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Decomposition of set phrases

Set phrases are used as expressive means of language which already makes them the object of interest for stylistics.

E.g. to be a square peg in the round hole.

The meaning of a set expression can be understood only from the combination as a whole.

A very effective stylistic device consists in the intentional violation of the traditional norms of the use of set phrases that is called decomposition, deformation, demotivation or breaking up of set expressions.

Function. Set expressions are usu. decomposed for creating a humorous, ironic, sarcastic effect or even the atmosphere of absurdity.

There are several types of decomposition of set expressions:

1. inclusion or prolongation, e.g. She took a desperate hold of his arm;

2. interaction, e.g. to be fed up with smth + to be fed to the teeth = There are the words of a man who for some reason not disclosed is fed up with the front teeth with the adored object;

3. substitution (partial or complete),

e.g. Divorces (instead of marriages) are made in heavens. (O. Wilde)

To dish or not to dish? (about a satellite antenna; instead of Shakespearean To be or not to be?).

4. changes in spelling (attaining a new meaning and at the same time preserving or imitating the phonetical form of the original set expression), e.g. Sofa, So Good! (instead of So far, so good, when a furniture shop praises its sofas).

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