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English Idioms

By Laura Jones,2014-06-10 07:22
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English Idioms

    哈尔滨理工大学学士学位论文

    Using of English Idioms from the Cultural

    Background

    Abstract

    Idioms are an important part of language and culture and they are the most essence of the culture undoubtedly. The appropriate understanding and use of idioms can reflect language learner’s proficiency in language, so its importance

    can not be ignored. Based on many different idioms used in English-spoken countries' daily life, this paper will give explanations and analyses. According to their history, culture,custom , and the development of language using and the times, this paper shows proper meanings in different contexts .Idioms are not only part of culture, but also the carrier and image of culture. It's hoped that languages learners know these know why when they are learning English ,which is meaningful for language learning, as well as helps people understand and use idioms correctly. Learning languages is not to learn itself ,but its culture and history . So communication is our true aim. As this paper an example, all the languages' learnings in the world are same.We should learn its culture background and social custom.,and then learn its vocabulary and grammar. Maybe the content is not broad enough , examples are not inadequate or proper,and points are not detailed enough. But it has pointed out the direction for my future's research-culture decides language.

    Key words: idioms; geographical environments; historic events; religion; literary works; social customs

    哈尔滨理工大学学士学位论文

    CONTENTS

Chapter 1 Introduction .................................................................................. 2

     1.1 Definition......................................................................................... 2

    1.2 Language Feature ............................................................................. 2 Chapter 2 Using of English Idioms from the Cultural Background ................ 4

    2.1 Geographic environment .................................................................. 4

    2.1.1 Gears on board ....................................................................... 4

    2.1.2 Fishing and fish ...................................................................... 5

    2.1.3 Maritime perils ....................................................................... 6

    2.1.4 Weather .................................................................................. 7

    2.2 Historic events ................................................................................. 7

     2.2.1 Britain .................................................................................... 7

    2.2.2 America .................................................................................. 9

    2.2.3 Other English countries ........................................................ 10

    2.3 Religion and mythology ................................................................. 10

    2.3.1 Religion ............................................................................... 10

    2.3.2 Mythology and Fables .......................................................... 11

    2.4 Literary Works ............................................................................... 12

    2.4.1 Shake spare's works .............................................................. 12

    2.4.2 Others .................................................................................. 13

    2.5 Social Custom ................................................................................ 13

    2.5.1 Food ..................................................................................... 14

    2.5.2 Animal ................................................................................. 14

    2.5.3 Color .................................................................................... 15 Chapter 3 Conclusion ................................................................................. 16 Acknowledgement ...................................................................................... 17 Bibliography............................................................................................... 18

    Chapter 1 Introduction

    There are many idioms words concise, profound meaning in English , which is the English idioms and other languages. Idioms are produced and developed in a certain cultural context, have rich cultural connotations, are the crystallization of the English culture (Duan Han, Xie Dan-ping, 2008). Idioms not only reflect the geographical features of a country, but also to convey the living customs, literature, history, religion and other cultural information (Dong Jing, 2004).

1.1 Definition

    Idiom comes from the Greek, belongs to a larger vocabulary, there are many definitions. English has long been conventional to express the full meaning, structure stereotyping fixed-word phrase narrowly. It is some special styling language structure - the phrase, phrase or expression, its meaning can not usually be inferred by its single meaning or literal meaning of the phrase, and should be understood by the convention as a whole (Jiang Ying, 2010). Broadly speaking, the English idiom is the kind of national language the customary syntax and special expressions, its scope including set phrases, allusions, proverbs, maxims, colloquialisms, slang (Xia Guo-jian, 2003).

1.2 Language Feature

    Semantics is very important in the idioms, the meaning of English idioms summarized two features as the following:

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    (1) The meaning of the idiom mostly has a dual nature, both literally meaning and idiom meaning, and the two meanings quite different, such as: a rainy day, literally "a rainy day"; and idioms semantics is a "difficult time"; miss the boat literally " miss the boat ", and idioms semantics is "lost opportunity"; give someone a kick literally "give someone a kick"; and idioms semantics is "make someone happy". It is difficult to understand and translate idioms, if you do not know the idiom meaning.

    (2)The semantics of idioms is holistic, that is not a simple sum of the meaning of a single word of the composition idioms, such as rain cats and dogs (downpour), know the rope (knowledgeable), play to the gallery (please the audience), blow up one's mind (surprised), bring down the house (bring down the house). Change one word, which lost the meaning of the idiom (Duan Han, Xie Dan-ping, 2008; Zhang Wen-feng, 2008).

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    Chapter 2 Using of English Idioms from the

    Cultural Background

    In this part according to different cultural backgrounds, it will discuss the using of English idioms from five parts: geographic environment, historic events, religion and mythology, literary works and social custom.

2.1 Geographic environment

    Culture can not be separated from the natural geographical environment, but the culture is not determined by the natural geographic environment. Similar to the natural environment, there are different cultural realities. Characteristics of any culture are inseparable from its geographical environment in which each culture are inherent characteristics of its geography, climate, environment has different characteristics (Yang Fang, 2002). Most English idioms with its unique and strong national geographical features, idioms generation is closely related to the work and life of the people. A lot of idiomatic expressions is of the ethnic familiar things (Miu Ming-zhu, 2010).

2.1.1 Gears on board

    Britain is an island country surrounded by water, in the industrial revolution before the main fishing as the main industry, seafaring is also developed. Ship as human conquest of the sea, the important tool of rivers, the ocean is the carrier of culture. Many idioms in English are to ship and appliance for the analogized

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    body of nautical term access to, such as: see how the land lies (understand terrain), see how the wind blows (detection direction). The former is to observe the coast line shape and the trend, in order to determine routes and landing point; the latter is estimated wind and determination of wind direction to determine routes and time of sailing. Now the two idioms mean "observation situation, know the situation" (Yang Fang, 2002). In addition, there are some other idioms, such as: steering (take the laboring oar, take the helm); flag (color); sailing (set sail); plain sailing (smooth); prepare for battle (clear the decks); sink or swim (put all your eggs in one basket); ready to fight (clear the decks); the vessel was returning (when the ship comes home); in deep water (in misery); to go with the stream (the), etc. (Miu Ming-zhu, 2010).

2.1.2 Fishing and fish

    British is extremely rich fisheries resources. The fishing industry played a very important role in the UK economy. A large number of fisheries-related vocabularies in English, from the fishing industry, to fish for Metaphor idioms: have other fish to fry (there are other things to do); hook (land) one's fish (have got one's wish, to get what you want by tricks, winning); swim like a fish (swim like a fish); catch fish with a silver hook (silver hook fishing, means not catch fish, spend money to buy fish, pose as their fish); play a fish (bait fish kept dragging the hook line cause fatigue); strike a fish (fierce hook line the hook to live); fish for (to beat around the bush to inquire or seek); fish or cut a bait for (of choices that determine the course of action); fish out (up) (catch the light, catching the best, explore, find out, pulled out, remove). Also many fish

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    demeanor, the action as a metaphor idiom, such as: white about gills (sickly); nibble at (try); get a rise of (more than); fish dive (diving), a fishy stare (glazed eyes stare) (Lu Yi-song, 2003).

2.1.3 Maritime perils

    Sailing is often accompanied by dangerous, and therefore a lot about the shipwreck ship wreck idioms English Idioms book. Many idioms has been extended, such as : all at sea: ship lost control at sea, only the wind drifting, now the meaning of this idiom is "overwhelmed". For example: He is all at sea as what to say next. (He almost didn't know what to say next.) Get into deep water: trapped in deep water, now the meaning of this idiom is the meaning of the "difficulties". For example: We'd better not talk about starting up a new company before the first one is operating smoothly, or we'll be getting into deep water. (It is better not to talk about the establishment of a new company before the first company operating smoothly, otherwise we will have a new trouble.) Stranded in low water: it is used to represent "short of money, short of money". For example: He spent every penny he had and was in low water. (He spent all his money and was very tight.) By the board: the mast along the side of the ship off the sea of humanity, currently metaphor arrangements fall through, plan failed. For example: Some young people have let the tradition go by board. (Some young people put the old traditions behind.) All hands to the pumps: The ship suddenly leakage, everyone went to pumping. Now the meaning of the idiom is "go all out". For example: We'll need all hands to the pumps if we want to win the victory. (We need to go all out to win.) Between the devil and sea:

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    choose between the devil and the ocean. Now it means "dilemma". For example: I'm between the devil and the deep sea. What's to be done? (Now I am a dilemma, how to do?) (Lu Yi-song, 2003).

2.1.4 Weather

    Britain is a typical temperate Marine climate. British climate is typical of a lot of rain fog. In Britain, the rain is normal, it does not rain but not normal. In Britain in the spoken language have a phrase: as right as rain: "like rain that correct, meaning is satisfaction". The British mutually agreed time to do something, always to be added come rain or shine (regardless of rain or fine weather came). Meaning: "Regardless of the situation" (Yang Fang, 2002).

2.2 Historic events

    Social development language is huge. With the changing times, the old language will decline, and continue to produce new language. The historical and cultural traces left in the idioms in the language development process.

2.2.1 Britain

    The Romans ruled Britain for 400 years, a profound influence on English. The English Idioms still able to find traces of Roman culture. Such as: Do in Rome as the Romans do (When in Rome); Roman was not built in a day (Albert day work); all roads lead to Rome (achieving the same). Julius Caesar's conquest of the Roman name also to stay in idioms: appeal to Caesar (resorting to the

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    highest authority / elders or superiors); Great Caesar! = Great heavens. There Caesar leading troops for military activities of the story is also to stay in the English idioms, such as: Cross the Rubicon (Rubicon River ride, meaning: decided to venture to take drastic action); Burn one's boats (boat burned, meaning: the most drastic); The die is already east (things have been decided, can no longer change, meaning: a done deal) (You Gui-lan, 2003). The invasion of the Germanic tribes also played a very important role in the formation of the English. In fact, the Anglo - Saxon is the origin of the modern English, known as Old English. The existing minority idiom can also see the impact of the Anglo - Saxon language and culture, such as: Cut / sting / wound someone to the quick (hurt someone's flesh; "quick" is ancient Saxon, meaning is "the nail a non tender below the meat tenderizer; go through fire and water, meaning is "jump through hoops", this idiom stems from the conviction of the Anglo-Saxon period method (You Gui-lan, 2003).

    In 1066, Norman and took the throne at the battle of Hastings, and after a very long time to become British masters, and French have a profound impact on English. The largest number of English idioms translated from the French, the range is the most widely, but also the most commonly used. Such as: be on the point of doing (be about to do something); swim between two waters (ready to accept either course), throw the halve after the hatchet (after the lost);

    comparisons are odious (than people, mad man); He laughs best who laughs last (who laughs last, who is the best); The best fish swim near the bottom (the best fish swim underwater); return to one’s muttons (hark back to the subject); stew in one’s own juice (reap the fruits of one's actions) (You Gui-lan, 2003).

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2.2.2 America

    From the British establish the first colony of Virginia in North America, a half century from 1607 to 1763, the British took control of large tracts of land in North America. American English is developed based on British English, but separate ethnic, economic and cultural, geographical, ecological environment, cultural exchange makes this piece of land in the United States on the use of English is necessarily different from those of the United Kingdom English colonial era, some phrases clearly reflecting the cultural identity of the United States. Such as: sleep tight (sleep), colonial people under the mattress are not installed spring, but with a rope cross stretched, need to tighten from time to time. Therefore, if the rope is tight, then sleep. Wig (the right size, critical), when the wigmaker first gentleman's head shaved, and then by carvers amount the size of the head, and then the wood carving a blockhead (wooden dummy head, into a "fool"). If the wig worn too tight, when the bow will flip his wig (fell off the wig, the metaphor refers to "make people uncomfortable"). Pipe of peace (pipe of peace) derived from the American Indian customs: Indians like to use their own tobacco bag to foreign friends, to show goodwill. If the two sides fight to make peace, use a branch pipe to represent peace. Pan out (success), on January 24, 1848, an American in California found the land containing gold. The gold rush is pan in the creek up sand, continue to use water to clean, wash away the sand, the lucky can get one gold. Therefore, pan out this idiom evolved into "success" (You Gui-lan, 2003).

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