Linguistics: Communication, Idioms and World Languages


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This is a capstone research project required for graduate students at The New York City University (CUNY- CCNY) pursuing masters degree in World Languages, Education, Culture, TESOL, Foreign Language and Bilingual Education program. The topic covered is the impact and affect that idioms play in the neurological development and assimilation of learning another language.

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Linguistics: Communication, Idioms and World Languages

  1. 1. Linguistics for Educators – EDCE 2600C Research: Idiomatic Expressions - Is anything lost in the language?
  2. 2. Idioms, anyone?• Idioms - are expressions in the usage of a language that is peculiar to itself either grammatically (as no, it wasnt me) or in having a meaning that cannot be easy derived from the meeting of its elements.• Think of it as, the words combined have a meaning that different from the dictionary, a hidden message.
  3. 3. This Presentation’s Research Question? What are the linguistic difficulties experienced or faced by ELLs (English Language Learners) when they encounter idioms?
  4. 4. Research SummaryAssumption:  When referring to English as a first language, we mean SAE  No proficiency levels established for ELLsChallenge:  We could have had idioms in other languages translatedData & Analysis:  We selected 4 English and 4 Spanish idioms  Created groupings of participants ELL vs. English first language
  5. 5. Research Methodology The selection of two groups of participants, English and Spanish speakers Six (6) participants of each group Presented them with “idiomatic phrase” translated verbatim to each group. Gather the individual’s translation of the phrase, do they get true ‘hidden’ meaning of the message? Audio taped the participants interpretations Reversed the language, a Spanish idiomatic expression presented to an English person.
  6. 6. Group A – English as a First LanguageIdiom MeaningInside his pocket Secured, in my corner and nothing to worry aboutDog in his own house Without reservations, to familiar almost in a rude sort of wayGive you salsa A piece of my mind, tell you what I think without restrictions or reservationsTo get burned To fail, associated with destruction
  7. 7. Group B – English Language Learners (ELLs)Idiom MeaningLike pulling teeth Very difficult to do, strenuousBone to pick with you An unresolved issue to address with youHit the hay Get some rest, relaxCat out of the bag Disclosed the information although it was implied to be secret or something private
  8. 8. Data Summary – Group AGroup A – (English first language) Used problem solving techniques Visualized Practiced word associations Easily identified keywords Willingness to figure out meanings Mainly more confident and less body language (frowning, hand gestures, etc.)
  9. 9. Data Summary – Group BGroup B - English Language Learners Used problem solving techniques that were more kinesthetic by nature Applied verbatim interpretations Practiced word association with use of first language Mis-identified keywords and synonyms Straight out said, “I don’t know, can’t figure it out” Depicted more body language, i.e. frowning, hand gestures, etc.
  10. 10. Summary of Contributions to Educators of Second Language Learners Introduce an idiom every week, discussing what students think they mean, what it really means, and how to use it. Offer two or three sentence readings to our students and have them pick out the idioms in their readings. Provide pictures to go with the idiom and use the picture with the play on words exercise to recognize the meaning of an idiom.
  11. 11. Following Research Study Questions How can educators incorporate the use of words and language play to figure out the hidden meaning of idioms? Would the different use of intonation, such as word stress, speed, and voice, help the participants better understand the idioms?
  12. 12. These Difficulties are Faced by All Language Learners, It’s Global
  13. 13. Lost in Translation
  14. 14. Ziva Idioms
  15. 15. Flies and Honey
  16. 16. Credits Winger, Ph.D, Lynn W. and Savaiano, Ph.D, Eugene, “Modismos Ingleses Para Hispanos”, 2nd Edition, 2007, Barrons Educational Series Weibel, Peter, “The Big Red Book of Spanish Idioms,” 1st Edition, 2004, McGraw Hill Publishers Collins, Harry, “101 American English Idioms,” 2nd Edition, 2007, McGraw Hill Publishers Youtube Clips, NCIS Television Series, courtesy of NBC
  17. 17. В конце, El Fin, 終わり , 最终的, The City College of New York 160 Convent Avenue New York, NY 10031 Tel: (212) 650-5242  Completed: Summer 2012 - EDCE 2600C  Course Study: Graduate Coursework, School of EducationThe End, ESL, Bilingualism, TESOL or Foreign Language  Professor, Linguist, Professional: Mary F. Carpenter, BS, MA Faculty, Editor Communication, Multicultural Multilingual Studies, Steinhardt, New York University, NY  Student Team: Herrera, Elizabeth – Alumni, Pace University, Westchester, NY and New York University, SCPS, New York, NY Martinez, Emilia - Alumni, Manhattan College, Riverdale, NY,  Final Grade: A