Idioms and fixed expressionsIdioms are sets expression of two or more words that means something other than the literal meaning of its individual words.Fixed expressions are standard form of expression that has taken on a more specific meaning than the expression itself. It is different from a proverb in that it is used as a part of a sentence, and is the standard way of expressing a concept or idea.
A speaker can not: Change the order of the words in it.e.g. The short and the long of it Put the horse before the cart Delete a word from ite.g. Talk until the cows come home Hit the bulls-eye Add a word to ite.g. Piece of delicious cake The very long and short of it Replace a word with anothere.g. Butterflies in your stomach Slip of the tongue
Fixed expressions as well as proverbs allow little or no variation in form.Unlike idioms, fixed expressions and proverbs often have fairly transparent meaning.For example: Fixed expression: all of a sudden, come into mind, get out of my head Proverb: unless you move no achievements would be possible, no pain no gain, impossible is nothing Idioms: Every cloud has its silver lining
Idioms, fixed expressions, and the direction of translationThe main problems: The ability to recognize and interpret an idiom correctly; and the difficulties involved in rendering the various aspects of meaning that idiom or fixed expression conveys into the target language.
The interpretation of idiomsAs far as idioms are concerned, the first difficulty that a translator comes across is being able to recognize that she/he is dealing with an idiomatic expressionThere are idioms that easily recognizable include expression which violate truth conditions, such as It’s raining cats and dogs, throw caution to the winds, storm in at ea cup, jump down someone’s throat, and food for thought
There are two cases in which an idiom can be easily misinterpreted if one is not already familiar with it.a. Some idioms are ‘misleading’ E.g. go out withb. An idiom in the source language may have a very close counterpart in the target language which looks similar on the surface but has a totally or partially different meaning E.g. Has she got your tongue?
The translation of idioms: difficulties1. An idiom or fixed expression may have no equivalent in the target language. One language may express a given meaning by means of single word, another may express by means of an idiom, and so on.For example:In Arabic : wa tafadalu biqbuul fa’iq al-ihtiraam (and be kind enough to acept (our) highest respects)In English : Yours faithfully or Yours sincerely
In English : to carry coals to NewcasleIn German : Nach Athen tragen (to carry owls to Athen)In French : porter de I’eau a la riviere (to carry water to the river)They have no equivalent in target language, but have the same meaning : to supply something to someone who already has plenty of it
2. An idiom or fixed expression may have a similar counterpart in the target language, but its context of use may be different. For example: English idiom: To sing a different tune (to say or do something that signals a change in opinion because it contradicts what one has said or done before Chinese : chang-dui-tai-xi (to sing a different tunes/ to sing a duet)
3. An idiom may be used in the source text in both its literal and idiomatic senses at the same time For example: I’ll cut off my right arm= pigs might fly (something impossible or at least highly unlikely to happen)
4. The very convention of using idioms in written discourse, the context in which they can be used, and their frequency of use may be different in the source and target language.
Idiom Meaning• Make up your mind • decide something/choice quickly• Pay the price • accept bad effect from something we’ve done• Playing with fire • do something that can endanger other people• Every cloud has silver • everything has its blessing lining• a piece of cake • Easy• a Slip of the tongue • uninhibited comment• butterfly in your • feel nervous stomach• To get out of hand • To allow a situation to get out of control• To pay through the • someone has paid more money for nose something than what that something is worth.