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According to Dagut, the idiom presents its own particular translation problems.

Although idioms derive from metaphors, idiom is no to be regarded as simply presenting translation-theory with the same problems as metaphor. The idiom is at once easier and more difficult to translate than metaphor, it is easier because it is no longer metaphorical and therefore raises no problem of equivalent metaphoricity; and more difficult because the translator must be fully aware of the distinction between idioms that have a literal counterpart (whose separate designate can be acceptably revived) and those that have not, and must be able to recognize both types in both source language and target language. In order to be able to steer his translation safely past the rocks of idiomaticity, the translator requires a idiomatic competence. Hence the special difficulty of translating idioms. For source language and target language may be expected to differ not only in the figurative components of their idioms, but also in the respective distributions of their literizable and non-literizable idioms. A literalizable idiom is an idiom which can be interpreted literally (according to the basic meanings of its constituents) as well as idiomatically (according to the acquired meaning applicable to the phrase as a whole). Dagut states that the denotational scope of a compound metaphorical expression is greatly enlarged when it loses its literary freshness and exclusiveness and enters into common, everyday usage. What was originally an arresting individual metaphor gradually becomes permanent item of the language-speakers lexical competence, used to designate an ever-growing class of what are taken to be similar experiences. These figurative extensions of meaning once created become subject to what Sapir termed the drift of language (process of steady, systematic change which is all the time ineluctably at work on linguistic symbols). With use, the original and vivid figurative force of the metaphor

becomes progressively dulled, until eventually one of two things happens: either the figurative expression drops out of use altogether and disappears from the language; or it takes its place in the nonfigurative vocabulary of the language as a demetaphorized compound word. According to Dagut there are two large groups of idioms: those which have lost all of their original metaphorical content, and those in which this content is still strongly present. There is a continuous gradation stretching from fully alive metaphor to completely dead (or lexical) idiom, with various intermediate degrees of demetaphorization, or idiomatization. For instance lock, stock and barrel still retains a trace of its figurative force, if only in the greater emphasis that it imparts to the completeness; it represents a type of idiom that occupies a middle position between the large two groups that were mentioned above.