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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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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Piirainen, Elisabeth. Widespread idioms in Europe and beyond: toward a lexicon of common figurative units / Elisabeth Piirainen. p. cm. — (International folkloristics; v. 5) Includes bibliographical references and index. 1. Idioms. 2. Figures of speech. 3. Language and languages—Globalization. 4. Language and languages—Foreign words and phrases. 5. Language and languages—Cross cultural studies. 6. Intertextuality. I. Title. P301.5.I34P55 418—dc23 2012013834 ISBN 978-1-4331-0579-1 (hardcover) | ISBN 978-1-4539-0845-7 (ebook) ISSN 1528-6533

Lexicon of common figurative units: widespread idioms in Europe and beyond—Vol. II / Elisabeth Piirainen; in cooperation with József Attila Balázsi. ISBN 978-1-4331-2969-8 (hardcover) | ISBN 978-1-4539-1528-8 (ebook pdf) ISBN 978-1-4331-3931-4 (epub) | ISBN 978-1-4331-3932-1 (mobi)

Bibliographic information published by Die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek. Die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists this publication in the “Deutsche Nationalbibliografie”; detailed bibliographic data are available on the Internet at

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