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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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13 Textual Sources from Ancient, Medieval and Modern Times—Supplement to “WI Volume I”


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13.1 Intertextuality as Source Domain: Introduction

In my book “Widespread Idioms in Europe and Beyond” (2012), I looked at those WIs that originate from an identifiable text and thus can be analyzed in terms of intertextuality. At that time, neither was I able to identify all existing widespread idioms of intertextual origin, nor was it my objective to achieve completeness. But since then I have continued to strive to find widespread idioms and among the new ones of the present book there are certainly a number of idioms that primarily go back to a textual source.

The arrangement of the WIs of this second Volume follows, in principle, the source concepts from which the idioms originate—source domains or frames which can be derived from the idioms’ lexical structure for the most part. Several idioms, however, can be associated with a particular source text as well and I had to decide in which chapter the idiom would fit best. An example is (G 8) to sing the same (old) song ‘to consistently repeat the same things’ which was already used by various ancient writers in a similar wording (Latin cantilenam eandem canis “you sing the same song”) and figurative meaning ‘to constantly repeat (the same) things’ so that I could have subsumed it under intertextual sources. Due to its lexical structure and a modern parallel, to play ← 575 | 576 → the same record, I decided to discuss it in Section 2.2 along with other...

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