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VI. Find the euphemisms in the following sentences and jokes. Name the words for which they serve as euphemistic substitutes



 

1. Policeman (to intoxicated man who is trying to fit his key to a lamp-post): I'm afraid there's nobody home there tonight. Man: Mus' be. Mus' be. Theresh a light upstairsh. 2. "Johnny, where do you think God is this morning?" asked the Sunday-school teacher. "In our bathroom," was the reply. "What on earth makes you say that?" asked the amazed teacher. "Because just before I left I heard pa say, "My Lord! How long are you going to be in there?" 3. The doctor had an inveterate punster and wit among his patients. One day he was late in making his rounds, and explained to the incorrigible humourist that he had stopped to attend a man who had fallen down a well. With a groan of agony, the wit mustered up strength enough to murmur: "Did he kick the bucket, doctor?" 4. A girl was to visit her serviceman brother at a military hospital. While stopping at the desk of the officer of the day for directions to the patient's ward she asked: "Would you kindly tell me where the powder room is?" "Miss," the corpsman on duty replied with dignity, "this is a hospital, not an arsenal." 5.FirstStudent: Great Scott! I've forgotten who wrote Ivanhoe. Second Ditto: I'll tell you if you tell me who the dickens wrote The Tale of Two Cities. 6. So, for the love of Mike, come across to our table and help things along. 7. He was high and didn't know what he was saying. 8. "You never know with lunatics," said the young man chattily. "They don't always look balmy, you know." 9. "But what I mean was, it sounds more like a rather idiotic kind of hoax. Perhaps some convivial idiot who had had one over the eight." "Nine? Nine what?" "Nothing — just an expression. I meant a fellow who was tight." 10. "Funny old thing," said Lily Marbury indulgently. "Looks half batty to my mind." 11. "I think the fellow's half a loony. He needs some one to look after him."



VII. Find antonyms for the words given below.

 

Good, adj.; deep, adj.; narrow, adj., clever, adj.; young, adj.; to love, v.; to reject, v.; to give, u.; strong, adj.; to laugh, v.; joy, п.; evil, п.; up, adv., slowly, adj.; black, adj.; sad, adj.; to die, v.; to open, v.; clean, adj.; darkness, п.; big, adj.

VIII. Find antonyms in the following jokes and extracts and describe the resultant stylistic effect.

 

1.Policeman (holding up his hand}: Stop!

Visitor: What's the matter?

P.: Why are you driving on the right side of the road?

V.: Do you want me to ride on the wrong side?

P.: You are driving on the wrong side.

V.: But you said that I was driving on the right side.

P.: That is right. You are on the right, and that's wrong.

V.: A strange country! If right is wrong, I'm right when I'm on the wrong side. So why did you stop me?

P.: My dear sir, you must keep to the left. The right side is the left.

V.: It's like a looking-glass! I'll try to remember. Well, I want to go to Bellwood. Will you kindly tell me the way?

P.: Certainly. At the end of this road, turn left.

V.: Now let me think. Turn left! In England left is right, and right is wrong. Am I right?

P.: You'll be right if you turn left. But if you turn right, you'll be wrong.

V.: Thank you. It's as clear as daylight.

(After G. C. Thornley)1



 

2. Flying instructors say that pilot trainees are divided into optimists and pessimists when reporting the amount of fuel during flights. Optimists report that their fuel tank is half full while pessimists say it's half empty. 3. The canvas homes, the caravans, the transportable timber frames — each had its light. Some moving, some still. 4. His words seemed to point out that sad, even, tragic things could never be gay. 5. It was warm in the sun but cool under the shady trees. 6. He is my best friend and he is my bitter enemy. 7. Every man has feminine qualities and every woman has masculine ones. 8. He hated to be exposed to strangers, to be accepted or rejected.

 

CHAPTER 12

Phraseology: Word-Groups with Transferred Meanings

Phraseological units, or idioms, as they are called by most western scholars, represent what can probably be described as the most picturesque, colourful and expressive part of the language's vocabulary.

If synonyms can be figuratively referred to as the tints and colours of the vocabulary, then phraseology is a kind of picture gallery in which are collected vivid and amusing sketches of the nation's customs, traditions and prejudices, recollections of its past history, scraps of folk songs and fairy-tales. Quotations from great poets are preserved here alongside the dubious pearls of philistine wisdom and crude slang witticisms, for phraseology is not only the most colourful but probably the most democratic area of vocabulary and .draws its resources mostly from the very depths of popular speech.

And what a variety of odd and grotesque images, figures and personalities one finds in this amazing picture gallery: dark horses, white elephants, bulls in china shops and green-eyed monsters, cats escaping from bags or looking at kings, dogs barking up the wrong tree and men either wearing their hearts on their sleeves or having them in their mouths or even in their boots. Sometimes this parade of funny animals and quaint human beings looks more like a hilarious fancy-dress ball than a peaceful picture gallery and it is really a pity that the only interest some scholars seem to take in it is whether the leading component of the idiom is expressed by a verb or a noun.

The metaphor fancy-dress ball may seem far-fetched to skeptical minds, and yet it aptly reflects a very important feature of the linguistic phenomenon under discussion: most participants of the carnival, if we accept the metaphor, wear masks, are disguised as something or somebody else, or, dropping metaphors, word-groups known as phraseological units or idioms are characterized by a double sense: the current meanings of constituent words build up a certain picture, but the actual meaning of the whole unit has little or nothing to do with that picture, in itself creating an entirely new image.

So, a dark horse mentioned above is actually not a horse but a person about whom no one knows anything definite, and so one is not sure what can be expected from him. The imagery of a bull in a china shop lies very much on the surface: the idiom describes a clumsy person (cf. with the R. слон в посудной лавке). A white elephant, however, is not even a person but a valuable object which involves great expense or trouble for its owner, out of all proportion to its usefulness or value, and which is also difficult to dispose of. The green-eyed monster is jealousy, the image being drawn from Othello1. To let the cat out of the bag has actually nothing to do with cats, but means simply "to let some secret become known". In to bark up the wrong tree (Amer.), the current meanings of the constituents create a vivid and amusing picture of a foolish dog sitting under a tree and barking at it while the cat or the squirrel has long since escaped. But the actual meaning of the idiom is "to follow a false scent; to look for somebody or something in a wrong place; to expect from somebody what he is unlikely to do". The idiom is not infrequently used in detective stories: The police are barking up the wrong tree as usual (i. e. they suspect somebody who has nothing to do with the crime).

The ambiguousness of these interesting word-groups may lead to an amusing misunderstanding, especially for children who are apt to accept words at their face value.

Little Johnnie (crying): Mummy, mummy, my auntie Jane is dead.

Mother: Nonsense, child! She phoned me exactly five minutes ago.

Johnnie: But I heard Mrs. Brown say that her neighbours cut her dead.

(To cut somebody dead means "to rudely ignore somebody; to pretend not to know or recognize him".) Puns are frequently based on the ambiguousness of idioms:

 

"Isn't our Kate a marvel! I wish you could have seen her at the Harrisons' party yesterday. If I'd collected the bricks she dropped all over the place, I could build a villa."

(To drop a brick means "to say unintentionally a quite indiscreet or tactless thing that shocks and offends people".)

So, together with synonymy and antonymy, phraseology represents expressive resources of vocabulary.

V. H. Collins writes in his Book of English Idioms: "In standard spoken and written English today idiom is an established and essential element that, used with care, ornaments and enriches the language." [26]

Used with care is an important warning because speech overloaded with idioms loses its freshness and originality. Idioms, after all, are ready-made speech units, and their continual repetition sometimes wears them out: they lose their colours and become trite cliches. Such idioms can hardly be said to "ornament" or "enrich the language".

On the other hand, oral or written speech lacking idioms loses much in expressiveness, colour and emotional force.

In modern linguistics, there is considerable confusion about the terminology associated with these word-groups. Most Russian scholars use the term "phraseological unit" ("фразеологическая единица") which was first introduced by Academician V. V. Vinogradov whose contribution to the theory of Russian phraseology cannot be overestimated. The term "idiom" widely used by western scholars has comparatively recently found its way into Russian phraseology but is applied mostly to only a certain type of phraseological unit as it will be clear from further explanations.

There are some other terms denoting more or less the same linguistic phenomenon: set-expressions, set-phrases, phrases, fixed word-groups, collocations.

The confusion in the terminology reflects insufficiency of positive or wholly reliable criteria by which phraseological units can be distinguished from "free" word-groups.

It should be pointed out at once that the "freedom" of free word-groups is relative and arbitrary. Nothing is entirely "free" in speech as its linear relationships are governed, restricted and regulated, on the one hand, by requirements of logic and common sense and, on the other, by the rules of grammar and combinability. One can speak of a black-eyed girl but not of a black-eyed table (unless in a piece of modernistic poetry where anything is possible). Also, to say the child was glad is quite correct, but a glad child is wrong because in Modern English glad is attributively used only with a very limited number of nouns (e. g. glad news), and names of persons are not among them.

Free word-groups are so called not because of any absolute freedom in using them but simply because they are each time built up anew in the speech process whereas idioms are used as ready-made units with fixed and constant structures.

 


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