The peculiarities of the phraseology of English from a contrastive perspective

The outstanding work on Widespread Idioms in Europe and Beyond by Elizabeth Piirainen (see references) shows the full extent of the common phraseological stock and questions, somehow, the traditional view of idioms as peculiar to a given language.

Even though the amount and variety of idiomatic expressions shared by hundreds of languages is considerable, each linguistic community has developed along the centuries its own peculiarities concerning specific image components but also special traits of the lexico-grammar of its phraseology.

The main objective of this research project is to spot idioms that are specific to English or, at least, that make English stand out from the rest of the European languages.

The collection of English idioms that will make up the different lists for collaborators will be organised from an onomasiological perspective and selected under two main criteria: a) traditional or modern idioms that are commonly used among native speakers of English today and b) idioms that have not served as a model for loan translations in other languages, based on my own research on phraseological loan translations and on the research of other scholars (see references).

The starting point is a selection of English idioms that have either a non-idiomatic equivalent or an entirely different image component in French and Spanish, used here as the benchmark languages. Scholars and native speakers of other European languages will be able to decide whether the idioms in question have or have not a full or semi-full equivalent in their own language and in the case of non-equivalence, provide a traditional and common idiom together with a literal translation into English (recent potential loan translations should be rejected). Collaborators will be asked to supply at least one equivalent in their own language for the lists of English idioms that will be sent to them.

This is then a research project on the peculiarities of the phraseology of English based on a thorough contrastive analysis of various languages belonging to several families. A common method ensuring comparability between all the languages involved will be favoured as well as the use of very large comparable corpora to check for relevance, topicality and levels of frequency. As coordinator, I will oversee the whole project myself but I will be assisted by Alicja Witalisz, associate professor of English Linguistics at the Pedagogical University of Krakow, Poland, and Gisle Andersen, professor of English linguistics at the University of Bergen, Norway, for consultation on Slavic and Germanic languages respectively.

Scholars interested in collaborating on this project should send their application to Ramón Martí Solano, associate professor of English linguistics at the University of Limoges, France, at .

The results of this project will lay the foundations for a future EUROPHRAS conference and for one or several publications resulting from the selection of papers given at the conference.



Andersen, Gisle. 2020. Feel Free To… A Comparative study of phraseological borrowing. In M. Szczyrbak & A. Tereszkiewicz (eds) Languages in Contact and Contrast. A Festschrift for Professor Elżbieta Mańczak-Wohlfeld on the Occasion of her 70th Birthday. Krakow: Jagiellonian University Press. 49-66.

Fiedler, S. 2014. Gläserne Decke und Elefant im Raum. Phraseologische Anglizismen im Deutschen. Berlin: Logos.

Martí Solano, R. & Kolarova, M. 2015. Phraseological loan translations in Bulgarian and in French: a cross-linguistic and cross-cultural study. Съпоставително езикознание [Contrastive Linguistics] 3. 9-31.

Martí Solano, R. 2012. Multi-word loan translations and semantic borrowings in French journalistic discourse. In C. Furiassi, V. Pulcini & F. Rodríguez González (eds) The Anglicization of European Lexis. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 199-215.

Martí Solano, R. 2013. Calquing and Borrowing of Idiomatic Noun Compounds. In M. Fabčič, S. Fiedler & J. Szerszunowicz (eds) Phraseologie im interlingualen und interkulturellen Kontakt/Phraseology in Interlingual and Intercultural Contact. Maribor: Zora 95. 239-250.

Martí Solano, R. 2017. El “estado del arte” de los calcos fraseológicos en español. In C. Mellado Blanco, K. Berty & I. Olza (eds) Discurso repetido y fraseología textual (español y español-alemán). Madrid: Iberoamericana. 209-230.

Oncins-Martínez, J. L. 2014. English Idioms Borrowed and Reshaped: The Emergence of a Hybrid Metaphor in Spanish. In A. Musolff, F. MacArthur & G. Pagani (eds) Metaphor and Intercultural Communication. London: Bloomsbury. 149-166.

Piirainen, E. 2012. Widespread Idioms in Europe and Beyond: Toward a Lexicon of Common Figurative Units. New York: Peter Lang.

Piirainen, E. 2016. Lexicon of Common Figurative Units. Widespread Idioms in Europe and Beyond Volume II. New York: Peter Lang.

Veisbergs, A. 2012. Phraseological Borrowing. Berlin: Logos Verlag.

Witalisz, A. 2015. English Loan Translations in Polish: Word-formation Patterns, Lexicalization, Idiomaticity and Institutionalization. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.