given pattern:

to go to __ school, to go to __market, to go to __ court

the pattern:to go + prepos. + no article — only with nouns of places, where definite actions or functions are performed.

Set-expressions — no substitution / pronominal substitution / substitution restricted to a few synonyms for one of the members only.

to cut a poor (ridiculous) figure, not to cut much of a figure — играть незначительную роль, казаться жалким.

to make one’s (my, your, his, etc.) hair stand on end — сильно изумить, напугать к-л.

cf.: to cut bread, cheese, etc.

No substitution:

all the world & his wife—все без исключения, всё светское общество

the black market

a grass widow — not a widow but a woman temporarily living without her husband

busy as a bee

fair & square—open-hearted, frank

Classification of the phraseological units

The classifications are numerous.

I: byViktor Vladim. Vinogradov — based upon the motivation

1) phraseological fusions (слияния, объединения) — the highest stage of blending (сочетания) together — semantically indivisible units; the meaning can’t be directly derived from the meanings of its componenets:

to pull one’s leg, to be cut off with a shilling

king’s picture — фальшивая монетка

by hook or by crook — не мытьём, так катаньем

2) phraseological unities (единства) — > numerous, possess some degree of motivation. The emotional quality is based on the metaphorical image created by the whole. They may have synonymic substitution:

to stand / stick to one’s guns—не сдавать позиций, оставаться до конца верным

своим убеждениям, настоять на своём;

to make a mountain out of a mole(дамба)

to take a new leaf to take a bull by the horns

3) phraseological combinations — not only motivated but contain one component in its direct meaning, while the other is used metaphorically:

to meet the requirements — столкнуться с условиями, нуждами

to take the risk of to pay compliments

II: classification by Nat. Nik. Amosova — based on the contextual approach: phrasemes & idioms

~ phrasemes — always binary phras. un-s.: one of their components has a phraseologically bound meaning (1), the other serves as the determining context (2):

to grind one’s teeth — скрежетать зубами;

(1) (2)

(растирать, перемалывать)

to knit ones brows — хмурить брови;

(1) (2)

(сращивать, срастить)

small hoursпервые часы после полуночи

small talk — пустой, бессодержательный, светский разговор.

~ idioms

a mares nest—иллюзия, нечто несуществующее
III: by Alex. Vlad. Koonin — gave a detailed functional & semantic class-on; it’s based on the function of the unit in speech:

  1. nominative

~ the pattern Adj. + N:

a white elephant, blue blood, blind pig (бар, где незаконно торгуют спиртным),

brown study (меланхолия), hot tiger (высокооктановый хороший бензин),

yellow Jack (флаг, который вывешивается на судне, если на нём подозревается инфекционная болезнь), a green-eyed monster;

~ w-d-groups with a predicative structure:

as the crow flies — кратчайшим путём,

see how the land lies — видеть, как обстоят дела

2) communicative — by proverbs & sayings:

familiarity breeds contempt—чем больше знаешь, тем меньше почитаешь,

every cloud has a silver line

3) nominative-communicative—verbal w-d-groups which are transformed into a sentence when the verb is used in the Passive Voice;

to pay nature’s debt — умирать,

to pull one’s leg,

to pay through the nose — переплачивать

4) interjectional:

Dog my cats! — чёрт побери!

By George! — Клянусь!

All my buttons! — возглас удивления

Queen Ann’s dead! — открыл Америку!

A fine / nice / pretty kettle of fish — неразбериха; ничего себе; ну и каша заварилась

All is not gold that glitters.

A dead ass better than a living lion.

The last straw breaks the camel’s backthe last straw

A drowning man will clutch at a strawto clutch at a straw

It is useless to lock the stable door when the steed is stolento lock the stable door (take precautions when the accident they are meant to prevent has already happened).

Don’t put all your eggs in 1 basketto put all one’s eggs in 1 basket

examples from your previous experience at school, university

Familiar quotations

Shakespeare: Brevity is the soul of wit. The rest is silence. Thus conscience does make cowards of us all.

Quotations from classical sources were once a recognized feature of public speech:

De te fibula narrator (Horace): the story is about you

Tempora mutantur, et nos mutamur in illis: times change, & we change with them

Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes (Virgil): I fear the Greeks, even when bringing gifts.


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To find the mare’s nest — попасть пальцем в небо; to draw a red herring across the train