LINGUIST List 11.1952

Sat Sep 16 2000

Qs: Modified Idioms

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  1. Flor Mena, modified idioms

Message 1: modified idioms

Date: Fri, 15 Sep 2000 11:17:21 +0200
From: Flor Mena <>
Subject: modified idioms

Dear linguists,

I am doing some research on the creative modifications of idiomatic
expressions. I mean those modifications which are not
institutionalized. These expressions may be creatively modified (or
exploited, as some scholars call this phenomenon) by replacing one
word or the whole expression with a synonym, by adding a new term, by
substituting an item by a homophone, by implying both the idiomatic
and the literal meanings in that specific context, etc.....Some
examples would be : "You can take an alcoholic to the psychriatist,
but you can't stop him drinking" out of "You can take a horse to the
water, but you can't make it drink". "Every silver lining has a
cloud"; "tawdriness is in the eye of the beholder"; "my lips are
zipped" out of "my lips are sealed"...... The expressions that come
out of these changes (the modified versions) normally do not become
institutionalized, and therefore they do not appear in
dictionaries. They represent an occasional and creative use of these
fixed expressions.

 I wonder if anyone knows where (newspapers, magazines, books....) I
can find these type of expressions. 

Thanks in advance,
Flor Mena
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