Департамент образования города Севастополя
ГБОУ «Гимназия №8»
Работа на конкурс
научно-исследовательских работ учащихся
«Молодёжь в науке и творчестве»
Тема: Idioms as Part of the Culture
ученица 10-А класса
ГБОУ «Гимназия №8»
учитель английского языка
ГБОУ «Гимназия №8»
2. Chapter 1
What is an Idiom?
3. Chapter 2
The topic of my research work is “Idioms as Part of the Culture”.
I consider idioms to be an interesting phenomenon in any language. They add colour to the language, helping us to emphasize meaning and to make our observations, judgments and explanations lively and interesting. They are also very useful tools for communicating a great deal of meaning in just a few words.
When are idioms used?
Idioms are used in a wide variety of contexts and situations. They are often used in spoken language, in situations that range from friendly conversations to business meetings. Idioms are used in written speach as well, especially in journalism where writers frequently use them to bring their stories to life. In my research work I tried to give the information about the context and situations in which they are most likely to encounter a particular idiom.
The aim of my research work is to reflect the wide range of idioms connected with different colours and that are being used in British and American English today.
The English language as well as Russian is rich in idioms. Without idioms languages would lose much of their variety, humor both in speech and writing. An idiom (Latin: idioma, "special property", Greek: idioma, "special feature, special phrasing") is an expression, word, or phrase where the words together have a figurative meaning which is different from the dictionary definitions of the individual words, that is, separate from the literal meaning or definition of the words of which it is made. This makes idioms hard for the second language students and learners to understand. When a speaker uses an idiom, the listener might mistake its actual meaning, if he or she has not heard this figure of speech before. Idioms usually do not translate well. In some cases, when an idiom is translated into another language, either its meaning is changed or it is meaningless.
In lingustics, idioms are usually presumed to be figures of speech contradicting the principle of compositionality. Some linguists define an “idiom” as collocated words that became affixed to each other until metamorphosing into a fossilised term. This collocation (words commonly used in a group) redefines each component word in the word-group and becomes an idiomatic expression. The words develop a specialised meaning as an entity, is an idiom. Idioms tend to confuse those unfamiliar with them. Many natural language words have idiomatic origins, but are assimilated, so losing their figurative senses.
Because an idiom is generally an expression the meaning of which is not predictable from the usual grammatical rules of a language or from the usual meanings of the elements it consists of, it requires some foundational knowledge, information, or experience, to use only within a culture. Idioms are not considered part of the language, but part of the culture. As culture typically is localized, idioms often are useless beyond their local context; nevertheless, some idioms can be more universal than others, can be easily translated, and the metaphoric meaning can be deduced.
Unlike many other aspects of the language, an idiom does not readily change as time passes. Some idioms gain and lose favor in popular culture, but they rarely have any actual shift in their construction. People also have a natural tendency to overexaggerate what they mean sometimes, giving birth to new idioms by accident.
An idiom dictionary explains idiosyncratic stock phrases and metaphors in language. Typical English idiom dictionaries, e.g. that published by Longman, define about 4000 phrases, e.g. “buy the farm”, “hit the road”, “canary in a coal mine”. Of these, a tiny subset, generally involving prepositions or action verbs, are very basic to the language, and are closely related to fundamental conceptual metaphors. These include forms like turn into.
Idiom dictionaries, as well as dictionaries in general, may or may not rely on a defining vocabulary of terms wich are used only in their simplest senses, to minimise the number of such basic conceptual metaphors and polymorphic word uses, and make definitions easier for someone unfamiliar with the language to comprehend, such as children or students of English as an additional language.
The Cambridge International Dictionary of idioms explains over 7000 idioms current in British, American and Australian English, helping learners to understand them and use them with confidence. For example, it is estimated there are at least 25000 idiomatic expressions in American English.
Today I present the most popular idiomatic phrases connected with different colours: black, white, blue, green, red, pink, rose, brown, purple.
In black and white.
1. If a fact, agreement, or promise is in the black and white, it is written down so that everyone can see exactly what it is.
E.g. I looked at the lease and it’s there In black and white-we aren’t allowed to keep pets.
2. If you see, judge or describe a situation in black and white, you think about it in a way that seems too simple, as if everything or everyone in it was either completely good or completely bad.
E. g. Everything is black and white with her. You can’t ask her to see the subtleties of the situation.
Be in the black.
To have money in your bank account.
E.g. Peters said that the company was still in the black,
but it would probably have to make job cuts.
Somebody is not as black as he/she is painted.
Used in order to say that someone is not as bad as people think they are.
E.g. I’ve never met Stackwell, but I should think he’s probably not as black as he’s painted.
The black sheep of the family.
Used about someone who is considered embarrassing by other members of their family or group, because they are less successful or more immoral than the rest.
E.g. I never met Hugh’s parents-judging by what he told me, I think he was the black sheep of the family.
Give somebody a black eye.
To do something that harms someone who you do not like, by making them seem weak or stupid.
E.g. I was prepared to preach the word of the Lord, and give the godless a black eye.
Bleed somebody dry/white.
To make the financial situation of a person, country, organization, etc weaker by making it use all its money, strength and energy.
E.g. Six years of legal battles have bleed the Kentucky company white.
As white as a sheet/ghost.
Very pale because you are frightened, ill, etc.
E.g. What’s the matter? You’re as white as a sheet, and you’re shaking.
A white lie.
A lie thаt is not very important, often one that you tell because you do not want to upset someone.
E.g. My father does not approve of Brenda, so I‘ve told him a tiny little white lie and said that I’ill be staying with you for a week or so.
Whiter than white.
Used about someone who is always honest and does what is morally right, so that they sometimes seem to good to be beliеved.
E.g. Journalists revealing the abuse of political
power are the cinema’s new whiter than white heroes.
A white elephant.
Something that is completely useless, even though it costs a lot of money.
E.g. What this town needs is more parks, not another white elephant office block.
Out of the blue.
If something happens or someone does something out of the blue, you have no reason to expect it and it surprises you.
E.g. This man I was interviewing asked me out of the blue if I’d go out to dinner with him.
A bolt from the blue (also a bolt out of the blue).
Used about something that happens suddenly and surprises everyone.
E.g. We hadn’t worked for Harrods before, and their order came like a bolt from the blue.
In a blue funk.
Very unhappy or worried about something.
E.g. He seems to be in a blue funk about school or something. I can’t get him to talk to me.
Until/till you’re blue in the face.
Used in order to say that although someone spends a lot of time and effort doing something, they will not achieve anything.
E.g. You can argue till you’re blue in the face. I’m not going to change my mind.
Once in a blue moon.
Used in order to say that something rarely or almost never happens.
E.g. Elliot never had much idea of what it means to be a father, and since the divorce he just comes round to see the boys once in a blue moon.
Have green fingers.
To be good at looking after plants so that they grow well.
E.g. If you have green fingers, you can make even a tiny balcony or patio into a secret garden.
The grass is (always) greener on the other side of the fence.
Used in order you say that what someone else has always seems better than what you have.
E.g. I used to long for retirement- but, you know how it is, the grass is always greener somewhere else.
Green around the gills = Greеn about the gills.
Looking sick or pale because you are shocked, afraid, or ill.
E.g. Her description of a medieval feast left her audience green around the gills.
Green with envy.
Used in order to say that someone is very upset or annoyed because they wish they had someone’s possessions, abilities, success, etc.
E.g. Modern surveillance technology would make even James Bond green with envy.
The rub of the green.
Good luck in a game involving a ball (often used in newspapers, magazines, on TV, news, etc)
E.g. West Ham seem to have got the rub of the green at the moment- let’s hope it lasts.
A red-letter day.
Used about a very special day, when something exciting or important happens.
E.g. The day you were born was certainly a red-letter day in this household.
To suddenly become very angry because of something that someone has said to you.
E.g. I was beginning to see red. I don’t like being accused of something I didn’t do.
Be in the red.
To have no money in your bank account.
E.g. The plant continued operating in the red, until the board of directors finally shut it down.
Paint the town red.
To go out to bars, clubs, etc. to enjoy yourself at night.
E.g. Noufara is a great place to meet for cocktails before painting the town red.
Catch somebody red handed.
Сatch someone in the act of doing something wrong or illegal.
E.g. Ha! Caught you red handed. I told you no more cookies before dinner.
(Like) a red rag to a bull.
Used in order to say that doing or saying a particular thing will definitely make someone angry or upset.
E.g. Behavior which seems innocuous to one person can be a red rag to another.
In the pink.
Feeling very healthy.
E.g. The health visitor says you have to go off to the country to get in the pink again.
To be tickled pink.
To be very pleased that something has happened (used especially in newspapers, magazines, etc.)
E.g. Polly Draper’s mother was tickled pink that her daughter was finally getting married.
See something through rose-colored glasses/spectacles.
To think of only the good parts of a situation and pretend that the bad parts do not exist, so that you always think things are better than they are.
E.g. A lot of people are looking at the stock market through rose- colored glasses, ignoring higher interest rates.
Be in a brown study.
To be thinking about something so hard that you do not notice anything around you.
E.g. I arrived to find Sam sunk in a brown study, his normally sharp eyes vague.
Be born to the purple.
Used in order to say that someone’s family is at the highest level of society.
E.g. Usually, a governor’s aides were young men who had been born to the purple.
In conclusion I’d like to say that I identified as many idioms as possible connected with different colours and all their variations, watched the contexts in which they are typically used and determined how frequent they are.
The work consists of two Chapters, an Appendix of the colours most frequently used in the English idioms, the list of literature and the computer presentation.
In the first chapter brief information about an idiom, its notion, origin and the sphere of its usage is given. An idiom is an expression, word, or phrase where the words together have a figurative meaning which is different from the dictionary definitions of the individual words, that is, separate from the literal meaning or definition of the words of which it is made.
Idioms are used in everyday conversation, at school lessons, business meetings and different local government sessions. We use idioms in a wide variety of contexts, situations, different written sources (books, magazines, newspapers, texts) to bring them to life.
Because an idiom is generally an expression the meaning of which is not predictable from the usual grammatical rules of a language or from the usual meanings of the elements it consists of, it requires some foundational knowledge, information, or experience, to use only within a culture. Idioms are not considered part of the language, but part of the culture. As culture typically is localized, idioms often are useless beyond their local context.
The second chapter contains explanations of how the idiom is used or varied. The most popular idiomatic phrases connected with different colours are presented in it. They are black, white, blue, green, red, pink, rose, brown, purple.
The diagram of the colours most frequently used in the English idioms is presented in the work. (See Appendix). One can see that the most frequently used colour is Red - 20%. Then goes Black - 15%. White is 15%, Blue is 15%, Green is 15%, Pink is 10% and at last Rose, Purple and Brown are 10% together.
Computer presentation of the research work is also at your disposal.
The main aim of the research work, i.e. to reflect the wide range of idioms connected with different colours has been achieved.
Colours most frequently used in the English idioms
Longman Idioms Dictionary. Addison Wesley Longman Limited, 1998.
2. The Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of Current English by Hornby A.S., Gatenby E.V., Wakefield H.
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