The spectrum of idiomacitySemi-Transparent IdiomsTransparent IdiomsSemi-OpaqueIdiomsOpaqueIdioms
The spectrum of idiomacity Transparent IdiomsE.g. to see the light = to understand Semi-transparent IdiomsE.g. break the ice = relieve the tension Semi-opaque IdiomsE.g. to pass the buck = to pass responsibility Opaque IdiomsE.g. To burn one’s boat = to make retreat impossible.Spill the beans = reveal a secret
Classification of idiomsby Jennifer Seidl & W.McMordie Informal Idioms Formal Idioms Verbal Idioms Idiomatic Pairs Idioms Used in Special Fields Idioms Related to Special Themes Idioms with ComparisonsClassification of idioms are very variedaccording to each scholar
by Fernado Pure idioms Semi-idioms Literal idiomsby Halliday Ideational idioms Interpersonalidioms Relational idiomsby Adam Makkai Idioms of Encoding(Identifiable) Idioms of Decoding(Non-identifiable)And other authorslike McCarthy andO’Dell..Classification of idioms
Why using idioms?‚People use idioms to make theirlanguage richer and more colorfuland to convey subtle shades ofmeaning or intention. Idioms are usedoften to replace a literal word orexpression, and many times the idiombetter describes the full nuance ofmeaning. ‛(Gail Brenner, Websters New World American IdiomsHandbook.Websters New World, 2003)
Examples A Piece of Cake:A task that can be accomplished veryeasily. Apple of My Eye:Someone who is cherished above allothers. Bite Off More Than You Can Chew:To take on a task that is way too big. Cup Of Joe:A cup of coffee. Cut to the Chase:Leave out all the unnecessary details and
Look daggers at somebodyto look very angrily at someone:I suddenly noticed David looking daggers at me and thought Idbetter shut up.
Defining Idioms PROTOTYPICAL PROPERTIES CONVENTIONALITY INFLEXIBILITY FIGURATION PROVERBIALITY INFORMALITY AFFECT(NUNBERG, SAG & WASOW, 1994, p. 492-3)
Semantics Meaningabstracted awayfrom users Non-situation-specificmeaning Sentencemeaning ReferentialPragmatics• Meaning inrelation tospeakers andhearers• Situation-specificmeaning• Speaker meaning• Contextual(SAEED, 2003, p. 17)IDIOMS
Semantics‟ ApproachesReferential Put words intorelationship with theworld is meaning Show how words can„hook onto‟ the world Give the meaning ofwords and sentencesby showing how theyrelate to situationsRepresentational• A languagerepresents atheory, amodel aboutreality, aboutthe types ofthings andsituations inthe worldIDIOMS
Metaphors vs Idioms• Metaphor: “An expression that describes a person orobject by referring to something that is consideredto possess similar characteristics.” CambridgeAcademic Content DictionaryExamples: Life is a journey / She is a flower.• Problem: By adopting fixed structures in a specificculture, some metaphors produce idioms withproperties “that have no corresponding counterpartsin another language.”Claudia Leah. Idioms: Grammaticality and Figurativeness.University of Oradea.
Idioms, in general, are connected toCultureENGLISH:Kick the bucket To diePORTUGUESE:Chutar o balde Abandonar tudo/desencanar
It’s Raining cats anddogs! Está chovendo canivetes!
Linguistic Relativity The way we think about the world isdetermined by our cultural and linguisticbackground: Language mirrors cultural differences; Different languages, reflecting theirspeakers’ cultural practices, might embodydifferent conceptual classifications of theworld; ‚Language is a guide to ‘social reality’.‛(Sapir,1949b, p. 162 apud Saeed, 2003, p. 42)
Play one’s cards rightto do the correct things toachieve a desired result:If I play my cards right, I could behired as a consultant on that project.
Pragmatics“A pragmatic theory is a theory which has to explain how alanguage is used to enable any speaker tocommunicate with the other”(Kempson,1975:136)COOPERATIVE PRINCIPLE (GRICE)“ Participants will be expected to make their contribution such as isrequired, at the stage at which it occurs, by the accepted purposeor direction of the talk exchange in which they are engaged.”Grice4 conversational maxims1. Quantity – informativeness2. Quality – truthfulness3. Manner – Don‟t be obscure, ambiguous...
Idioms cause a break in the cooperationact.• When a hearer discovers a violation, he tries to reinterpret what was said.Searle‟s analysis1st – The literal meaning isdetermined.2nd – The meaning is checkedagainst the context.3rd – If there is a conflictbetween the literal meaning andthe context, it is reinterpretedand a conveyed meaning isdelivered.
Relationship between speaker andhearerhttp://thebackrow105.wordpress.com/
Knowledge as Context Discourse context Knowledge of the preceding discourse Knowledge of the immediate context Formation of the discourse topic Background knowledge as contextCommon-sense, encyclopaedic, sociocultural,real-world knowledgeOne calculates others would have before aconversation due to belonging to a specificcommunity Also labeled common ground(SAEED, 2003, p. 191-3)
Brazilian IdiomsEven among native speakers,idioms may be hard tounderstandbecause ofdifferent cultural backgrounds,age groups, etc.
Idioms and Compositionality What problems do idioms present forCompositionality? Idiomatically combining expressions ( e.g. takeadvantage, pull strings) and Idiomatic phrases (e.g.kick the bucket) Synonyms (Paraphrasing idioms) Passivization(G. Nunberg, I. Sag and T. Wasow, 1994, pp.491-538.)
References NUNBERG,Geoffrey, SAG, Ivan A., WASOW, Thomas. Idioms.In Language, Vol. 70, No. 3 (Sep., 1994), pp. 491-538.Linguistic Society of America. Available at:http://www.jstor.org/stable/416483 SAEED, J. I. Semantics. 2nd edition, Blackwell Publishing,2003. WESTERSTAHL, Dag. Idioms and compositionality. Availableat: http://www.illc.uva.nl/j50/contribs/westerstahl/westerstahl.pdf LEAH, Claudia. Idioms: Grammaticality and Figurativeness.University of Oradea. Available at:http://www.theroundtable.ro/Current/Language/Claudia_Leah_Idioms_Grammaticality_and_Figurativeness.pdfPresentation available at:SLIDESHARETags: idioms, letras, usp, elizabeth, harkot.
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