Phraseological Units with Somatic Components: Threats and Benefits (On the Material of English and Georgian Languages)

Irine Demetradze


The paper aims to study the phraseological units with somatic components in English and Georgian languages.
With reference to both languages, such units have been analyzed by numerous scholars from the linguistic
viewpoint. The novelty of the given paper is that it approaches such units with regard to their psychological
impact, which, in the long run, either affects or benefits the human health system.
It is well known that phraseological units with somatic components are untranslatable expressions containing
the names of various parts of the human body as well as the elements of the respiratory, neural and
gastro-intestinal systems. Such phraseological units are abundantly found in every language, including the two
languages under analysis. M. Iunescu notes that “anatomical lexemes are of significant importance in any
culture, because they are used to describe associated semantic and metaphoric relationships” (Iunescu 2005:
40). According to Dingenmanse, the reason for such abundance of phraseological units with somatic components
is that “everyone has a body, and it is easy to refer to its parts, so the body is a very suitable source
domain for expressing a variety of things” (Dingenmanse 2006:59).
However, the usage of such phrases is not always safe. According to famous neuroscientists, “a single
negative word can increase the activity in our amygdala (the fear center of the brain). This releases dozens of
stress-producing hormones and neurotransmitters, which in turn interrupts our brains’ functioning” (Newberg
& Waldman 2012:14).
Therefore, based on the works of neuroscientists and psycholinguists, the paper outlines the positive and
negative impacts of phraseological units with somatic components on human health.
In the article “The Power of Words: How Words Impact Your Life”, a well-known author Katherine Hurst
reminds us of a famous verse from the Bible:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.1
Further, K. Hurst notes that “Words consist of vibration and sound. It is these vibrations that create the
very reality that surrounds us. Words are the creator; the creator of our universe, our lives, our reality.
Without words, a thought can never become a reality. This is something that we have been taught throughout
history, as far back as the Bible, which writes of ‘God’ – whatever that word may mean to you – saying ‘let
there be light’ and as a result creating light. So what can we learn from this? … Surely, we should only pick
the very best words in order to create our very best reality. Our thoughts also impact what we manifest in our
lives. But it can be argued that the real power lies in our words. It is our words that provide a bold affirmation
of our innermost thoughts. They are a confirmation to the world of how we see others, our lives and ourselves.
It is this powerful affirmation that our words provide which enables our thoughts to manifest into a reality. So
why do we choose to misuse our most powerful asset?” (Hurst 2016: 5)
According to a famous Jewish author Yehuda Berg,“Words have energy and power with the ability to
help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate, and to humble”.2

Full Text:



Burbo, L. Listen to Your Body.Helios. Moscow, 2002 (in Russian).

Dingenmanse, M. The Body in Yoruba. A Linguistic Study. MA Thesis. Leiden University, 2006.

Hurst, K. The Secret Law of Attraction. Master the Power of Intention. London. Greater Minds Ltd., 2016.

Iunescu, M. R. “The Human Body as Reflected in English Somatic Verbal Idioms”. In Language and Literature. European Landmarks of Identity, Selected Papers of the 12th International Conference of the Faculty of Letters. University of Piteşti, Romania, 2005, pp. 39-46.

Newberg, A., Waldman, M.R. Words Can Change Your Brain: 12 Conversation Strategies to Build Trust, Resolve Conflict, and Increase Intimacy. Penguin Publishing Group, 2012.

Oltean S., Takacs I. Idioms of Body Parts in English.A Cognitive Perspective. Cluj-Napoca, 2014.

Oniani, A. Georgian Idioms. “Nakaduli”. Tbilisi, 1966(in Georgian).

Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms. Oxford University Press, 2009.

Sinelnikov, V. Love Your Disease. Tsentrpoligraph. Moscow, 2018 (in Russian).