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Idioms and Fixed Expressions in English Language Study before 1800

A Contribution to English Historical Phraseology


Gabriele Knappe

This study represents the first critical examination of the contexts and ways in which idioms and fixed expressions of two or more words (phraseological units) such as let sleeping dogs lie, try one’s luck or at hand were collected, commented upon and also analysed by English language scholars between about 1440 and 1800. The large-scale investigation surveys theoretical and practical approaches including proverb studies, treatises on rhetoric and style, foreign-language teaching, collections of phrases, bilingual and monolingual lexicography, translation, universal and philosophical language schemes, shorthand systems and English grammar books. This pioneering study is intended to contribute to the formation of English historical phraseology as a new subdiscipline in English linguistics.
Contents: Phraseological units (idioms and fixed expressions of two or more words) treated in English language study up to 1800 – Areas of investigation include: proverbs both as topoi and objects of collection – The art of style – Foreign-language teaching – Bilingual and monolingual lexicography – Translation – Philosophical and universal language schemes – Grammar.