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(1) The phraseological composition of language (see ).

(2) The branch of linguistics that studies the phraseological composition of language in its existing state and its historical development. Linguists specializing in phraseology distinguish phraseological units from word groups formed but not regularly used in speech, and on this basis define the features of phraseological units.

The scope of phraseology is broadest when phraseological units are defined by the criterion of regular usage in a fixed form, independently of the semantic unity of the word group or of the word group’s divisibility into the meanings of its component words. The scope of phraseology is also broadest when such usage is independent of the nominative or communicative value of the unit. On the other hand, the scope of phraseology is narrowed when phraseological units are defined by the criteria of the semantic unity of the word group’s meaning and of the word group’s equivalence to a single word in terms of nominative function. Scholars disagree as to whether proverbs and sayings should be considered as phraseological units; the same disagreement applies to patterned word groups with an associated meaning, for example, vpadat’ v iarost’, vpadat’ v beshenstvo, and vpadat’ v vostorg (“to fall into a rage,” “to fly into a passion,” and “to go into raptures,” respectively).

Specialists in phraseology deal with a number of problems. Such specialists determine the extent to which phraseological units may be reduced to systems, and to this end they study the markers of phraseological units. They describe the synonymity, antonymity, polysemy, homonymy, and variants of phraseological units, and they determine the specific features of words and word meanings in phraseological units. Specialists in phraseology also define the correlation of phraseological units with parts of speech, determine the syntactic role of phraseological units, and study the formation of new word meanings in relation to phraseological context.

Some linguists affirm the existence of a distinctive phraseological level in language and concern themselves solely with analyzing systemic interrelationships among phraseological units. Other linguists examine phraseological units in their relationship with the entire lexical and semantic system of a language, with syntax, and with word formation. Specialists in phraseology also study the stylistic differences among phraseological units.

Various methods have been developed for the study of phraseological units. The synchronic classification method predominates in structural and semantic description. When emphasis is placed on the individual word components of phraseological units, research into the capacity of word components to form phrases predominates, as does a dynamic approach to the description of the structure of phraseological units. Other methods of classifying phraseological units correlate the structural elements of such units with free word groups. The techniques of distributional analysis are used to describe the interrelationships among the structural elements of phraseological units as well as the features of the units’ external environment.

The study of phraseology became a separate discipline in Soviet linguistics in the 1940’s and 1950’s owing to the work of V. V. Vinogradov and his school. Earlier studies in phraseology had been made by A. A. Potebnia, I. A. Baudouin de Courtenay, A. A. Shakhmatov, K. Brugmann, H. Paul, and O. Jesperson. These linguists had isolated closely related word groups in speech that were syntactically indivisible and that could not be semantically systematized. The theoretical foundations for the functional and semantic analysis of phraseological units within the framework of lexicology were laid by C. Bally.

The development of phraseology as a separate discipline was stimulated by Soviet research on lexical and semantic variation and its phraseological manifestations, as well as by an interpretation of the word group as a syntactic category equivalent in terms of nominative function to the word. This interpretation led to the study of fixed word groups as the structural foundations of the sentence.

Soviet linguists analyze the phraseological composition of languages with different structures, and primarily the national languages of the USSR. They use methods developed by different trends and schools in their study of phraseology. A center of phraseological studies founded at the University of Samarkand coordinates Soviet research on phraseology and publishes collections of studies on phraseology.


Vinogradov, V. V. “Osnovnye poniatiia russkoi frazeologii kak lingvisticheskoi distsipliny.” In Trudy Iubileinoi nauchnoi sessii LGU [1819–1944]. Leningrad, 1946.
Bally, C. Frantsuzskaia stilistika. Moscow, 1961. (Translated from French.)
Roizenzon, L. I., and M. A. Pekler. “Materialy k obshchei bibliografii po voprosam frazeologii.” In the collection Voprosy frazeologii. Tashkent, 1965.
Roizenzon, L. I., and A. M. Bushui. Materialy k obshchei bibliografii po voprosam frazeologii. Trudy Samarkandskogo gos. un-ta: Novaiaseriia, no. 196, fasc. 2. Samarkand, 1970.
Bibliograficheskii ukazatel’ literatury po voprosam frazeologii, fasc. 3. Samarkand, 1974.


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