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Knowledge structures representation in phraseological units

 

Analyzing the semantic structure of phraseological units (PhU), we come to the conclusion that they differ on degree of relevance to the plot, namely:

PhU with an irrelevant plot, or facultative and fable, the lexical components of which possess the independent figurative senses, and the figurative motivation is clear also without knowledge of the plot (to cast the first stone, daily bread);

PhU with a high-relevant plot, or a fable, characterized by direct dependence of figurative motivation on degree of popularity of the background plot (Pandora's box, Solomons wisdom, Sodom and Gomorrah, Cassandras warnings, a thread of Ariadne);

The intermediate group PhU with a low-relevant plot at which components of phraseological meaning is reproduced generally but figurative motivation isn't clear up to the end without knowledge of the plot (to cut the Gordian knot, to worship the golden calf].

Such PhU can be considered as hints to the background plots; background plots, being reduced in respect of expression, perform function of signs of these or those situations.

Other important source of interpretation of the precedential texts functioning in the form of fable, PhU is the antique mythology. The antique mythology is meant mainly as mythology of the Ancient Greek, early acquired and adapted for the beliefs by ancient Romans. Since registration of the Roman literature as written (in the middle of III century BC) there was almost complete merge of the Roman gods to the Greek.

It seems to us justified to distinguish a separate group of antique PhU which are differentiated with an onomastic component that is a signal of a certain code, a hint, the reference to a plot: Achilles' heel, between Scylla and Charybdis, Platonic love, Lucullian feast.

Let's consider representation of religious and mythological structures of knowledge in the PhU. As it was already noted, PhU representing structures of knowledge of religious and mythological nature represent the most numerous group:

PhU representing structures of knowledge of religious nature: brand of Cain, Solomons wisdom, Jacobs ladder, old as Methuselah. Judass kiss, doubting Thomas, Jonahs gourd, drive like Jehu, old Adam; Sodom and Gomorrah, Apple of Sodom, flesh-pots of Egypt, tower of Babel, balm on Gilead, land of Nod; kill the fatted calf, golden calf, cast pearls before swine, like a lamb to the slaughter, wolf in sheep's clothing, lion in the path, fly in the ointment, lost sheep; to be at ease in Zion, garden of Eden, gift of Magi, touch the ark, Noahs Arch, manna from heaven; land of promise, bear ones cross; grain of mustard seed, all flesh is grass, flourish like tree, tree of knowledge, corn in Egypt, quench the ax to the root of smth., forbidden fruit, crown of thorns;

PhU representing structures of knowledge of mythological nature: Achilles' heel; Apple of discord; Augean stable(s); golden age; labor of Hercules; labor of Sisyphus; Lares and Penates; thread of Ariadne; between Scylla and Charybdis; Homeric laughter; Penelope's web; like a Trojan; Trojan Horse; Gordian knot;

Let's consider some of them in more details. For example:

Golden calf - "the gold calf", means a money power and riches. A gold calf to whom according to the Bible, Jews worshipped. Now this expression is used for representation of false generation devoted to material things, but not God:

The bourgeois mind is instantly prostrated before the golden calf of commercial prosperity (Dreiser, Sister Carry)

A massacre of innocents death of innocent people, murder not of guilty people. According to a Bible legend, the tsar of Judea Herod have foretold that in Bethlehem the baby who in the future will become a tsar was born. Jesus Christ was this baby. The tyrant was frightened that will lose a throne and has ordered to kill all children of babies up to two years in Bethlehem. This PhU is often used also in the literary text.

A band had been crossing just at the moment of the engines passage. The pathos of it was beyond expression. It was a slaughter, massacre of innocents (Norris, The Octopus].

Using it is PhU a massacre of innocents, which implements a sign death of the innocent, the author shows that the victims of actions of gang, wars, generally are innocent people that is one of the greatest accidents of mankind.

A forbidden fruit (forbidden fruit) the pleasure or pleasure which isn't approved or isn't allowed and is possible therefore more pleasant. This PhU sends to a bible legend of Adam and Eve's exile from the Eden for the fact that they have eaten knowledge Tree fruits. Having broken the ban, people have learned what is troubles, diseases, a sin and death. God had to banish them from the Garden of Eden, and they could return back any more. Then Adam and Eve have understood that life without God is full of a grief, tears and misfortunes, but it was too late:

It is somewhat ironic that many places which need water most critically have huge reserves in their front yard-California and Texas for example. Yet the salt in "sea water makes it a forbidden fruit.

Thus, in phraseology of English there are numerous PhU representing structures of knowledge of mythological and religious character presented. As has shown the analysis of language units, the most frequent units are allusive PhU which are marked by an onomastic component (antroponym, toponym, zoonym, mythologeme, etc.) that is a signal of a certain code, a hint, the reference to the plot: Achilles' heel, between Scylla and Charybdis, Pandoras box, Cains brand, to worship the golden calf, Sodom and Gomorrah. Now it is known that the total number of dictionary entries representing expressions of the antique and religious origin is about 5000.

The list of used literature:

1.     Dreiser T. Sister Carrie.