The concept of phraseology and the basic types of phraseological units

Понятие фразеологии и основные типы фразеологических единиц
Farmonova N.F.
Farmonova N.F. The concept of phraseology and the basic types of phraseological units // Universum: филология и искусствоведение : электрон. научн. журн. 2021. 6(84). URL: (дата обращения: 23.02.2024).
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This article is devoted to the study of the phraseology origin. In this article the authors are trying to define the word phraseology and its isolation from lexicology. In order to comprehend the word phraseologism they first introduced it to the scholars, who made their initial attempt to study this field of linguistics, which is called phraseology. It is clear that this branch of linguistics is very young and very few scientists managed to see the world that is brought by phraseology. In this article the basic types of phraseological units are analyzed relating to the degree of idiomaticity in the process of learning a foreign language. The authors have tried to define the types of phraseological units by using numerous examples.


Данная статья посвящена исследованию возникновения фразеологии. В данной статье авторы уточняют вопрос о том, как определить слово фразеология и его обособление от лексикологии. Для понимания слова фразеологизм они сначала познакомили ученых, которые предприняли свою первоначальную попытку изучить область лингвистики, которую мы называем фразеологией. Из их заметок ясно, что эта отрасль лингвистики очень молода, и мало кому из ученых удалось увидеть мир, который принесла фразеология. В данной статье анализируются основные типы фразеологических единиц, относящиеся к степени идиоматичности в процессе изучения иностранного языка. Авторы попытались определить типы фразеологических единиц с помощью примеров.


Keywords: vocabulary, language, phraseology, study, stylistic, PU, word-group, style, origin, idiom, stability, phraseological fusions, phraseological unities, phraseological collocations.

Ключевые слова: лексика, язык, фразеология, исследование, стилистика, ФЕ, словосочетание, стиль, происхождение, идиома, устойчивость, фразеологические сращения, фразеологические единства, фразеологические словосочетания.


Language is the most essential factor of characterizing every nation’s beliefs, culture and the attitude to the world. As beliefs, worldviews and cultures do not look like to each other, proverbs and sayings of different nations are not the same. One of the most outstanding linguists Nida said that it is important to study the language of the nation when we study its culture. According to his point of view language and culture is an interrelation system, which was developed together at the same time. He explains it as follows: ‘Cultural factors are deeply interwoven with the language, and thus are morphologically and structurally reflected in the forms of the language.’ [5, p. 55].

Phraseology of each language makes a significant contribution to the formation of figurative pictures of the world. Knowing the phraseology allows to get a deeper understanding of the history and character of the people. Phraseologisms exist in close connection with vocabulary. Their study helps to get better understanding of the vocabulary structure, education and the use of lexical units in speech. When we talk about this term, our tongue instantly curves into another notion that signifies the above concept. This is the phraseological units (PU) term. They are special language means in which the originality and uniqueness of any language is concentrated. Considering PU in this aspect, we come to the disclosure of the ‘phraseology’ concept in the broad sense of the word. In a narrow sense, phraseology is a section of linguistics that studies stable speech speed [3, p. 942].

For the first time, the concept of PU was formulated by the linguist S. Balli, a representative of the French school of linguistics. He called the PU as ‘combinations that have firmly entered to the language’ [4, p. 380]. English and American researchers such as L.P. Smith, A. Mackay, J. Seidlou, and W. McMordi use the term ‘idiom’ in their writings on the study of PU. By an idiom they mean an expression whose value is not inferred from the value of its individual elements.

The richness of vocabulary of every language depends on not only the ways of forming new words, but also on the permanent idioms it may form. The science which studies the ‘world’ of those units is called phraseology. Phraseology is the science about idioms, and it was firstly used in 1928 by Y.D. Polovinov. [1, p. 208]

Phraseology resembles a picturesque gallery comprising the samples of eternal and marvelous customs and traditions of a nation, historical memorials, fairy tales and songs. Phraseology is not only the most colourful part of vocabulary, but also the most democratic layer.

For the first time, phraseology was used in the study of literature. While translating some fiction from one language into another it became impossible to translate inseparable word combinations. Then the phraseological unities in those languages were researched. The term phraseology was first used in philology in 1558 by the English literary scholar Neander. While translating the literary works Neander had to use this term. Although the biggest part of phraseological materials are included in vocabulary and other sources, the research works on the theory of phraseology have been rarely met in the sources concerning linguistics (L. Smith, D. Curry, W. Ball, Ch.Bally). Up to now the matters of English phraseology have been studied within grammar, stylistics, lexicography and the history of language. Later phraseology has been studied as a branch of lexicology. As the linguistics developed, nowadays phraseology has been admitted and is being researched as an independent branch of linguistics in most languages. It is worth pointing out that a number of Eastern European and Russian scholars researched this field in their works. A lot of results were achieved. Though French scholar Charlie Bally put the term phraseologie into the science, this term wasn’t used in the works of Western European and American linguists. Bally uses phraseology within stylistics. The matter of studying phraseology as an independent branch of linguistics was advanced by Russian linguist E.D.Polivanov. As he maintains positively, lexis studies separate words’ meanings, morphology studies words’ structure, syntax studies the structure of word combinations. In his opinion, there is a necessity for an independent field which studies peculiar unique word combinations. E.D.Polivanov was sure that phraseology would become firmly fixed in linguistics and it occurred. The matter of studying phraseology as a separate branch of linguistics was promoted by Russian scholar V.V.Vinogradov too. V.V.Vinogradov’s great service is that he separated phraseological unities into semantic groups. However, phraseology remained a part of lexicology, because the principal criteria proving that phraseology could be an independent field of linguistics hadn’t been worked out yet. So, phraseology was being learned as the part of lexicology. After E.D.Polivanov and V.V.Vinogradov the first who promoted the idea of studying phraseology independently was scholar B.A.Larin. He affirmed that enough scientific research hadn’t been done in phraseology. In Russian linguist A.V.Kunin’s opinion, phraseology came off the lexicology circle: its range and significance have been raised. Though a lot of, sometimes controversial ideas were expressed concerning phraseology a number of scientific research works had been done. Such outstanding linguists as N.N. Amosova, A.V. Kunin, V.A. Smirnitsky, S.S. Gorelik, V.L. Arkhangelsky, V.V. Vinogradov, B.A. Larin, I.A. Melchuk, I.I. Revzin, S.N.Savitskaya, Yu.D. Apresan have great services to this science.[1, p. 210]

The meaning of phraseology is not deduced from the value of the sum of its elements, but is determined by rethinking. This is because the phraseological phrase is not a free phrase, but one of its main properties is reproducibility. So the free combinations are the expressions ‘white snow’, ‘black pen’, ‘yellow pencil’, which are created from separate words in the process of communication, at the same time, the expressions ‘white lie’, ‘black gold’, ‘black market’, ‘yellow papers’ are PU that are retrieved from the memory just like individual words. Any violation in the syntactic or semantic structure of these PU irreparably leads to the loss of their meaning.

It has been repeatedly pointed out that word-groups analyzed as functionally and semantically inseparable units are considered to be the subject matter of phraseology. It should be noted that proper scientific investigation of English phraseology has not been attempted until quite recently. English and American linguists tried to collect various words, word-groups and sentences by presenting some features of view, style, origin and usage which are peculiar to them. These units are usually described as idioms but no attempt has been made to analyze these idioms as a separate class of linguistic units.

However, the existing terms, [ 4, p. 480] such as set-phrases, idioms, word-equivalents reflect to a certain extent the main debatable issues of phraseology. The term set-phrase implies that the basic criterion of differentiation is the stability of lexical components and grammatical structure of word-groups. The term idioms generally imply that the essential feature of the linguistic units under consideration is the idiomaticity or lack of motivation.

Phraseological units are habitually defined as non-motivated word-groups that cannot be freely made up in speech but are reproduced as a ready-made system. This definition proceeds from the assumption that the essential features of phraseological units are considered to be the stability of the lexical components. [ 3, p. 942] It is frequently assumed that unlike components of free word-groups which may vary due to the needs of communication, words of phraseological units are reproduced as single unchangeable collocations.

Taking into account mainly the degree of idiomaticity phraseological units may be classified into three big groups: phraseological fusions, phraseological unities and phraseological collocations.

Phraseological fusions are completely non-motivated word-groups, such as red tape- “bureaucratic methods”; heavy father-“serious or solemn part in a theatrical play”; kick the bucket-“die” and the like. The meaning of the components has no connections whatsoever, at least synchronically, with the meaning of the whole group. Idiomaticity is, as a rule, combined with complete stability of the lexical components and the grammatical structure of the fusion.

Phraseological unities are partially non-motivated as their meaning can usually be perceived through the metaphoric meaning of the whole phraseological unit. For example, to show one’s teeth, to wash one’s dirty linen in public if interpreted as semantically motivated through the combined lexical meaning of the component words would naturally lead one to understand these in their literal meaning. The metaphoric meaning of the whole unit, however, readily suggests ‘take a threatening tone’ or ‘show an intention to injure’ for show one’s teethand ‘discuss or make public one’s quarrels’ for wash one’s dirty linen in public. Phraseological unities are as a rule marked by a comparatively high degree of stability of the lexical components.

Phraseological collocations are motivated but they are made up of words possessing specific lexical valency which accounts for a certain degree of stability in such word-groups. In phraseological collocations variability of member words is strictly limited. For instance, bear a grudge may be changed into bear malice, but not intobear a fancy or liking. We can say take a liking(fancy) but not take hatred (disgust). These habitual collocations tend to become kind of clichés where the meaning of member-words is to some extent dominated by the meaning of the whole group. Due to these phraseological collocations are felt possessing a certain degree of semantic inseparability.

To conclude the article, it can be reviewed that by taking into consideration the degree of idiomaticity phraseological units are classified into three groups such as phraseological fusions, phraseological unities and phraseological collocations. [ 2, p. 125 ] They are differentiated according to their idiomaticity and they are proven with the examples.



  1. Amosova N.N. Fundamentals of English phraseology. -L; LGU, 1963. -208 p.
  2. Ginzburg R., Knidekel S., Mednikova E., Sankin A. Verbal collacations in Modern English. -M, 1975. -125 p.
  3. Kunin A.V.Anglo-russkiy frazeologicheskiy slovar: Ok. 20000 frazeol. edinits G`A.V.Kunin. M.: Rus. yaz., 1984.- 942 s.
  4. Kunin A.V. Kurs frazeologii sovremennogo angliyskogo yazika: Ucheb. dlya in-tov i fak. inostr. yaz. G’A.V. Kunin. -M: Vo’ssh. shk. Dubna: Izd. tsentr "Feniks", 1996.-380 s.
  5. V. Teliya, N. Bragina, E. Oparina, I. Sandomirskaya. Phraseology as a language of culture: its role in the representation of a collective mentality in Cowie (ed.) 1998.-55 p.
  6. //
Информация об авторах

Master student, Navoi State Pedagogical Institute, an English teacher of school №16, Uzbekistan, Navoi city

магистрант Навоийского государственного педагогического института, учительница английского языка школы №16, Узбекистан, г Навои

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