Publication details [#4170]

Dobrovol'skij, Dmitrij and Elisabeth Piirainen. 2007. Cultural knowledge and idioms. International Journal of English Studies 6 (1) : 27–41. 15 pp.


The most salient features of conventional figurative units such as idioms cannot be captured without addressing cultural knowledge. Underlying conceptual metaphors (as developed in the scope of the Cognitive Theory of Metaphor) are not the only linguistically relevant type of knowledge. In order to describe how idioms function and to uncover their specific semantic and pragmatic features, one has to take into account other concepts as well, above all culturally based concepts which govern the inference from literal to figurative. Being irregular units of the lexicon idioms cannot be sufficiently described by metalinguistic instruments designed for capturing regular mechanisms of metaphor production. What is needed is a theory specially designed to describe the irregularities of idioms. To develop such a theory is the main aim of modern idiom research. This paper should be viewed as a contribution to such a theory, which we label the Conventional Figurative Language Theory. (Adapted from the source document) (LLBA, (c) CSA [2007]. All rights reserved.)