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Lexicon of Common Figurative Units

Widespread Idioms in Europe and Beyond. Volume II


Elisabeth Piirainen

The book continues the work of Widespread Idioms in Europe and Beyond (2012) and also brings new insights into the similarities of the European languages. Using comprehensive data from 78 European and some non-European languages, another 280 “widespread idioms” have been analyzed in terms of their distribution and origins. They are arranged according to their source domains (for example, performing arts, sports, history, war, technology, money, folk belief, medical skills, gestures, and nature). Among them are very modern layers of a common figurative lexicon, including quotes of personalities of recent times. Thorough research on the sources of these idioms goes beyond the entries in relevant reference works and brings new and unpredictable results. All of the data in this book adds new knowledge to the fields of language and culture. We now know which Europe-wide common idioms actually constitute a “Lexicon of Common Figurative Units” and which chronological and cultural layers they may be assigned to. The question about the causes of the wide spread of idioms across many languages now can partly be answered.

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2 Theater, Music, Sports and Games


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2.1 Arts and Entertainment as Source Domains: Introduction

This chapter deals with widespread idioms that have their origin in source domains such as performing art and entertainment. The bulk of it concerns performing arts (mainly THEATER and MUSIC). The main source frame is entertainment performed in front of an audience (including SPORTS) and related domains like GAMES and GAMBLING. By contrast to the idioms discussed in “WI Volume I”, these idioms do not go back to literary or other written works but are rooted in creative features of mental and social culture in other ways. My subdivision follows the underlying kinds of performance and/or entertainment and pastime, which leads to three different sections: Section 2.2 will deal with idioms from the domains of theater and music. This section is called Stage Production and Music (G 1 – G 8). It is followed by idioms that originate in much more recent entertainment domains, namely Sports in Section 2.3 (G 10 – G 15) and idioms that originate in other kinds of leisure activity in Section 2.4, Games and Gambling (G 16 – G 20). All these source domains have left clear traces in the “Lexicon of Common Figurative Units”. ← 29 | 30 →

2.2 Stage Production and Music (G 1 – G 8)

The concept THEATER is found in figurative units of various languages. Let me just recall the famous Shakespearean quote “All the world’s a stage”.1 This image exists in a similar form in the well-established...

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