Tuesday, October 4, 2016

InterculturalCom: Language & Culture: Beware of Idioms (W7-P2) Fa16

Beware of using idioms in intercultural settings.

An idiom is "a group of words whose meaning cannot be predicted from the meanings of the constituent words, as for example ( It was raining ) cats and dogs" or "kick the bucket or hang one's head." (Dictionary.com).  See additional information, plus examples here.  

“A traditional way of saying something. Often an idiom, such as 'under the weather,' does not seem to make sense if taken literally. Someone unfamiliar with English idioms would probably not understand that to be 'under the weather' is to be sick.” (American Heritage New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy)

Why would you want to be careful about using idioms in intercultural situations? 
Any connections between idioms and emblems?

Example of a Chinese idiom:  "Dui niu tan ching"
It literally means “Playing music for a cow.”
See image here.

If a wife told her husband that talking to him is like "dui niu tan ching," what is she really saying?
Does this translate into any American idioms?

If you are in an intercultural situation where idioms are used how can you figure out the meaning?

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