Monday, April 6, 2015

Idiomatic Expressions - the Fashion of Language

Idioms impart grace and force, color and temper to any language.  They illumine or mask the meaning of what we wish to say or hear. Good speakers and writers have a mastery of idiomatic expressions.    

Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature - School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid (People's School-on-Air) with Ms Melly C Tenorio
738 DZRB AM Band, 8 to 9 evening class, Monday to Friday []

You may not be aware but you are using now and then - consciously or not - idiomatic expressions. Idioms have become integrated in the language you are using.

In fact, there are thousands of idioms, and they occur frequently in all languages. The English language alone has at least twenty-five thousand idiomatic expressions.

Love is Blind (and lovers can't see) as interpreted in a romantic piece of sculpture by Donato Barcaglia. (Wikipedia)

Just be careful; idioms usually do not translate well. In some cases, when an idiom is translated directly word-for-word into another language, either its meaning is changed or it becomes meaningless. And you may not get your message across. You end up with an empty bag. Worst, you get misunderstood and get into trouble.

Watch out on the part of the other party. For example, when one says "The devil is in the details" he is referring to things that may look good on the surface, but upon scrutiny, undesirable aspects are revealed.

Many idioms however are not difficult to interpret. They are understood directly and not figuratively. such as these examples: 

Waste not, want not. To err is human (to forgive divine).  In conversation the other party may exppress the second or consequential part. Which means you understand each other. You are in the same wavelength of discussion, so to speak.

An idiom (Latin: idioma, "special property", from Greek: idíōma, "special feature, special phrasing, a peculiarity, " is a phrase or affix that has a figurative, or sometimes literal, meaning. 

These are common idioms and their meanings: 

1. During a downpour or heavy rain it's common to hear some one say, It's raining cats and dogs.

2. Letting out a secret.usually ends up in exclamation: Oh, you spilled the beans! 

3. You realize some one is pulling your leg. It's a trick, he is telling something untrue..

4. When will you drop her a line? It means to send her a note or call her.

5. You should keep an eye out for that. - to keep an eye out for something means to maintain awareness of it so that you notice it as it occurs.

6. You can manage a given situation. Talk to yourself, "I can't keep my head above water." 

7. In a thesis defense, the candidate had butterflies in her stomach. (very nervous)

8. Feeling blue? Are you sad? Monday Blues, a carry over of a bad weekend. 

9. It's a closed book. Our relationship is finished. .

10. The early bird gets the worm.  It's a very popular proverb, he who arrives early gets credit.  There is an advantage of being an early comer.  .

11. That jacket costs an arm and a leg.. It means something is very expensive.

12. It is not rocket science, means something that is not difficult.

13. Cheerful and amusing is expressed a bundle of laughs.

14. Put a cork in an impolite way to say, "shut up!" (another idiom), be quiet, and stop talking.

15. It's a dog's life is a wretched existence; cat and dog life is full of quarrels. 

16. A deep, sound sleep (deadsleep); a position of success, happiness and prosperity (place in the sun); a closely kept secret that is a source of shame and embarrassment (skeleton in the closet).

17. Have you been stabbed in the back?  Not literally. You were treacherously betrayed. .  

18. Shhh...just between you and me (confidentially)

19. You may be referring to someone who is reliable and supportive (tower of strength)  such as a basketball star (another idiom).

20. Bird's eyeview refers to an overall view or survey; eagle eye means sharp vision.

21. What job would you prefer? White collar or blue-collar?.(Office or field work?)

22. Remember the boy in an Aesop fable who cried wolf? Repeated false alarm or cry for help ends up with no one coming to your rescue.when you really need it. Do crocodiles shed tears? Of course not. They do feel sorrow.

23. Give and take (fair exchange) is a proverb. 

24, To go places speaks of success, a compliment; mother country expresses nationalism. 

25, Warnings: Don't jump the gun, don't begin before the starting signal is given.  This is my last word (final warning or advice). Save face, else you lose your reputation.

Add to the list the following:
Use each idiom in a particular situation as you would likely encounter. 

  1. Sharp tongue
  2. Straight from the horse's mouth 
  3. Stretch your legs 
  4. Bark up the wrong tree
  5. Onion skin 
  6. Put something to bed
  7. Naked truth 
  8. Hot news
  9. By hook, or by crook 
  10. Hard words
  11. For better or for worse
  12. Pat on the back
  13. Man of his word
  14. Labor of love
  15. Level playing field
  16. Babe in arms   
  17. Beat around the bush
  18. Best of both worlds
  19. Actions speak louder than words
  20. Add insult to injury
  21. At the drop of a hat
  22. Back to the drawing board
  23. Cry over spilt milk
  24. Curiosity killed the cat
  25. Devil's Advocate
  26. Don't count your chickens before the eggs have hatched
  27. Don't put all your eggs in one basket
  28. Cut corners
  29. Place in the sun 
  30. Every cloud has a silver lining
  31. Hit the nail on the head
  32. It takes two to tango
  33. Jump on the bandwagon
  34. Take it with a grain of salt
  35. Taste of your own medicine   

Fred kicked the bucket.
Understood compositionally, Fred has literally kicked an actual, physical bucket. The much more likely idiomatic reading, however, is non-compositional: Fred is understood to have died.

Acknowledgement: Wikipedia, Internet, Book of Idioms prepared by Niña Enriquez; Living with Nature Series, AVR

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