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Rational behind appropriate and inappropriate deviation from the idiom phrase norms

Recently, in the language, in particular, if we consider the functionality of the Kazakh language, there is a trend for appropriate and inappropriate application of idioms so firmly entrenched in the language that their semantics, as in a mirror, reflect the popular wisdom permeating the Millennium. This trend in the use of idioms mainly occurs in the press and in the speech of TV and radio journalists. However, in some cases, unjustified usage of the language idioms not only leads to a distortion of their meaning, but also to a violation of the norms of the language.

Masters of fiction literature when using idioms deliberately shortenthem and cut some words out introducing other ones «to fall» into a rhythm, rhyme with purpose to enrichtheir works with a particular stylistic coloring.

Literary language is always subject to the rules of artistic expression typical to the language of a particular nation. Meanwhile, the norms of the national language have their origins from the folk verbal creativity where artistic language is characterized by a wealth of imagery and synonymous series.

Many of the stylistic tools used in the literary language were borrowed from the spoken language created by the people themselves. However, the national heritage is not preserved in its original form, not remaining stationary, but being in the process of continuous development and subject to various changes. Today, in great abundancethe literary language started enjoying the introduction of words, phrases, phrasal fusions and stylistic tools corresponding to the new concepts emerged in recent years. In some cases, firmly established idioms in the language can be used through transformations in line with pursued certain goals[1, 123].

As a general rule, in order to interest and amuse his reader, the author aims to make maximum use of the richest means of the literary language. In many cases, the author modifiesidiom forms in accordance with the objectives and circumstances of communication focusing on the personality of his reader as the author searches constantly for the ways to affect his target audience. However, such attempts often fail and the reader loses his interest in further reading of the text. Therefore, paying attention to the composition of phraseology in some texts, you may find that the idioms operate with obsolete outdated words with obscure and confusing meaning from the perspective of the modern reader as well as the ones gone in a passive fund of the language and slang words and borrowings from other languages. Of course, idioms subject to such transformations may violate the language norms; however, the view that all deviations are doomed to failure seems to us wrong. Thus, the idioms turned into a template can be polished in a verbal workshop by an author finding «a new life» with capacity to influence the reader through new expressive facets. As a result of the issues, scholars tend to have different views regarding the deviation from the language norms.

For example, M.Balakaev and M.Sergaliev classify abnormalities as follows: «In the creative experience of the founders of the literary language there are two kinds of deviations from the norm:

  1. Relevant, suitable deviation;
  2. Inappropriate, irrational deviation.

Appropriate, suitable deviation is the use of the literary norm for specific purposes and the changes in anidiom as a whole occur due to presence of bright colors in its stylistic semantics. The deliberate and unjustified violation of literary norms as well as hasty and disorderedapplication without any motivation should be assumed as inappropriate, unreasonable deviation. Such attempts for word distortions must be constantly corrected» [2, 24]. Meanwhile, a prominent linguist R. Syzdykova in her monograph

«Language Norm and its Establishment» subdivides deviations from the literary norms into motivated and unmotivated ones and reveals 6main reasons for unmotivated deviations: 1) pursuing stylistic or other purposes, the use of dialect, colloquial words equivalent to the ones in the literary language caused due to the absence ofstandardized and nonstandardized units; 2) without any need creation of new synthetic forms for words and phrases,which semantically are not entirely successful; 3) desire to use «hackneyed» combinations, turned into clichés; 4) the use of words without knowing their meaning, especially older and infrequent words;

5) obsessive use of Arabic and Persian words and morphological elementsnot obeying the rules of literary language and outdated in terms of speech practice; 6) replacement of components of idioms fixed in the language during a long period of time as well as rearrangement of words in proverbs and sayings with purpose not to specify stylistics or comply with the task of poetry verse size, but just in normal narrative texts [3, 14].

N. Ualiev considering the issue, has divideddeviations from idiomatic norms into appropriate and inappropriate ones [4, 128].

Based on the abovementioned views of scientists, we have compiled a scheme in which the process of phraseology occasionalization is reflected as a result of appropriate and inappropriate deviations from the norms of idiomatic forms.

Idiomatic forms

Appropriate (suitable) deviations

Inappropriate (irrational) deviations

Occasional Idiomatic forms

Picture 1 – Process of idiom occasionalization

In our view, appropriate idiomatic forms of deviation from the norm are caused due to certain stylistic and aesthetic goals of the author to adequately impact on the listener. Meanwhile inappropriate deviation from the norm is the result of excessive enthusiasm to create artificial and absurd combinationsand proposals. For example: Watching the eclipse of the sun and moon, I mentally imagine when all that is good and unhappiness could happen on the earth (newspaper «Turkestan» fromJanuary 26, 2007)1. In this example, occasional phraseological form shan beru (lit.: barely able to catch, i.e. to glimpse, barely able to be seen) was created by the author through analogy with a similar meaning for the idiom kylan beru that according to the Kazakh language dictionary can be explained as follows: « just to be seen; dawn»; «to flicker, to show out (concerning dark subjects)» [5, 372]. Such deviations should be considered appropriate, ones justified from the norm.

Let’s consider the following example: Ruslan and Rustem laughed, as if mocking himself as an eyesore, they appeared to come from the family of so-called «sabbathers» about which newspapers and magazines wrote with great disapproval (republican newspaper «ZhasAlash» from January 30, 2008). The new application of «kozge tusken suyeldey» came from its analogy idiom «kozge suyel boldy», «kozge bіtken suyeldei» (lit.: became a callus in front, an eyesore) should be classified as inappropriate, unjustified deviation from standards. Despite the fact that the language of the press reflected the culture of the literary language, the various deviations from the norms of idiomatic forms of the literary language are most often found in the media sources.

If we analyze the features of media language, especially language of the press, it is clear that it is grounded information function to transmit sociallysignificant information. Journalistic style, unlike other functional language styles is peculiar for the intended purpose in exercising public functions and has a number of peculiar language features in this regard. A particular important role is played by the press in transmission of information in a simple precise language, in its turn, describing the facts with colorful and vivid way, i.e. playing all the shades of the words as the language of the media can only project to communicate through the public consciousness. Therefore, we believe it is rational to uselogicallysoundaswellasgeneratedintheimagery system of the Kazakh language, holistic idiomatic forms. However, unmotivated transformation of the whole structure of combinations and their use in an invariant form, often reducing them in contrast to the language norms, has a negative impact on the stylistic, expressive and emotional functions of the language and connotative meaning of language units.

In the language of modern journalism there are different types of word formation distinguished, among which the most frequent one is compression of idiomatic forms structurally in order to change their values or create occasionalism for copyright use. It should be noted that not all of the «metamorphosis» of words are successful and meet the stylistic purposes. For example: What can I say, he was clean and pure jigit, good-natured and open to all (lit.when he opens his mouth, the larynx is visible)(magazine «Zhuldyz», 2007).

The nature of our Kazakh ancestors, whose endless thoughts were as pure as the blue sky, the heart was open and free as the vast steppes, is very similar to these angels. The internal manifestation is kindness that comes from the heart and shining light (lit.: when he opens his mouth, the larynx is visible.), while external one is generosity, willingness to share all that he has (Қaзaқ әдебиеті – «Kazakh Literature», February 5, 2007). In the presented examples the phraseological expression «auzynashsakomkeeyikөrіnedі» (lit .:when he opens his mouth, the larynx is visible) is very similar in sound to the combination of «kөmekeyіbүlkіldeptұrady» (lit.is constantly bubbling throat) that is to say about gluttonous, insatiable man, while on good-natured and honest people we used to say «auzynashsazhүregіkөrіnedі» (lit.when he opens his mouth, the heart can be seen). All these examples show unjustified deviation from the norm of phraseological combinations.

A number of errors in the use of phraseological combinations are associated with changes in forms of words composingidioms. For example, substituting the combination «sіrkemsukөtermeitұr» (lit.:everything annoys me) on the opposite in meaning «sіrkesіsukөteredі» (on the contrary, it does not irritate, adequatelyperceivedwhatishappening), as well as replacement of «bet baқtyrmaydy» (lit.: did not yield to persuasion, to speak with) to «bet baқtyrady» (on the contrary, it served persuasion, listening), as well as «қoyauzynanshөpalmaydy» (a harmless man who would not hurt a flylit.a person who would not dare to take grass out of sheep’s mouth) to «қoy auzynan shөpaladi» (on the contrary, the person capable of villainy) are not acceptable [2, 96].

We consider it legitimate to focus on the kinds of appropriate and inappropriate deviations from the language rules in the process of occasionalization, the author’s word creation. The master of artistic wording converts idioms for a specific purpose – instead of the expected standardthere is unexpected compatibility of word units. As part of some phraseological expressionsthere are harsh words found, which the author seeks to convey in a more neutral, and sometimes, courteous manner. For example, based on anidiom (lit.:strikingwith knife on the litter), which means «getting angry for what he did,» the author by replacing the words creates another combination – тезегін пышaқтaдыwhere the wordshitis replaced by litter, which sounds now not so rude unlike itstraditionalcounterpartбоғын пышaқтaды. In our opinion, this neoplasm should be considered as unjustified and unfortunate, as the expression and the imagery in the semantics of thephrasal combination dominates over the occasional one (being more expressive).Описывaя героя, aвтор сaм себе противоречит, тaк кaк трудолюбивый и целеустремленный человек не может быть плохим, при этом aвтор понимaет, что произошел некий диссонaнс в описaнии героя, но это явилось следствием увлеченности созвучием слов.

In addition, in the language there are plenty of other unsuccessful combinations formed on the basis of the consonance of words. For example, the combination of өтірікті судaй сықпырту/ сaпыру (lit.: to whip lies like water), which means

«shameless lie» transformed into an occasional phrase өтірікті судaй aрaлaстыру (lit.:to stir lies like water) enjoying a similar meaning. Or, on the contrary, D.Doszhanov says: In my first novel «Zaual» I described the aul activist as a negative character who was not afraid of difficulties and was not looking for an easy way, stood against the people and offended the weak ... (newspaper «Қaзaқ әдебиеті» – «Kazakh Literature», from June 16, 2007). Describing the character, the author contradicts himself as a hard-working and determined person cannot be bad and the author understands that there was a dissonance in the description of the hero caused by keenness over consonance of words.

Such variations are not a rare phenomenon as they are often found in the usage of the authors, who pay a great care and caution to the choice of language means. Thus, such shortcomingsshould be eliminated and prevented in author education.

The recent trend of unjustified and inappropriate processing of the modern literary Kazakh language is the result ofintroduction of jargons, borrowings, colloquial words and dialects, i.e. language means widely used among the people. These linguistic resources cannot replenish the vocabulary of the literary language.

Unjustified deviation from the norm of phraseological forms during the process of occasionalizationcontradicts to the literary and linguistic norms. Firstly, the updated words in idiomatic forms, their reproduction and inappropriate applications lead to irrational deviations from the norm; secondly, some poets and writers not knowing the full value of obsolete and infrequent words, use them in inappropriate contexts; thirdly, the authors replace one part of speech with another, which causes various deviations from the language norm as well.

Summarizing all the abovenoted, we have identified the main causes of inappropriate, unjustified deviations with regards to idiomatic forms during occasionalization:

  1. The failures associated with the introduction of the idiomatic phrase combinations of obsolete words, jargon, colloquial words typical to the spoken language, dialect words, infrequent words of uncertain meaning;
  2. Unsuccessful combinations formed with the purpose of updating and modernizing some of phraseology are mainly feasible to native speakers;
  3. Inappropriate, irrelevant deviations arise from sound and stylistic correspondences as well as for diversification, i.e. matching the size of the verse – rhyme and rhythm.

Thus, phraseological combinations – a collection of figurative words having potential impact on mass audiences – are used to transmit the author’s thoughts in an expressive form. Meanwhile, not all deviations from the language norm regarding idiomatic forms are unsuccessful; on the other hand, abnormalities associated with the communication goals have a huge impact on the reader. In this regard, there isa view of N.Ualieva, according to which «Deviations motivated by a definite purpose are called pragmatic deviations. Different types of deviation from the norm due to pragmatic goals are just starting to get revealed in linguistics. The most common ones are deviations due to pragmatic objectives, among which there are: 1) deviations from the linguistic norm; 2) deviations from the text rules; 3) deviations from the logical rules; 4) deviations from the ontological norm; 5) deviation from the ethological norm» [6, 118].

Meanwhile, the well-known scholar-linguist R.Syzdykova writes: «In general, linguistic norms, especially in writing, are not a «canned»phenomenon unable to go through modifications. Over time, the language standards pass through changes, as well as the language itself in its whole diversity, but such changes are not dramatic, since all standards are not «uprooted» as only some fragments transform, while such « metamorphoses» are not immediate and unexpected, but prolonged occurring over time» [3, 14].

According to M.Balakaev «Most of the stylistic devices that exist in the standard language are taken from the colloquial language and speech originated from people serving as a source for modifications. However, the national heritage does not remain in its original form, but is in the process of continuous movement and development. In recent years, in great abundance the literary language started accumulating numerous words, phrases, idiomatic merging phrases, stylistic tools corresponding to relevant new concepts and realities taking place nowadays. In some cases, you can use idiomatic combinations firmly established in the language changing their meanings in accordance with the pursued purpose» [1, 123].

Appropriate, justified deviation from the idiomatic forms of the language standards has a positive impact on the expansion of the stylistic features of the literary language. The ability to use phraseological combinations in speechisa sort of tool to identify the depth and breadth ofthe language and culture knowledge. Those who know the language of their people can express their thoughts in a precise, laconically and attractive way through consciousapplication of rich resources of the language playing with multifaceted features of the engaged words. [2, 95].

Thus, appropriate (justified) and inappropriate (unjustified) deviations from the norms of idiomatic combinations appear in the language as a result of transformation in the meaning of words in order to grant them special stylistic colorful shades and consonance. The newly formed phraseological combinations deriving from appropriate deviations contribute to the enrichment of the language and idiomatic fund. Such combinations may «settle» and form in the language lexical samples for new phraseological options, while inappropriate deviations cannot perform their functions at the normative levels and, therefore,are not retained in the language and gradually fall into disuse.



  1. Balakaev M. Kazakh literary language and its norms. – Almaty Gylym, 1984. – 183 p.
  2. Balakaev M.M. Sergaliev Culture of the Kazakh language. – Almaty: Ziyat Press, 2006. – 140 p.
  3. Syzdykova R. language norms and its formation (codification). – Astana: Elorda 2001. – 230 p.
  4. Ualiuly N. phraseology and language norm. – Almaty: National office of the publishing house, 1998. – 128 p.
  5. Kenesbayev I. Phraseological Dictionary of the Kazakh language. – Almaty Gylym, 1977. – 712 p.
  6. Ualiuly N. Theoretical foundations of Kazakh culture words. Diss. Dr. filol.n. Almaty, 2007. – 336 p.

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