Idiomatic Sentences in English and Russian

Exploring the dimensions of idioms, the feasibility of its use by analyzing the idiomatic units in different languages, finding them in an dictionary and the definition of ways of formation of idiomatic expressions and approaches to teaching language.

Рубрика Иностранные языки и языкознание
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Язык английский
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The English Language and Literature chair.

“B-020400 Roman and German Philology the English Language”


The Theme: “Idiomatic sentences in English and Russian”

Written by: Student of group 1-43

Ermakova A.

Supervisor: Kulidi O. V.




1.1Idiomatic sentences as an essential part of general vocabulary.

II. The Main part

Chapter 1

a)The nature of idioms.

b)Different aspects of idiomatic sentences.

c)Appropriateness of idiomatic sentences in certain situations.

Chapter 2

a)Pedagogical Implications.

b)Comparative analysis of idiomatic sentences of four languages (English, Russian, Uzbek and German).




1.1Idiom is phrase or expression whose total meaning differs from the meaning of the individual words. For example, “to blow one's top” (get angry) and “behind the eight ball” (in trouble) are English language idioms. Idioms come from language students must learn them just as they would learn vocabulary words.

The idioms may also refer to the conventional way of joining words to express a particular idea, often in English, specific prepositions must fellow certain verbs or adverbs. We say “unequal” to and “become off”. Also, the expressions run out of run into, run from, run over, and run up may mean something different from simple directions. The use of such idioms vary between different dialects within one language. For example, people living in the Northeastern United States usually use the idiom “suck to my stomach”, while those living in the Southeastern United States generally say “sick in my stomach”. Residents of northern England usually say “quarter till the hour” and those from London say “quarter to the hour.”

The theme of the present word is “Idiomatic sentences in English, German, Russian and Uzbek”.

Nowadays English is worth not just knowing, but it is worth really knowing. The English language becomes the means of international communication, the language of trade, education, politics and economics. For people it is very important to understand foreigners and be understood by them. In this case the English language comes to be one, but very serious problem. A word comes to be a very powerful means of communication but also can be a cause of great misunderstanding if it is not clearly understood by one of the speakers. Understanding native speakers is a huge problem for our students. Our secondary schools teach the students only the bases of English. Our university often overlook the use of idiomatic sentences which come to be a very numerous part of English. Idioms cover at least one third part of the native speaker's speech. Ignorance of idioms causes a great miscommunication between students and native speakers.

The life doesn't freeze in the same position. It always develops. And it makes the language develop too. That is why the present work is devoted to idiomatic sentences.

The goal of the work is to study all aspects of idioms, the appropriateness of their usage, and to analyze similar idiomatic units in different languages.

To achieve the set goal we must determine the following tasks:

1) To search the origin of idioms.

2) To study the words transmittion through English vocabulary.

3) To study the ways of idiomatic expressions.


We develop students' awareness of using idiomatic sentences. We are sure to bring them closer to the authentically sounding speech.


Some parts of this qualification work have been used at the English language lessons at Gulistan State University as a means of raising students' interest and developing investigation skills.

Structurally the presented work consists of: Introduction, two chapters, conclusion, bibliography.

The introduction reveals the general survey of the whole work and determines idiomatic sentences as an essential part of the general vocabulary.

The first chapter deals with the nature of idioms, different aspects of idioms, appropriateness of their use in certain situations.

The second chapter deals with approaches to the teaching of idiomatic language and comparative analysis of similar idiomatic sentences in four languages.

Bibliography comprises sources. Books of paramount importance are belles letters of American and English writers, scientific research of foreign and home linguists. Internet explorations defining dictionaries, articles from methodical journals. The basic works are the following:

Chapter 1

a)The nature of idioms

First of all, we must distinguish what the idioms are. We often read and hear the phrase 'language is a living thing', but most of us do not stop to think about how and why this is true. Living things grow and change, and so does language. One can readily recognize differences between Shakespeare's English and the English of modern authors, but present-day English is also growing and changing, and these tendencies are not so easy to recognize.

Since the general tendencies of present-day English are towards more idiomatic usage, it is important that this work on Idioms should show the learner how the language is developing. Idioms are not a separate part of the language which one can choose either to use or to omit, but they form an essential part of the general vocabulary of English. A description of how the vocabulary of the language is growing and changing will help to place idioms in perspective.

In this chapter we shall also consider some changing attitudes towards language, several different aspects of idioms, and finally difficulties which learners experience in using idioms.

Now let us discuss how the growth and change in the English vocabulary have appeared and developed. Below there are some reasons of that are given.1)

1.One does not need to be a language expert to realize that the vocabulary of a language grows continually with new developments in knowledge. New ideas must have new labels to name them. Without new labels, communication of these new ideas to others would be impossible. Most such words come from the English of special subjects such as science and technology, psychology, sociology, politics and economics.

2.Words which already exist can also take on a particular meaning in a particular situation. For example, “to lock someone out”, usually means 'to lock a door in order to prevent someone from entering. However, the verb has a special meaning in the context of industrial relations. It means that the employers refuse to let the workers return to their place of work until they stop protesting. The noun a lock-out is also used in this special context, and it is, therefore, a new word in the language. Similar words are to sit m, a sit-in and to walk out, a walk-out, where the verbs take on a new meaning in the context of industrial strike and protest and where the nouns are only used in this context, thus becoming new words.

3.Not only can words which already exist express new ideas and thus help a language to grow; also, new ideas can be expressed by the combination of two or three existing words. Here is an example of this: the words wage and to freeze are well known, but the idea of a wage-freeze came into the language only a few years ago. “To freeze wages” is another expression from British politics and economics and means 'to stop increases in wages'. The same idea is found in “to freeze prices” and “a price-freeze”.

4.A new word can be formed by changing a verbal phrase into a noun (as in a lock-out), or by changing a noun into a verb. Both these changes are very popular in American English (AE). British English (BE) quickly borrows new word formations from AE. Here are some nouns formed from verbal phrases: a stop-over, a check-up, a walk-over, a hand-out, a set-up, all common especially in informal style. Here are some verbs formed from nouns: to pilot (a plane), to captain (a team), to radio (a message), to service (a motorcar), to air-freight (a parcel), to Xerox (a document), to pressure (somebody). It is easy to give words new grammatical functions because English is flexible. When the function is changed, it is not necessary to change the form. Not only nouns, but also adjectives are made into verbs to show a process, as in to soundproof, to skid proof, to streamline. All these changes in the function of words have one purpose, that is, to make the form of words used shorter and more direct. They are short-cuts in language. These short forms are quicker and more convenient and for this reason they are becoming more and more popular.

5.There are other short-cuts which BE has borrowed from AE. Verbs can also be made from the root of a noun, e.g. to housekeep from the noun housekeeper, to barkeep from barkeeper, to babysit from babysitter. To house-sit is a new word which has been copied from to babysit, because it includes the same idea, namely, 'to look after someone's house while he is away'.

6.Another short-cut joins words together in order to form one adjective instead of a long phrase, e.g. a round-the-clock service, instead of 'a service which is offered around the clock' (ie 24 hours).

7.New words can be made by adding endings such as -ise or -isation to adjectives or nouns. This is especially popular in the language of newspapers. Here are some examples: to decimalise instead of the long phrase 'to change into the decimal system', to departmentalise instead of 'to organise into different departments' and containerisation instead of 'the process of putting things into containers'.

8.Prefixes such as mini-, maxi-, super-, urn-, non-, extra- are put in front of words (mainly nouns and adjectives) to indicate the quantity or quality of something in the shortest possible way. Here are some examples: super grade petrol (the best quality), unisex (in fashion, the same design in clothes for men and women), a non-stick frying-pan, non-skid tires, mini-skirt, and extra-mild cigarettes.

9.New words can be made by mixing two words that already exist, by combining part of one word with part of another. A well-known example is smog (smoke + fog). Others are brunch (breakfast +lunch), newscast (news + broadcast) and motel (motorist + hotel). AE uses more of these words than BE. Here are some from AE: Laundromat (laundry + automat), cablegram (cable + telegram) and medi-care (medical + care). Here is one from the world of economics: stagflation (stagnation + inflation).

Educated writers and readers of English are becoming more flexible and tolerant about what is considered to be correct or acceptable usage. Some deviations from the grammatical rules of the past are now accepted not only in spoken but also in written English. Such changes of attitude can be observed in several parts of grammar, including case, number, tense and the position of prepositions at the end of a phrase or sentence. A few examples will make this clear. Who shall I ask? Now appears in written English instead of who shall I ask? (case). Neither of them are coming instead of neither of them is coming (number). Never heard of her before instead of / have never heard of her before (tense). Prepositions appear now quite regularly at the end of a sentence in written English, where previously this was only common in spoken English and was considered bad style when written. Examples of all the above can easily be found even in newspapers which have a reputation for writing good and correct English.

The attitude of users of the language towards style is also becoming more flexible. Words which were considered to be slang in the past may be more acceptable in present-day English; they may now be considered to be colloquial or informal. The expression to be browned off with somebody was in the past a slang expression for 'to be bored with or irritated by somebody'. Since the slang expression of the same meaning to be cheesed off with somebody came into the language, browned-off has generally risen in status and is now considered by most people to be informal and not slang. There are several other cases where a new expression has replaced an already existing one, giving the existing expression a rise in status from slang to informal. This is also partly due to the spread in the use of taboo words (or swear-words), which much more freely now replace words (like damn and bloody) which were in the past considered to be bad language. The taboo words are now bad language and the other words do not give so much offence as in the past. Both of these sets of words, however, should be avoided by the learner until his mastery of the language is so complete that he knows exactly when, where and how to use such words.

b) Different aspects of idiomatic sentences

We shall now take a close look at some aspects of idioms. An important fact which must be stressed is that idioms are not only colloquial expressions, as many people believe. They can appear in formal style and in slang. They can appear in poetry or in the language of Shakespeare and the Bible. What, then, is an idiom? We can say that an idiom is a number of words which, taken together, mean something different from the individual words of the idiom when they stand alone. The way in which the words are put together is often odd, illogical or even grammatically incorrect. These are the special features of some idioms. Other idioms are completely regular and logical in their grammar and vocabulary. Because of the special features of some idioms, we have to learn the idiom as a whole and we often cannot change any part of it (except perhaps, only the tense of the verb). English is very rich in idiomatic expressions. In fact, it is difficult to speak or write English without using idioms. An English native speaker is very often not aware that he is using an idiom; perhaps he does not even realize that an idiom which he uses is grammatically incorrect. A non-native learner makes the correct use of idiomatic English one of his main aims, and the fact that some idioms are illogical or grammatically incorrect causes him difficulty. Only careful study and exact learning will help.

It cannot be explained why a particular idiom has developed an unusual arrangement or choice of words. The idiom has been fixed by long usage--as is sometimes seen from the vocabulary.

The idiom “to buy a pig in a poke” means 'to buy something which one has not inspected previously and which is worth less than one paid for it*. The word poke is an old word meaning sack. Poke only appears in present-day English with this meaning in this idiom. Therefore, it is clear that the idiom has continued to be used long after the individual word.

There are many different sources of idioms. As will be made clear later} the most important thing about idioms is their meaning. This is why a native speaker does not notice that an idiom is incorrect grammatically. If the source of an idiom is known, it is sometimes easier to imagine its meaning. Many idiomatic phrases come from the every-day life of Englishmen, from home life, eg to be born with a silver spoon in one's mouth, to make a clean sweep of something, to hit the nail on the head. There are many which have to do with food and cooking, e g to eat humble pie, out of the frying-pan into the fire, to be in the soup. Agricultural life has given rise to go to seed, to put one's hand to the plough, to lead someone up the garden path. Nautical life and military life are the source of when one's ship comes home, to be in the same boat as someone, to be in deep waters, to sail under false colors, to cross swords with someone, to fight a pitched battle, to fight a losing I winning battle. Many idioms include parts of the body, animals, and colors (see Chapter 12). The Bible gives us to kill the fatted calf, to turn the other cheek, the apple of one's eye.

If you look up the word idiom in Webster1), you will be given the following definition: Idiom is an expression whose meaning is not predictable from the usual meanings of its constituent element as kick the bucket, hang one's head etc., or from the general grammatical rules of language, as the table round for the round table, and which is not a constituent of a larger expression of like characteristics. This definition seems a bit dry and doesn't really tell anything about the function of idioms in English language. English is a language particularly rich in idioms - those modes of expression peculiar to a language (or dialect) which frequently defy logical and grammatical rules. Without idioms English would lose much of its variety and humor both in speech an writing. The background and etymological origins of most idioms is at best obscure. This is the reason why a study of differences between the idioms of American and British English is somewhat difficult. But it also makes the cases, where background, etymology and history are known, even more interesting. Some idioms of the "worldwide English" have first been seen in the works of writers like Shakespeare, Sir Walter Scott, Lewis Carroll or even in the paperbacks of contemporary novelists. An example of Shakespearian quotation we can easily found in the following sentence: "As a social worker, you certainly see the seamy side of life."2) Biblical references are also the source of many idioms. Sports terms, technical terms, legal terms, military slang and even nautical expressions have found their way to the everyday use of English language. Let us see some examples of these, some used in either American or British English and some used in both.

The first sentence sounds as following: "Having won the first two Tests, Australia is now almost certain to retain the Ashes." “Ashes” in this sentence is a British English idiom that is nowadays a well-established cricket term.)

Now let us see at the next sentence: "In his case the exception proves the rule." Here we are met with the full idiomatic sentence or in other words, with a maxim: "the exception proves the rule in cases not excepted". Such kind of idiomatic sentence can be easily met and widely used in both American and British variants of the English language.

"To have the edge on/over someone." - this is the third example of our analysis. This idiomatic expression is of purely American English origin idiom, which is now established in almost every other form of English, including the British English.

One more example sounds as following: "A happy hunting ground." Which means a place where one often goes to obtain something or to make money. The Russian equivalent of this idiomatic expression might be as “хороший улов” The mentioned English idiom has its origin from the American English idiom from the Red Indians' Paradise.

Some words about history of American and British idioms.

In the old days English idioms rarely originated from any other form of English than British English. (French was also a popular source of idioms.) Nowadays American English is in this position. It is hard to find an American English idiom that has not established itself in the so called "worldwide English" which is usually the British English. This is not the case with British English idioms which are not as widespread. It has to be remembered that it is hard to say which idioms are actively used in English and which are dying out or have already died. Idioms are constantly dying and new-ones are born.

Some idioms may have gone through radical changes in meaning. This suggestion we can affirm, for example, with the idiomatic sentence “There is no love lost between them” which in Modern English means that some people dislike one another. But if we look through in the historical background of English, we might see that originally, when there only the British English form existed, it meant exactly the opposite and the shift in meaning is yet unexplained. All dialects of English have different sets of idioms and situations where a given idiom can be used. American English and British English may not, in this respect, be the best possible pair to compare because they both have been developing into the same direction, at least where written language is concerned, since the Second World War.

What is the reason of such strong American influence to the development of the idiomatic character of a sentence? Due to the English philologist and idioms investigator William Mc Mordie the reason that there is so much American influence in British English is the result of the following:

1.Magnitude of publishing industry in the U.S.

2.Magnitude of mass media influence on a worldwide scale

3.Appeal of American popular culture on language and habits worldwide

4.International political and economic position of the U.S.

All these facts are leading us to the conclusion that new idiomatic expressions in speech usually originate in the U.S. and then become popular in the so-called "worldwide English".

It should be borne in mind that this new situation is completely different from the birth of American English as a "variant" of British English. When America was still under the rule of the Crown, most idioms originated from British English sources. Of course, there were American English expressions and idioms too, before American English could be defined as dialect of English. To make prove of this we might illustrate the following some examples of these early American English idioms:

1."To bark up the wrong tree." - has its origin from the raccoon-hunting in which dogs were used to locate raccoons up in trees.

2."Paddle one's own canoe." - this idiomatic expression is an American English idiom of the late 18th Century and early 19th Century.

Some of these early American idioms and expressions were derived from the speech of the American natives like the phrase that "someone speaks with a forked tongue" and the "happy hunting ground" above. These idioms have filtered to British English through centuries through books, newspapers and most recently through powerful mediums like radio, TV and movies.

Where was the turning point? When did American culture take the leading role and start shaping the English language and especially idiomatic expressions? There is a lot of argument on this subject. Most claim that the real turning point was the Second World War. This could be the case. During the War English-speaking nations were united against a common enemy and the U.S. took the leading role. In these few years and a decade after the War American popular culture first established itself in British English. Again new idioms were created and old ones faded away. The Second World War was the turning point in many areas in life. This may also be the case in the development of the English language. In the old days the written language (novels, poems, plays and the Bible) was the source from which idioms were extracted. This was the case up until WWII. After the war new mediums had established themselves in English-speaking society, there was a channel for the American way of life and the popular culture of the U.S. TV, movies and nowadays the interactive medium have changed the English language more to the American English direction. Some people in the Europe speak the Mid-Atlantic English, halfway from the British English to American English.

The influence of American English can even be seen in other European languages. For example, in Russian, we are adopting and translating AmE proverbs, idioms and expressions. It can be said that the spoken language has taken the leading role over the written and the only reason for this is TV and radio. Most proverbs and idioms that have been adopted to British English from American English are of spoken origin. This is a definite shift from the days before the World War II.

What will this development do to the English language? Will it decrease its value? This could be argued, but the answer would still be no. Languages develop and change. So is the case with English language and idioms.

How then does American English differ from British English in the use of idioms? There are no radical differences in actual use. The main differences are in the situations where idiomatic expressions are used. There have been many studies recently on this subject. American English adopts and creates new idioms at a much faster rate compared to British English. Also the idioms of Aim origin tend to spread faster and further. After it has first been established in the U.S., an American idiom may soon be found in other "variants" and dialects of English. Nowadays new British idioms tend to stay on the British Isles and are rarely encountered in the U.S. British idioms are actually more familiar to other Europeans or to the people of the British Commonwealth than to Americans, even though the language is same. The reason for all these facts is that Britain is not the world power it used to be and it must be said that the U.S. has taken the role of the leading nation in the development of language, media and popular culture. Britain just doesn't have the magnitude of media influence that the United States controls.

The future of idiomatic expressions in the English language seems certain. They are more and more based on American English. This development will continue through new mediums like the Internet and interactive mediums. It is hard to say what this will do to idioms and what kind of new idioms are created. This will be an interesting development to follow, and by no means does it lessen the humor, variety and color of English language.

Idioms take many different forms or structures. They can be very short or rather long. A large number of idioms consist of some combination of noun and adjective, e.g. cold war, a dark horse, French leave, forty winks, a snake in the grass; these are dealt with in Chapter 4. Some idioms are much longer: to fish in troubled waters, to take the bull by the horns, to cut one's coat according to one's cloth.

An idiom can have a regular structure, an irregular or even a grammatically incorrect structure. The idiom / am good friends with him are irregular or illogical in its grammatical structure. / is singular; why then is the correct form in this case not I am a good friend with him? This form is impossible although it is more logical; one would have to say / am a good friend of his. A native speaker is not consciously aware of this inconsistency. This is, therefore, an example of the kind of idiom where the form is irregular but the meaning clear. A second kind has a regular form but a meaning that is not clear. To have a bee in one's bonnet has a regular form, but its meaning is not obvious. It means, in fact, that one is obsessed by an idea, but how can we know this if we have not learnt it as an idiom? There is a third group, in which both form and meaning are irregular. To be at large: the form: Verb + Preposition + Adjective without noun are strange, and we have no idea what it means, either! If we talk about a prisoner who is still at large, it means that he is still free. Here are similar examples: to go through thick and thin, to be at daggers drawn, and to be in the swim.

We find, in fact, that most idioms belong to the second group, where the form is regular, but the meaning is unclear. However, even in this group, some idioms are clearer than others, that is, some are easier to guess than others. Take the example to give someone the green light. We can guess the meaning even though we may never have heard it before. If we associate 'the green light with traffic lights where green means “Go!” we can imagine that the idiom means 'to give someone permission to start something'.

Other idioms can be guessed if we hear them in context, that is, when we know how they are used in a particular situation. For example, let us take the idiom to be at the top of the tree. If we hear the sentence 'John is at the top of the tree now', we are not sure what this is saying about John, Perhaps it means that he is in a dangerous position or that he is hiding. But if we hear the phrase in context, the meaning becomes clear to us: Ten years ago John joined the company, and now he's the general manager! Yes, he's really at the top of the tree! The idiom means 'to be at the top of one's profession, to be successful.

However, some idioms are too difficult to guess correctly because they have no association with the original meaning of the individual words. Here are some examples: to tell someone where to get off, to bring the house dawn, to take it out on someone. The learner will have great difficulty here unless he has heard the idioms before. Even when they are used in context, it is not easy to detect the meaning exactly. We shall take a closer look at the first of these examples. To get o/f usually appears together with bus or bicycle, as in this sentence: Mary didn't know her way round town, so Jane took her to the bus stop and then told her where to get off. But in its idiomatic sense to tell someone where to get off means 'to tell someone rudely and openly what you think of him' as in this context: Jane had had enough of Mary's stupid and critical remarks, so she finally told her where to get off. For a foreign learner, this idiomatic meaning is not even exactly clear in context.

It was said earlier that we have to learn an idiom as a whole because we often cannot change any part of it. A question which the learner may ask is: 'How do I know which parts of which idioms can be changed? The idioms which cannot be changed at all are called fixed idioms. Some idioms are fixed in some of their parts but not in others. Some idioms allow only limited changes in the parts which are not fixed. We can make this clear with an example. Take the idiom to give someone the cold shoulder. Which changes are possible? The idiom means 'to treat someone in a cold or unfriendly way. We may ask if it is possible to say to give someone the 'cool' or 'warm' shoulder or to give someone 'a' cold shoulder or to give a cold shoulder 'to' someone. None of these are possible, but how can the foreign learner know this? The learner should note the alternative possibilities and use only these and no others. To give someone the cold shoulder is therefore a fixed idiom. Here are some more: to make a clean breast of it, which means 'to tell the truth about something. We can only change the tense of the verb. The idiom to have to enjoy one's forty winks allows a limited choice of verb but the pair forty winks is fixed. We cannot say “fifty” winks. We cannot explain why this is wrong. We must accept the idiomatic peculiarities of the language and learn to handle them. Here are some more examples of idioms which are not fixed in all pans: to come to a bad\ nasty\ sticky\ no good/untimely end; to keep a sharp /careful /watchful /professional eye on someone.

Idioms with verbs and nouns that are used together

The English language has many turns of expression which the learner can only learn to use if he is brought into direct contact with them. A student may know a large number of verbs and nouns, but may not know exactly how they can be put together to form typical English expressions. We shall try in this chapter to give the learner useful lists for reference and for learning typical verb-noun and noun-verb collocations, words which go together.

Certain verbs are followed automatically by certain nouns (the grammatical objects of the verbs). The verb may have different meanings in different collocations. For example, to bear fruit means 'to produce fruit', and to bear cold means 'to endure cold'. The following list gives verbs which commonly take certain nouns after them or which naturally go together with certain nouns. This will help the learner to know which nouns he can use together with which verbs. Explanations are provided for these collocations that are true idioms, whose meanings cannot be derived from the meanings of the individual words alone.

Idiomatic sentences with verbs and nouns that are used together

to abandon ship; all hope, a plan; one's wife and child.

to achieve an aim, a purpose; success, distinction in public life.

to acknowledge receipt of a letter; defeat, one's mistake; kindness.

to acquire knowledge, a taste (for something) ; an accent.

to adopt a child; a plan, an idea, a custom, new measures.

to air the bed(s), a room; one's views\opinion(s)/knowledge.

to alleviate suffering, pain.

to apprehend danger, difficulty; a criminal.

to ask a question, permission, the way, the time, the price of something, a favor of someone.

to attend a meeting, a lecture; school, church.

to bandy words (with someone) to exchange quick remarks (with him) in a quarrel.

to bear a burden, arms; responsibility, punishment, (the) cold/heat; resemblance to someone/something; witness (to something), false wit~ ness (against someone) ; a grudge (against someone), ill will/malice (towards someone); the expenses/charges/costs (of something). to bear fruit, children to produce them, to bear sway to exercise authority, to bear (someone) a hand to help him. to bear the brunt of something to endure the worst part or main strain of something.

to bind a book, the edge of a carpet; a prisoner, someone's hands and feet.

to break a promise, a resolution, one's word, a contract; the law, the peace; the silence; one's leg, arm etc; a seal, a link; contact with someone.

to bring an action/an accusation against someone; someone to justice; a letter/lecture etc to a close. (See also Chapter 10.)

to build a house, a ship; hopes, to build castles In the air to talk or think about things in the future which most probably will not come true.

to burn a cake (in the oven), toast etc; wood, oil; a hole in something; bricks/lime/charcoal; one's fingers etc. to burn one's fingers to suffer because you have interfered or meddled in someone else's affairs.

to bury a bone (dogs), to bury oneself in one's books/studies to spend a lot of time reading/studying, to bury the hatchet to become friends again after a quarrel or fight.

to call a doctor, a taxi; a meeting, a strike; (someone's) attention to something; someone (on the phone), to call someone names to describe him in abusing or insulting terms, to call a halt (to something) to say that it is time to stop something, to forbid it. to call the banns to announce a forthcoming marriage publicly in church, to call someone's bluff to invite him to carry out his threat because you do not believe that he will, to call someone/a meeting to order to ask for orderly behavior because someone/a meeting was too loud, undisciplined etc. to call a spade a spade to speak frankly, plainly.

to cancel an order (for goods etc) ; a meeting, to cancel a (postage) stamp to mark (or frank) it with the name of its place of origin.

to carry a burden; arms/a weapon; news, a message; a resolution, a motion, to carry weight to be influential, important, to carry the day to be victorious, to carry everything before one to be completely successful, to carry something too far to continue it (e.g. a joke, a risk) beyond what is reasonable or safe.

to cast a vote, lots; anchor; a glance at something; a gloom shadow on/ over something, to cast an 'eye over something to examine it briefly, to cast a new 'light on something to make it (e.g. a situation, a problem) easier to understand. Molting birds cast feathers is shed them.

to catch (a) fish; a ball; a thief; a train/bus; a cold, an infection; the spirit of an occasion; a glimpse/glance of something, sight of something/someone; hold of something/someone, to catch fire to begin to burn, to 'catch it (informal) to get a scolding or punishment from someone for doing something wrong, to catch someone's eye to attract his attention when he looks in your direction, to catch a Tartar to encounter an adversary who is too strong for you.

to change one's clothes; trains; money, to change one's mind to decide to do something different, to change one's tune to change to a different viewpoint, attitude etc.

to clear the table (after a meal) ; a jump/hurdle, to clear the decks (for action) to get ready to do something, to clear the air to get rid of suspicion or doubts by telling the true facts, to clear one's name (of suspicion etc) to remove all suspicion etc from one. to 'clear oneself (of a charge) to prove one's innocence.

to close a meeting/discussion; a shop; a school; a bank account; a road, to close a deal/bargain to agree on terms and complete the deal/bargain.

to collect stamps, coins etc; rents, taxes; statistics, data, news, information; votes, to collect one's thoughts/ideas to think carefully about one's thoughts/ideas before voicing them.

to compare prices, offers; ideas, findings, to compare notes (with someone) to exchange opinions, thoughts (with him).

to cook food, to cook the books to falsify a firm's accounts or records to one's own advantage, to cook someone's goose to stop him from doing mischief, to put an end to his plans.

to cross a road/river/the sea etc; a cheque, to cross a person's path to meet him unexpectedly, to cross someone's palm with

Idioms with verbs and nouns that are used together

silver to give silver money to a fortune-teller to have one's fortune told, to cross swords (with someone) to argue (with him).

to cultivate the land; an acquaintance, someone's friendship; an accent; the mind.

to cut oneself, one's finger etc; flowers; corn; bread, cake etc. to cut a corner/corners to take a short-cut, to cut a disc/record to make a gramophone record, to 'cut a person ('dead) to ignore someone when passing him. to cut a tooth to have a new tooth coming through the gum. to cut the Gordian knot to solve a problem by force, to cut a dash to show brilliant appearance and behavior to draw attention, to cut capers to play tricks, pranks.

to desert a friend, one's wife, one's country, one's colors, a cause.

to deserve praise, credit, a reward, thanks; punishment.

to dig a hole, a grave, a well, a trench, a foundation; the garden, the ground.

to direct a remark at someone; one's attention to something; an orchestra, a play; the traffic; one's energies towards (doing) something.

to draw a cart; a gun; a tooth; a/the curtain; a picture; blood; breath; water; money from the bank/one's account; a conclusion, an inference; a distinctional parallel/an analogy (between two things). to draw the line (at something) to fix a limit.

to drink water etc; poison; the health of someone/someone's health/to someone/to someone's health.

to drive a car etc; cattle; a bargain, to drive a hard bargain to be hard in a business deal, not to give in easily to another person, to drive someone mad to behave in such a way as to irritate or anger him.

to drop anchor; one's voice, to drop a word in someone's ear to inform him confidentially of something, to drop a line to someone to write to him. to drop someone a hint to give him a hint, to drop someone to stop being his friend, to drop Maths/History etc (at school etc) to stop learning that subject. to drop the subject (in conversation) to stop talking about it. to drop a stitch (in knitting) to let a stich slip off the needle, to drop a brick/clanger (informal) to do or say something which is very tactless or indiscreet.

to eat/ood, one's dinner etc. to eat one's heart out to suffer in silence because of worry, fear, anxiety, to eat one's words to admit that what one had said was wrong, to eat humble pie to apologise, to humble oneself.

to enter a trade/profession; the army; the Church; a school; a con¬vent.

Idiom* with verbs and nouns that are used together

to exercise a horse, troops; discipline, control, authority; caution, patience; one's talents; one's limbs.

to feed a baby, animals; an engine (eg with water, petrol) ; a furnace (with coal) ; information to someone.

to fill a glass, bottle etc; an office; a post, a vacancy; a tank with petrol, to fill the bill (informal) to meet the need or requirement.

to find something that was lost; courage; a solution; time; a cure for something; oil, gold, to find favour (with someone) to be acceptable (to him), to find fault (with something/someone) to criticise (it/him) negatively, to find one's voice/tongue to be able to speak after a period of silence because of shyness or nervousness, to find one's feet to gather confidence, to act independently.

to follow an examplejsomeone's example, a principle, an ideal; a leader, a guide; the road; the fashion; a trade, to follow suit to do the same as someone else.

to form an opinion, a resolution, an alliance, apian; an attachment to someone j something; judgements, conclusions; a line, a company (eg soldiers) ; good habits, bad habits; someone's mindlcharacter (eg a child's) ; (a) part of something.

to formulate ideas, thoughts, a doctrine.

to gain time; knowledge; power; a victory over something I someone, an advantage over someone; strength, importance; weight, to gain ground to make progress, to gain the day to be victorious, to gain the upper hand to win an advantage over one's enemy, rival, competitor etc.

to give evidence (at court), offence, praise, thanks; chase, help, a (helping) hand; a ride/lift; trouble, cause for complaint; (a) warn¬ing, advice, notice; a shout, a scolding, a shock; an/the impression; permission I authority (to do something) ; the alarm. (See also Chapter10.)

to grant a favour, a request, permission.

to grow flowers, vegetables; a beard.

to hang a person for murder, to hang wallpaper to fix it on a wall. to hang fire (of a gun) to be slow in going off, (of a person) to be slow in developing.

to have a house, a farm etc; abilities, talents, authority; room (for something) ; possession (of something) ; an appointment (with someone) ; influence; patience; a taste for something, an interest in something/someone; (an) effect; dealings with someone; a quick eye; a (good) understanding of something; a cold, a fever. (See also Chapter 10.)

to hear a noise, a voice, a shout etc; a report, a rumour, the news; evidence, a witness, you could hear a'pin drop (informal) it was very still and quiet.

to hold an/the opinionlview ; a post I appointment jposition ; an examination; a meeting/session; a council j parliament; a party/reception; one's breath; an audience, to hold the fort to be in charge during someone's absence, (not) to hold water (not) to be logical, valid (eg an argument, hypothesis), to hold the line (when speaking on the telephone) to keep the connection and wait. (See also Chapter 10.)

to keep a secret, a vow, a promise; faith; silence; the peace; guard, watch; a fast, a festival (ie observe); a horse, sheep; company with ,. someone/someone's company; a shop; a diary, accounts/books, to keep house to direct a household. (See also Chapter 10.)

to lay a foundation; a plan, a trap, an ambush; the table; a wire, a pipe; bricks; a tax on imports, a duty on wines; a wager; a charge against someone; siege to something; something to someone's charge. A hen lays eggs. (See also Chapter 10.)

to lead an army, a gang; the way (to somewhere) ; a busy/easy life; the fashion; the choir/singing; a (political) party, to lead someone astray to cause him to do wrong, to lead someone by the nose to make him do anything you wish him to do. to lead a woman to the altar to many her. to lead someone 'on (informal) means to persuade or entice him to do something that he does not really wish to do.

to leave the room, home, school; (someone) a legacy.

to lend a book, money; assistance, a (helping) hand; one's name/support to a project, to lend one's ear to something to listen attentively.

to light a cigarette, a lamp, a fire.

to load a cart, a ship, a donkey; agun; one's stomach (with too much food), to load the dice (against someone) to do something which will give one an unfair advantage (over him).

to lose one's life, one's reputation, one's job/position, one's way, one's memory, one's bearings, one's case (in a court of law), one's (eye-) sight; favour (with someone); men (in a war); money; patience (with something) ; interest (in something). to lose one's temper to become angry, to lose one's head to lose the ability to think clearly and logically, to panic, to lose one's reason/senses to become wild with emotion or excitement, to lose the thread of something to fail to follow or remember the main line or thoughts of an argument, story etc. to lose heart to become discouraged. to lose one's tongue to say nothing because of shyness or nervousness, to lose track of someone/something to lose contact with him/it.

to love a person, a pet animal; one's country; music, painting etc; comfort, good food etc.

make a speech, a suggestion/proposal, a promise;

Chapter 2

a)This paper offers some suggestions (including sample exercises) for the teaching of idiomatic language. First, the relation between non-idiomatic and erroneous language in foreign language learning is examined, and it is concluded that non-idiomatic sentences do not so much break categorical rules as venture into the grey area of weak combinatorial probabilities between linguistic items. Idiomaticity is thus seen as a scale, but less idiomatic is not necessarily to be equated with less acceptable, since both conventionalised and original language have their place in discourse. Crucial is the issue of appropriateness in context. Full-blown idioms represent firm collocations whose meaning is conventionalised and metaphorical. Where this meaning takes on an aphoristic quality we have proverbs. The underlying principle of metaphor provides a structural systematicity to the lexis, which extends far beyond full idioms into all but the most core uses of lexical items. It is suggested that exercises of a problem-solving nature will help learners to unearth these pervasive metaphors in idiomatic language, and some exercises are presented.

5. Pedagogical Implications

This has important pedagogical implications. Bartlett (1932) established in a whole series of experiments in which subjects were presented with incomplete or inconclusive drawings or narratives that subjects sought to impose meaning on the item by fitting it into their own meaning structures. Thus, stories which contained references to unfamiliar cultural practices were modified in memory so as to fit in with subjects' own cultural expectations. Bartlett called this essential characteristic of human cognitive processing "effort after meaning". The very fact that idiomatic language and proverbs are so semantically opaque makes them excellently suited to a problem-solving approach in teaching which can exploit learners' innate cognitive drive to make sense out of their environment. The exercises presented below are intended to be purely indicative of the approach I am advocating, rather than being a recipe for success. There is nothing cut and dried about them. Rather, they are intended merely as guidelines whereby the teacher can stimulate cognitive activity. They are intended to be used not as a testing instrument but as a teaching aid to provoke discussion and brain-storming. Comparisons with the L1 should be encouraged so that learners become aware in which respects their language resembles English in the underlying conceptual metaphors it employs and where it differs. In multi-cultural classes interesting patterns of similarity and difference emerge here, and clearly this is a field which has been hardly researched. Students will become highly motivated to translate their language's metaphor into English so as to impart to the class their own culture's method of metaphorical encoding. Sometimes reasons for similarities and differences among languages can be adduced from obvious cultural differences (e.g. metaphors deriving from the Bible in Christian cultures, or differences concerning gastronomy, climate, geography), but some- times differences are not explicable. I have also found that students react evaluatively to different metaphors in different languages, such as English "a bull in a china shop" compared to German "an elephant in a china shop". One can debate which the «better» metaphor is.

6. Sample Exercises: A

Task: 1) Try to work out the meaning of these idioms.

2) Do you have idioms in your language which have the same meaning as some of these?

a storm in a teacup

to have your heart in your mouth

to have a bone to pick with someone

to cut off your nose to spite your face

to drink like a fish

to kill two birds with one stone

to be like a cat on hot bricks

to make a mountain out of a molehill

to pull someone's leg

once bitten twice shy

Comment: This exercise should be done in groups. The teacher should first make sure that the literal meaning of each lexical item is known to the class. (Dictionaries should not be used). Otherwise students are not in a position to employ inferencing strategies. Often L1 idioms will help students to arrive at the solution. Sometimes there will be false friends, however. This is all to the good, since when the teacher goes through the solutions, it is the incorrect guesses which will be focused on so as to aid retention in memory of the correct solution, which the teacher will first try to coax from students and, if all fails, will explain.

In the above form the exercise is suitable for advanced students. Much interesting discussion and exchange of information will arise from inter-lingual comparisons in a multilingual class, as students work hard to literally translate their own L1 equivalent idiom. This promotes the sort of cognitive analytic activity which will help to build a separate store of L2 idioms linked by meaning associations to the much richer L1 store. All students will benefit from the realisation that different languages may use different conceptual metaphors.

For less advanced classes the task can be facilitated by means of line drawings of the idioms' underlying metaphor which students first have to match to the appropriate idiom. Next, they may match idiom and drawing to a jumbled list of definitions which the teacher has prepared.

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