Semantics and Structure of Verbal Phraseological Units

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CHAPTER TWO
SEMANTICS AND STRUCTURE OF VERBAL PHRASEOLOGICAL UNITS

The subject matter of our graduation paper is semantics and structure of verbal phraseological units . The English language is extremely rich in verbal phraseological units due to their grammatical features and the diversity of their structural types. It is known that the verb is endowed with the richest grammatical categories in the system of the parts of speech. The same grammatical features pass from the verb to verbal idioms. Becoming a component of an idiom, the verb endows its idiom with its grammatical and functional characteristic features.

The classification system of phraseological units suggested by Professor A.V. Koonin is the latest outstanding achievement in the Russian theory of phraseology. The classification is based on the combined structural – semantic principle and it also considers the quotient of stability of phraseological units ( Антрушина Г. Б., Афанасьева О.В., Морозова Н.Н., Лексикология Английского языка, 2008 ). Phraseological units are subdivided into the following four classes according to their function in communication determined by their structural – semantic characteristics. 1. Nominative phraseological units are represented by word – groups, including the ones with one meaningful word, and coordinative phrases of the type wear and tear. The first class also includes word- groups with a predicative structure, such as the crow flies, and, also, predicative phrases of the type see how the land lies, ships that pass in the night. 2. Nominative – communicative phraseological units include word- groups of the type to break the ice - the ice is broken, verbal word- groups which are transformed into a sentence when the verb is used in the Passive Voice. 3. Phraseological units which are neither nominative nor communicative include interjectional word- groups. 4. Communicative phraseological units are represented by proverbs and sayings. Thus, verbal idioms belong to the class of nominative and nominative – communicative phraseological units, due to the fact that some of them are word – combinations, while others can be both word –combinations and sentences. Word- groups may be generally described through the pattern of arrangement of the constituent members. The term “ syntactic structure “ implies the description of the order and arrangement of member – words as parts of speech. We may, for instance, describe the word – group as made up of an Adjective and a Noun ( clever man, red flower, etc. ), a Verb – a Noun ( take books, build houses , etc. ) , or a Noun, a Preposition and a Noun ( a touch of colour, a matter of importance, etc. ). The syntactic structure of the nominal groups “ clever man” and “ red flower” may be represented as A+ N, that of the verbal groups “ take books” and “ build houses” as V+ N. These formulas can be used to describe all the possible structures of English word – groups. We can say , e.g., that the verbal groups comprise the following structural formulas: V+N ( to build houses), V+ prp +N ( to rely on somebody ), V+ N+ prp +N (to hold something against somebody ), V+N+V ( to make somebody work), V+V (to get to know ). The structure of word-groups may be also described in relation to the head – word, e.g. the structure of the same verbal groups ( to build houses, to rely on somebody ) is represented as to build +N, to rely +on +N. In this case it is usual to speak of the patterns of word – groups but not of formulas. The term “ pattern “ implies that we are speaking of the structure of the word – group in which a given word is used as its head. The interdependence of the pattern and meaning of head – words can be easily perceived by comparing word – groups of different patterns in which the same head-word is used. For example, in verbal groups the head – word mean is semantically different in the patterns mean +iV ( mean something ) and mean + V ( inf.)...
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