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Among one-top units he points out three structural types;

a) units of the type «to give up» (verb + postposition type), e.g. to art up, to back up, to drop out, to nose out, to buy into, to sandwich in etc.;

b) units of the type «to be tired» . Some of these units remind the Passive Voice in their structure but they have different prepositons with them, while in the Passive Voice we can have only prepositions «by» or «with», e.g. to be tired of, to be interested in, to be surprised at etc. There are also units in this type which remind free word-groups of the type «to be young», e.g. to be akin to, to be aware of etc. The difference between them is that the adjective «young» can be used as an attribute and as a predicative in a sentence, while the nominal component in such units can act only as a predicative. In these units the verb is the grammar centre and the second component is the semantic centre;

c) prepositional- nominal phraseological units. These units are equivalents of unchangeable words: prepositions, conjunctions, adverbs , that is why they have no grammar centre, their semantic centre is the nominal part, e.g. on the doorstep (quite near), on the nose (exactly), in the course of, on the stroke of, in time, on the point of etc. In the course of time such units can become words, e.g. tomorrow, instead etc.

Among two-top units A.I. Smirnitsky points out the following structural types:

a) attributive-nominal such as: a month of Sundays, grey matter, a millstone round one’s neck and many others. Units of this type are noun equivalents and can be partly or perfectly idiomatic. In partly idiomatic units (phrasisms) sometimes the first component is idiomatic, e.g. high road, in other cases the second component is idiomatic, e.g. first night. In many cases both components are idiomatic, e.g. red tape, blind alley, bed of nail, shot in the arm and many others.

b) verb-nominal phraseological units, e.g. to read between the lines , to speak BBC, to sweep under the carpet etc. The grammar centre of such units is the verb, the semantic centre in many cases is the nominal component, e.g. to fall in love. In some units the verb is both the grammar and the semantic centre, e.g. not to know the ropes. These units can be perfectly idiomatic as well, e.g. to burn one’s boats,to vote with one’s feet, to take to the cleaners’ etc.

Very close to such units are word-groups of the type to have a glance, to have a smoke. These units are not idiomatic and are treated in grammar as a special syntactical combination, a kind of aspect.

c) phraseological repetitions, such as : now or never, part and parcel , country and western etc. Such units can be built on antonyms, e.g. ups and downs , back and forth; often they are formed by means of alliteration, e.g cakes and ale, as busy as a bee. Components in repetitions are joined by means of conjunctions. These units are equivalents of adverbs or adjectives and have no grammar centre. They can also be partly or perfectly idiomatic, e.g. cool as a cucumber (partly), bread and butter (perfectly).

Phraseological units the same as compound words can have more than two tops (stems in compound words), e.g. to take a back seat, a peg to hang a thing on, lock, stock and barrel, to be a shaddow of one’s own self, at one’s own sweet will.



Phraseological units can be clasified as parts of speech. This classification was suggested by I.V. Arnold. Here we have the following groups:

a) noun phraseologisms denoting an object, a person, a living being, e.g. bullet train, latchkey child, redbrick university, Green Berets,

b) verb phraseologisms denoting an action, a state, a feeling, e.g. to break the log-jam, to get on somebody’s coattails, to be on the beam, to nose out , to make headlines,

c) adjective phraseologisms denoting a quality, e.g. loose as a goose, dull as lead ,

d) adverb phraseological units, such as : with a bump, in the soup, like a dream , like a dog with two tails,

e) preposition phraseological units, e.g. in the course of, on the stroke of ,

f) interjection phraseological units, e.g. «Catch me!», «Well, I never!» etc.

In I.V.Arnold’s classification there are also sentence equivalents, proverbs, sayings and quatations, e.g. «The sky is the limit», «What makes him tick», » I am easy». Proverbs are usually metaphorical, e.g. «Too many cooks spoil the broth», while sayings are as a rule non-metaphorical, e.g. «Where there is a will there is a way».


Borrowing words from other languages is characteristic of English throughout its history More than two thirds of the English vocabulary are borrowings. Mostly they are words of Romanic origin (Latin, French, Italian, Spanish). Borrowed words are different from native ones by their phonetic structure, by their morphological structure and also by their grammatical forms. It is also characterisitic of borrowings to be non-motivated semantically.

English history is very rich in different types of contacts with other countries, that is why it is very rich in borrowings. The Roman invasion, the adoption of Cristianity, Scandinavian and Norman conquests of the British Isles, the development of British colonialism and trade and cultural relations served to increase immensely the English vocabulary. The majority of these borrowings are fully assimilated in English in their pronunciation, grammar, spelling and can be hardly distinguished from native words.

English continues to take in foreign words , but now the quantity of borrowings is not so abundunt as it was before. All the more so, English now has become a «giving» language, it has become Lingva franca of the twentieth century.

Borrowings can be classified according to different criteria:

a) according to the aspect which is borrowed,

b) according to the degree of assimilation,

c) according to the language from which the word was borrowed.

(In this classification only the main languages from which words were borrowed into English are described, such as Latin, French, Italian. Spanish, German and Russian.)


There are the following groups: phonetic borrowings, translation loans, semantic borrowings, morphemic borrowings.

Phonetic borrowings are most characteristic in all languages, they are called loan words proper. Words are borrowed with their spelling, pronunciation and meaning. Then they undergo assimilation, each sound in the borrowed word is substituted by the corresponding sound of the borrowing language. In some cases the spelling is changed. The structure of the word can also be changed. The position of the stress is very often influenced by the phonetic system of the borrowing language. The paradigm of the word, and sometimes the meaning of the borrowed word are also changed. Such words as: labour, travel, table, chair, people are phonetic borrowings from French; apparatchik, nomenklatura, sputnik are phonetic borrowings from Russian; bank, soprano, duet are phonetic borrowings from Italian etc.

Translation loans are word-for-word (or morpheme-for-morpheme ) translations of some foreign words or expressions. In such cases the notion is borrowed from a foreign language but it is expressed by native lexical units, «to take the bull by the horns» (Latin), «fair sex» ( French), «living space» (German) etc. Some translation loans appeared in English from Latin already in the Old English period, e.g. Sunday (solis dies). There are translation loans from the languages of Indians, such as: «pipe of peace», «pale-faced», from German «masterpiece», «homesickness», «superman».

Semantic borrowings are such units when a new meaning of the unit existing in the language is borrowed. It can happen when we have two relative languages which have common words with different meanings, e.g. there are semantic borrowings between Scandinavian and English, such as the meaning «to live» for the word «to dwell’ which in Old English had the meaning «to wander». Or else the meaning «дар» , «подарок» for the word «gift» which in Old English had the meaning «выкуп за жену».

Semantic borrowing can appear when an English word was borrowed into some other language, developed there a new meaning and this new meaning was borrowed back into English, e.g. «brigade» was borrowed into Russian and formed the meaning «a working collective«,»бригада». This meaning was borrowed back into English as a Russian borrowing. The same is true of the English word «pioneer».

Morphemic borrowings are borrowings of affixes which occur in the language when many words with identical affixes are borrowed from one language into another, so that the morphemic structure of borrowed words becomes familiar to the people speaking the borrowing language, e.g. we can find a lot of Romanic affixes in the English word-building system, that is why there are a lot of words - hybrids in English where different morphemes have different origin, e.g. «goddess», «beautiful» etc.


The degree of assimilation of borrowings depends on the following factors: a) from what group of languages the word was borrowed, if the word belongs to the same group of languages to which the borrowing language belongs it is assimilated easier, b) in what way the word is borrowed: orally or in the written form, words borrowed orally are assimilated quicker, c) how often the borrowing is used in the language, the greater the frequency of its usage, the quicker it is assimilated, d) how long the word lives in the language, the longer it lives, the more assimilated it is.

Accordingly borrowings are subdivided into: completely assimilated, partly assimilated and non-assimilated (barbarisms).

Completely assimilated borrowings are not felt as foreign words in the language, cf the French word «sport» and the native word «start». Completely assimilated verbs belong to regular verbs, e.g. correct -corrected. Completely assimilated nouns form their plural by means of s-inflexion, e.g. gate- gates. In completely assimilated French words the stress has been shifted from the last syllable to the last but one.

Semantic assimilation of borrowed words depends on the words existing in the borrowing language, as a rule, a borrowed word does not bring all its meanings into the borrowing language, if it is polysemantic, e.g. the Russian borrowing «sputnik» is used in English only in one of its meanings.

Partly assimilated borrowings are subdivided into the following groups: a) borrowings non-assimilated semantically, because they denote objects and notions peculiar to the country from the language of which they were borrowed, e.g. sari, sombrero, taiga, kvass etc.

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