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CHAPTER 1 3

Phraseology: Principles of Classification

It would be interesting now to look at phraseological units from a different angle, namely: how are all these treasures of the language approached by the linguistic science? The very miscellaneous nature of these units suggests the first course of action: they must be sorted out and arranged in certain classes which possess identical characteristics.

But which characteristics should be chosen as the main criteria for such a classification system? The structural? The semantic? Those of degree of stability? Of origin?

It should be clear from the previous description that a phraseological unit is a complex phenomenon with a number of important features, which can therefore be approached from different points of view. Hence, there exist a considerable number of different classification systems devised by different scholars and based on different principles.

The traditional and oldest principle for classifying phraseological units is based on their original content and might be alluded to as "thematic" (although the term is not universally accepted). The approach is widely used in numerous English and American guides to idiom, phrase books, etc. On this principle, idioms are classified according to their sources of origin, "source" referring to the particular sphere of human activity, of life of nature, of natural phenomena, etc. So, L. P. Smith gives in his classification groups of idioms used by

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