Before analyzing the language material of this paper, we consider it important to clarify the concept of idiom in Modern Linguistics. There are many definitions of the term «idiom», and we will try to present the most widely used and universally accepted definitions with references to their authors.
If you look up the word ‘idiom’ in different dictionaries and manuals you will be given the following definitions:
Phraseological unit (idiom) is a stable combination of words with a fully or partially figurative meaning.
Idioms are distinguished from phrasemes by the idiomaticity of the whole word-group (e.g. red tape — ‘bureaucratic methods’) and the impossibility of attaching meaning to the members of the group taken in isolation. Idioms are semantically and grammatically inseparable units. They may comprise unusual combinations of words which when understood in their literal meaning are normally unallocable as, e.g. mare’s nest (a mare — ‘a female horse’, a mare’s nest — ‘a hoax, a discovery which proves false or worthless’). Unusualness of collocability or logical incompatibility of member-words is indicative of the idiomaticity of the phrase.
Idioms made up of words normally brought together are homonymous with corresponding variable word-groups, e.g. to let the cat out of the bag — ‘to divulge a secret’, and the clue to the idiomatic meaning is to be found in a wider context outside the phrase itself. Here are several definitions of the term by different authors:
Idiom — a group of words (an expression) whose meaning is different from the meaning of the individual words.
Idiom is an expression in the usage of a language that has a meaning that cannot be derived from the conjoined meanings of its elements (e.g. raining cats and dogs).
Idiom is an expression, that is a term or phrase whose meaning cannot be deduced from the literal definitions and the arrangement of its parts, but refers instead to a figurative meaning that is known only through common use. Supposedly, in linguistics, idioms are widely assumed to be figures of speech that contradict the principle of compositionality; however, this has shown to be a subject of debate.
It may be better to refer to idioms as John Saeed does: words collocated together happen to become fossilized, becoming fixed over time. This collocation — words commonly used in a group — changes the definition of each of the words that exist. As an expression, the word-group becomes a team, so to speak. That is, the collocated words develop a specialized meaning as a whole and an idiom is born e.g. He really threw me a curve when on our first date he asked if I could pay for the dinner. Note, in some cultures, when a man and a woman are courting each other, the male is traditionally the one who takes up the bill or pays the bill; however, times change and in many modern societies, a lot of couples go Dutch-to share the cost of a meal or some other event. (yet another idiom).
Idiom — a sequence of words which functions semantically as a unit and with an unpredictable meaning. This is generally accompanied by a degree of syntactic restriction.
Idiom — phrase or sentence whose meaning isn’t obvious through knowledge of the individual meanings of the constituent words but must be learnt as a whole.
Idiom — is a group of words that, taken as a whole, has a meaning different from that of the sum of the individual words.
Idiom — an expression that does not mean what it literally says, as to have the upper hand has nothing to do with hands. Note: Idioms are peculiar to a given language and usually cannot be translated literally.
Idiom — a phrase or expression that means something different from what the words actually say. An idiom is usually understandable to a particular group of people.
As we have already mentioned English is a language particularly rich in idioms — those modes of expression peculiar to a language (or dialect) which frequently defy logical and grammatical rules. Without idioms English would lose much of its variety and humor both in speech and writing.
The background and etymological origins of most idioms is at best obscure. This is the reason why a study of differences between the idioms of American and British English is somewhat difficult.
But it also makes the cases, where background, etymology and history are known, even more interesting. Some idioms of the "worldwide English" have first been seen in the works of writers like Shakespeare, Sir Walter Scott, and Lewis Carroll or even in the paperbacks of contemporary novelists. An example of Shakespearian quotation can be found in the following sentence: "As a social worker, you certainly see the seamy side of life," where «seamy side of life» means «изнанка жизни».
Summing up the above definitions of the term «idiom», we in our work will accept the following definition: an idiom is a stable word group with partially or fully transferred meaning.