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Seeking the nature of idioms: a study in idiomatic structure

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Title: Seeking the nature of idioms: a study in idiomatic structure
Author: Ifill, Tim
Advisor: Fernald, Theodore B.
Department: Swarthmore College. Dept. of Linguistics
Type: Thesis (B.A.)
Running Time: 157879 bytes53310 bytes
Issue Date: 2003
Abstract: This thesis examines the internal structure of idioms. An idiom is a fixed expression whose meaning can not be taken as a combination of the meanings of its component parts. It first shows that idioms must be included as part of the lexicon and that they do in fact have an internal structure, and once this is done examines what that structure might actually look like. The thesis argues that an idiom's structure is directly related to the structure of the idiom's non-idiomatic literal counterpart (or paraphrase). Put simply, an idiom's syntactic behavior is limited to the syntactic behavior of its literal counterpart. Idioms are an essential part of language (each speaker commands tens of thousands of them), and thus the study of their structure gives insight into the nature of figurative language and of language itself.
Subject: Idioms
Access Restrictions: Open Access
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Ifill, Tim. "Seeking the nature of idioms: a study in idiomatic structure". 2003. Available electronically from

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