What is the most terrifying fear of yours when it comes to mastering a new language? Is it grammar, speaker’s accent or the lack of vocabulary? Put all these things away as when it comes to idioms – you will be driven insane with their illogical sense! Any language has its own special collection of most common wise sayings. Such combinations reflect some basic ideas, principles and values of a certain culture and society. These are called “idioms” and they are widely spread in English language making it harmonious and confusing at the same time.
It goes without saying, they come up both in written and spoken English. The point is that idioms (not only in English but also other languages) don’t make any sense when translating them literary, that is why it is significant to familiarize yourself with the meaning and use them appropriate, so that you could avoid some awkward situations. The correct usage of idiomatic expressions is essential for all those who are learning English, as it will make their language sound more “native”. Moreover, it makes you understand speech when watching English movies and news, or just reading magazines and newspapers. Hereby we will talk about all of these main peculiarities of the idioms and kindly invite you to take part in the learning process as it will surely help you in your further study as well as work.
What Is an Idiom?
An idiom is a linguistic statement and its meaning is different from the one derived from the values of its individual constituent elements and language rules. That is why idioms cause some difficulties while translating them into your native language. Where did English idioms come from? The first idioms appeared when native speakers enjoyed “playing with words” aiming to impress the interlocutor. Thus, they used expressions with double meaning. This has led to the fact that some expressions that were used only in the literal sense began to be used in the figurative sense. No doubt, this progress was also promoted by both historical and cultural situations in the country. So, that figurative meaning that the idiom carries should not in any case be taken literally as it is only a way of expressing person’s implicit intentions. What is more interesting, within even one country there may be different idioms for denoting one meaning. Also, an idiom can exist only in some certain district and be completely unknown in others.
Why Should I Learn These Senseless English Idioms?
There are no strict rules for using idioms in English language. People usually “decorate” their speech with idiomatic expressions to make the story more vivid and bright, to stand out from the crowd and emphasize their individuality. It often happens that idioms even help to save some tense situations, for the combination of words in the expression can be just ridiculous.
Mastering the most often used idioms will surely assist you in fitting in with the most troublesome situations whether it is a football game, hanging out with friends or just studying. Besides, you will enrich your vocabulary with hundreds of other word expressions and deepen your competence in grammar. Some idioms can only be applied to real communication and are not wide spread in written texts or other formal situations. Furthermore, despite the notion that the major part of idioms is used in all variants of English language and all English-speaking countries, there is a small number of idioms, which is inherent to a particular variant or country. That is why, when mastering the language itself, you should at least have a notion of the origin and peculiarities of usage of a particular idiomatic expression. A few most persuasive reasons are precisely presented here:
- It’s fun! Let’s admit it, some idioms are extremely merry and learning process of them is solely a pleasure for mouth and memory. Besides, behind each idiom with its senseless meaning there is a well-prepared explanation that will help you give a thought to the mentality of a nation;
- It shows your respect to the native speakers. Spill it out, you would also be very pleased if you saw a person trying to use idioms that make no sense to them in your language. Same goes to everyone. Sometimes it is the greatest compliment to them, to see that you speak “their” language and not like a news presenter from the evening news;
- You learn to read between the lines. Learning the idioms in a foreign language is basically the last and the most important barrier to understand the country from inside out. Not all nations are used to explicitly tell what they think. Some of them enjoy decoding the message to turn it into some game called “try to understand me”! Think of Germans, their news is full of idioms even in the official language! Or Japanese, who will never say “No” directly;
- They make the language brighter and add colors to the language. The idiomatic expressions in our case (as in English) can be used in various spheres of communication, starting from religion, sports, education and even historical terms that have been affected by past wars and battles;
- They help you to find out more idioms in your own language. When translating idioms from English into your own language, you should be very attentive as they are NOT translated literally. The only way to translate them is to find an analogy in your native language as it will sound completely different, though explain the same or almost the same meaning.
As you see, the necessity of such expressions with implicit explanations is hard to overestimate. They are secret gems and will always be pearls of the language of learning, no matter now or in the future and they tell the history of its nation. In the next article, we will explain the most interesting and widely heard and known idioms in the whole English-speaking world and aid you in applying them into the appropriate situation. Do not hesitate to ask us a help for your homework or essay!