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Substitution as a Means of Producing Context-Specific Meaning of an Idiom

Olehnovica, I.; Olehnovics, D.; Ikere, Z.
The paper discusses the use of idioms in British newspapers focusing particularly on the substitution of components aimed at producing context-specific idiomatic meaning. An idiom is a relatively stable (both grammatically and semantically), cohesive, conventionally fixed string of words with completely or partially figurative meaning, which is not a combination of a verb and an adverbial or prepositional particle and which is not longer than a sentence [1]. An idiom is a relatively stable unit of language because it is possible to introduce both structural and semantic variations both synchronically and diachronically. The study addresses substitution of components in idioms in the synchronic aspect only. Substitution of one or more components of idioms is one of those idiom variations in discourse that makes it more challenging for a reader to recall the base forms of idioms and thus perceive the intended meaning. The results of the statistical analysis of the corpus of the instances of idiom use in British newspapers testify to the fact that substitution as a pattern of idiom variation in newspaper discourse is not very productive: within the corpus of the idiom uses in newspaper discourse we have encountered 113 extracts (11, 3 % out of the whole corpus) containing idioms that have been subjected to substitution. The study is based on the approach to the study of idiom use in discourse developed by Naciscione [2,3] and the model of idiom analysis proposed by Langlotz [4], according to which discoursal idiom variations may be based on literal scene manipulation, topic indication, topic related literal scene manipulation and ambiguation. The data analysed testify to the fact that in the result of component substitution the meaning of an idiom may be intensified, weakened or specified.
SGEM Research areas:
Type of Publication:
In Proceedings
idiom; instantial stylistic use; substitution of component/s; literal scene; newspaper discourse
SGEM Book title:
7th SWS International Scientific Conference on Arts And Humanities - ISCAH 2020
Book number:
SGEM Series:
SWS International Scientific Conferences on ART and HUMANITIES - ISCAH
Publisher address:
51 Al. Malinov blvd, Sofia, 1712, Bulgaria
SGEM supporters:
SWS Scholarly Society; Acad Sci Czech Republ; Latvian Acad Sci; Polish Acad Sci; Russian Acad Sci; Serbian Acad Sci & Arts; Natl Acad Sci Ukraine; Natl Acad Sci Armenia; Sci Council Japan; European Acad Sci, Arts & Letters; Acad Fine Arts Zagreb Croatia; C
26-27 October, 2020,
7th SWS International Scientific Conference on Arts And Humanities - ISCAH 2020, 26-27 October, 2020
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