Prof. A.I. Smirnitsky worked out structural classification of phraseological units, comparing them with words. He points out one-top units which he compares with derived words because derived words have only one root morpheme. He points out two-top units which he compares with compound words because in compound words we usually have two root morphemes.
Among one-top units he points out three structural types;
a) units of the type «to give up» (verb + postposition type), e.g. to art up, to back up, to drop out, to nose out, to buy into, to sandwich in etc.;
b) units of the type «to be tired» . Some of these units remind the Passive Voice in their structure but they have different prepositons with them, while in the Passive Voice we can have only prepositions «by» or «with», e.g. to be tired of, to be interested in, to be surprised at etc. There are also units in this type which remind free word-groups of the type «to be young», e.g. to be akin to, to be aware of etc. The difference between them is that the adjective «young» can be used as an attribute and as a predicative in a sentence, while the nominal component in such units can act only as a predicative. In these units the verb is the grammar centre and the second component is the semantic centre;
c) prepositional- nominal phraseological units. These units are equivalents of unchangeable words: prepositions, conjunctions, adverbs , that is why they have no grammar centre, their semantic centre is the nominal part, e.g. on the doorstep (quite near), on the nose (exactly), in the course of, on the stroke of, in time, on the point of etc. In the course of time such units can become words, e.g. tomorrow, instead etc.
Among two-top units A.I. Smirnitsky points out the following structural types:
a) attributive-nominal such as: a month of Sundays, grey matter, a millstone round one’s neck and many others. Units of this type are noun equivalents and can be partly or perfectly idiomatic. In partly idiomatic units (phrasisms) sometimes the first component is idiomatic, e.g. high road, in other cases the second component is idiomatic, e.g. first night. In many cases both components are idiomatic, e.g. red tape, blind alley, bed of nail, shot in the arm and many others.
b) verb-nominal phraseological units, e.g. to read between the lines , to speak BBC, to sweep under the carpet etc. The grammar centre of such units is the verb, the semantic centre in many cases is the nominal component, e.g. to fall in love. In some units the verb is both the grammar and the semantic centre, e.g. not to know the ropes. These units can be perfectly idiomatic as well, e.g. to burn one’s boats,to vote with one’s feet, to take to the cleaners’ etc.
Very close to such units are word-groups of the type to have a glance, to have a smoke. These units are not idiomatic and are treated in grammar as a special syntactical combination, a kind of aspect.
c) phraseological repetitions, such as : now or never, part and parcel , country and western etc. Such units can be built on antonyms, e.g. ups and downs , back and forth; often they are formed by means of alliteration, e.g cakes and ale, as busy as a bee. Components in repetitions are joined by means of conjunctions. These units are equivalents of adverbs or adjectives and have no grammar centre. They can also be partly or perfectly idiomatic, e.g. cool as a cucumber (partly), bread and butter (perfectly).
Phraseological units the same as compound words can have more than two tops (stems in compound words), e.g. to take a back seat, a peg to hang a thing on, lock, stock and barrel, to be a shaddow of one’s own self, at one’s own sweet will.
OF PHRASEOLOGICAL UNITS
Phraseological units can be clasified as parts of speech. This classification was suggested by I.V. Arnold. Here we have the following groups:
a) noun phraseologisms denoting an object, a person, a living being, e.g. bullet train, latchkey child, redbrick university, Green Berets,
b) verb phraseologisms denoting an action, a state, a feeling, e.g. to break the log-jam, to get on somebody’s coattails, to be on the beam, to nose out , to make headlines,
c) adjective phraseologisms denoting a quality, e.g. loose as a goose, dull as lead ,
d) adverb phraseological units, such as : with a bump, in the soup, like a dream , like a dog with two tails,
e) preposition phraseological units, e.g. in the course of, on the stroke of ,
f) interjection phraseological units, e.g. «Catch me!», «Well, I never!» etc.
In I.V.Arnold’s classification there are also sentence equivalents, proverbs, sayings and quatations, e.g. «The sky is the limit», «What makes him tick», » I am easy». Proverbs are usually metaphorical, e.g. «Too many cooks spoil the broth», while sayings are as a rule non-metaphorical, e.g. «Where there is a will there is a way».
Borrowing words from other languages is characteristic of English throughout its history More than two thirds of the English vocabulary are borrowings. Mostly they are words of Romanic origin (Latin, French, Italian, Spanish). Borrowed words are different from native ones by their phonetic structure, by their morphological structure and also by their grammatical forms. It is also characterisitic of borrowings to be non-motivated semantically.
English history is very rich in different types of contacts with other countries, that is why it is very rich in borrowings. The Roman invasion, the adoption of Cristianity, Scandinavian and Norman conquests of the British Isles, the development of British colonialism and trade and cultural relations served to increase immensely the English vocabulary. The majority of these borrowings are fully assimilated in English in their pronunciation, grammar, spelling and can be hardly distinguished from native words.
English continues to take in foreign words , but now the quantity of borrowings is not so abundunt as it was before. All the more so, English now has become a «giving» language, it has become Lingva franca of the twentieth century.
Borrowings can be classified according to different criteria:
a) according to the aspect which is borrowed,
b) according to the degree of assimilation,
c) according to the language from which the word was borrowed.
(In this classification only the main languages from which words were borrowed into English are described, such as Latin, French, Italian. Spanish, German and Russian.)