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Studies in Formal Linguistics

Universal Patterns and Language Specific Parameters

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Edited By Anna Bloch-Rozmej and Anna Bondaruk

This book investigates the nature and consequences of universal principles in four major grammar components, i.e. syntax, phonology, morphology and semantics. Language specific parameters are held responsible for the attested variation. The papers collected in this book analyse selected phenomena from English, Hungarian, Irish, Italian, Japanese, and Polish, and shed new light on the interaction of universals and parameters in the structure of individual language systems. The generative framework is adopted as the theoretical model in the majority of contributions.

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Chapter 7 Idioms: The Interplay of Domains or a No-Man’s-Land? (Joanna Kolbusz-Buda)

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Joanna Kolbusz-Buda

Siedlce University of Natural Sciences and Humanities

Chapter 7 Idioms: The Interplay of Domains or a No-Man’s-Land?*

Abstract: Idioms have never been a typologically unequivocal language phenomenon. Their linguistic DNA reveals seemingly irreconcilable properties. On the one hand, idioms seem to possess a syntactic structure, while on the other hand, they exhibit a unitary and word-like nature. Moreover, their idiosyncratic character makes them perfectly suited for lexical listing. In consequence, their formal status spreads across two separate domains – syntax and morphology. However, in the past they were often considered ‘long words’ due to their non-compositionality, not only not occupying a prominent place in the discussion on word-formation as such, but also practically absent from one of its weighty aspects, being the interplay of morphology and syntax in word-formation. Perhaps, after such word-formation types as, for instance, synthetic compounds and phrasal compounds, in the design of which the contribution of syntax has been recognised, now the time has come for the family of idioms.

Keywords: morphology-syntax interface, idiom variability, fixedness, compositionality

1. Introduction

Idioms have never been a typologically unequivocal language phenomenon. Their linguistic DNA reveals seemingly irreconcilable properties. On the one hand, idioms seem to possess a syntactic structure, while on the other hand, they exhibit a unitary and word-like nature. Moreover, their idiosyncratic character makes them perfectly suited for lexical listing. In consequence, their formal status spreads across two separate domains – syntax...

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