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Classification of idioms

Idiomatic expressions form an important part of the English vocabulary and an active tool to
conceptualize the social environment and reality around us. Grammarians and linguists have made
many attempts over the time to categorize idioms. The categorization of idiomatic expressions
might be a complex linguistic process.
Idioms classification according to their spectrum of idiomacity
It is one of the most important classification of idioms. The main characteristic feature that
differentiates between the different kinds of idioms is the degree of idiomacity that an idiomatic
expression carries.
By this criterion idioms may be classified in !
transparent idioms: are those idiomatic string which are easy to comprehend and translate
and their meaning can be inferred from the significance of their constituents "one# to# one semantic
relations between the idiom constituents and components of the idiom$s meaning%
e.g to fight a loosing battle, back and forth, to see the light
Semi-transparent idioms:
&emi#transparent idioms are idiomatic expressions which usually carry a metaphorical sense
and their constituents have a small role in comprehending the overall meaning of the expression.
e.g to break the ice ( to reveal the tension)
Semi-opaue idioms:
This group of idioms refers to those idiomatic expression in which the figurative sense is
not related to that of the constituent words of the expression
e.g to pass the buck ( to pass responsibility)
to kno! the rope (to kno! ho! a particular "ob should be done%
#paue idioms
This type of idioms are the most difficult type of idiomatic expression because the relation
between idiom$s constituents and its maning may be opa'ue and the senses of individual words can
be nevertheless constrain both interpretation and use " e.g to burn one$s boat# to make retreat
(oon ")**+!,% claimed that - an idiom is # a particular lexical collocation or phrasal
lexeme peculiar to a language.. In narrow terms idiom is restricted to / fixed and semantically
opa'ue or metaphorically lexical units "(oon )**+!0%. Generally idiom denote many kinds of
multiword expressions.
Semantic classification of idioms
&emantic classification in the field of categorization of idioms refers to the degree of non#
compositionality of the idiomatic expressions.
Idioms are fre'uently perceived as non#compositional expressions. 1ccording to the level of
compositionality idioms can be classified into ! figurative idioms semi-idioms groups and pure
$igurative idioms are non#compositional idioms with a clear figurative meaning as a whole
" transparent metaphors%2 for example the underlying sense of futility in the phrase - to
carry coals to %e!castle & is comprehensible by placing the action in a literal context
1nother relevant example for this type of idiomatic expressions! to add fuel to the fire,
break the ice, fill the sink
Semi-idioms usually comprise of at least one literal and one figurative component which
gives them an overall partially compositional meaning "semi-transparent metaphors)' the
translator needs some specialist knowledge in order to understand their signification
e.g bumper to bumper
to skate on thin ice
(ure )opaue idioms
This type of idioms cannot be translated or interpreted compositionally. 1 relevant example of
a pure idioms is - to kick the bucket& as it is an opa'ue expression. The combination of these
characteristics places pure idioms at the top of the scale of idiomaticity. 1nother signified
example! over the moon, in a nutshell etc.
*he classification of idioms according to the grammatical functions
1ccording to their grammatical or syntactic function in the text idiomatic expression can
be divided into! nominal idioms2 verbal idioms2 ad3ectival idioms 2 adverbial idioms and sentence
a% 4ominal idiomatic expressions / are those idioms that perform the function of the noun
in the sentence. The most typical grammatical patterns of this group are!
noun5 con35 noun ! chapter and verse
ad3ective5 noun ! a small fortune2 funnybone2 grey matter
noun5con35noun 5 noun
b% 6erbal idioms are the most fre'uent ones. They consists of * units!
65 4 ! to mark time2 to take place2 to break the news
65 prep! to look on2 to water down2 to show up "to appear%
65prep5 4 ! to read between the lines2 to fish for information
6545 prep ! to cast an eye over
65 pronoun5 7ast 7art! to keep someone posted
65 pronoun5 prep5 4! to put someone in the picture
65ad3 5 4! to have a good press
65 adv5 4! to spread like wildfire
65 4! to ring a bell2 to hit the headlines
+d"ectival idioms! are those groups of idioms that perform ad3ectival function in the
sentence. They usually contain one or more ad3ectives. The ad3ectives appear mostly
with another element a noun or a verb which makes then a nominal or verbal phrase.
The most important feature of ad3ectival idioms is related to the ad3ectival pairs of
words which are usually connected by alliteration such as in safe and sound (safe),
spick and span (very tidy), through thick and thin (al!ays, !henever, in good or bad,
here it is a figure of speech called an oxymoron# combination of two contradictory
terms at the same time% but this is not a rule e.g . high and lo! (desperately).
c% +dverbial idiomatic e,pressions are those groups of idioms that function as adverbs in
the sentence. They usually contain one or more adverbials. (ost of English idioms in
this group follow patterns like!
b% (rep-ad"
c% 7rep5 noun (!ith or !ithout an article): e.g in the doghouse (in disfavor)
d) +dv- prep-noun-noun
c) Sentence (clause) idioms
The most common sentence idioms are!
I. *o have sharp ears for any gossip
II. *o have one.s lips sealed
III. /usic to one.s ears
I0. 1ith a sting in its tail