Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 15 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Speaking a language with any degree of fluency requires a knowledge of idioms, proverbs, slang, fixed expressions, and other speech formulas. A traditional view of idioms and related speech formulas sees these phrases as bits and pieces of fossilized language. Yet idiomatic/proverbial phrases are not mere linguistic ornaments, intended to dress up a person's speech style, but are an integral part of the language that eases social interaction, enhances textual coherence, and, quite importantly, reflect fundamental patterns of human thought. There are major debates and numerous proposals on how best to define idiomaticity and formulaic language. One working definition suggests that formulaic language is “a sequence, continuous or discontinuous, of words or other meaning elements, which is, or appears to be prefabricated: that is, stored and retrieved whole from memory at the time of use, rather than being subject to generation or analysis by the language grammar.” The empirical study of idioms, proverbs, and related speech formulas in cognitive linguistics and psycholinguistics provides considerable evidence against the idea that idioms are fixed expressions or “dead” metaphors.

Keywords: idioms, formulaic language, proverbs, fixed expressions, speech formulas, cognitive linguistics, psycholinguistics, idiomaticity

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.