On divisibility of idiomatic meaning (based on the material of english national corpora)

DOI 10.51955/2312-1327_2021_3_166

Olga Yu. Syomina

Elena V. Skvortsova

Abstract. The article examines the problem of semantic cohesion, traditionally regarded as one of the characteristic features of an idiom, and reveals the potential for divisibility of idiomatic meaning into components correlating with components of the idiom’s external form. The authors summarize modern approaches to the issues of semantic divisibility and variation of idioms, emphasizing the efficiency of describing idiomatic meaning in terms of frame semantics. The study analyses the functioning of idioms with partially or completely transferred meaning in the texts of national English language corpora, and describes the potential for functional and semantic segregation of their individual structural components, taking into account frame approach to the modelling of meaning. The results obtained confirm the original hypothesis that even completely transferred idiomatic meaning can potentially be divided into elements that can be attributed to separate formal components of the idiom. The study characterizes different structural types of English idioms in terms of divisibility of their meaning and distinguishes between three levels of semantic divisibility correlated to the degree of autonomy demonstrated by structural components of the idioms. As a result, semantic cohesion is defined as a non-permanent feature that can vary under the influence of contextual factors.

Keywords: phraseology, idiom, semantic cohesion, divisibility of meaning, corpus.

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