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Different Culture Makes Diferent Idioms

In: English and Literature

Submitted By ahahasmile
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Different Culture Makes Different Idioms From so many years of English studying,it is not so difficult for us to point out that there exists great difference between Chinese and English idioms,which can be sourced back to the matter of different language and culture.Language is the most principle means for inter-cultural communication.For one thing,language is a part of culture and plays an important role in it.For another,as a mirror of culture, language is strongly influenced and shaped by culture;Meanwhile ,it reflects culture.Idioms,a part of language ,are the essence of culture in every country.Using language in such communication ,we often come across some idioms with distinctive cultural characteristics,so it is a very important and complicated thing for us to understand and use idioms correctly. Idioms include metaphorical phrase,slang,colloquialism,proverb and so on.As an essential part of the language and culture of a society,idioms are characterized by their concise expressions,rich and vivid ,involving geography,history,religious belief,living conventions and so on.They usually highly specialized in meaning and closely tied to distinctive cultural features and cultural attitudes.It is believed that idioms are the most culturally loaded element in any language’s vocabulary.Undoubtedly they are often hard to understand and harder to use correctly for a foreigner.English and Chinese idioms,closely related to their own culture,convey different cultural features and messages of their own nation,reflecting their own culture.There exists vast difference between English and Chinese culture and this difference occurs in English and Chinese idioms,too.From the following examples ,we are going to understand it more clearly. Owning to the geographical environment,Chinese and English idioms vary greatly.Britain is an island country.People who live along seacoast and whole live hood is dependent on the sea will have idioms about water,sailing,island and fish.For example,we speak in Chinese 挥金如土,but we should render it in English as “spend money like water”.It is easy to find lots of English idioms about fish, water and sail:“as close as an oyster(守口如瓶)”,“at air(茫然)”, “tower one’s sail(甘拜下风)”, “half sea over(酒喝得太多)”, “fish begins to stink at the head(上梁不正下梁歪)” , “never offer to teach fish to swim(不要班门弄斧)”, “to burn one’s boat(破釜沉舟)”, “a big fish in a little pond(山中无老虎,猴子称霸王)”,etc. On the other hand ,the Chinese people live on the land ,they belong to an agrarian society that places agricultural production at the top of the national agenda,regarding industry and commerce as the non-essentials.During the long history of farming,the Chinese language has accumulated large numbers of farms’s “瑞雪兆丰年”, “种瓜得瓜,种豆得豆”, “四体不勤,五谷不分” ,“瓜熟蒂落”。 Climate is also another factor need to be taken in consideration.While Britain is located in western hemisphere ,with North Temperate Zone and marine climate ,so “west wind” is the symbol of spring.The famous English poet Shirley’s “Ode to the West Wind” is a praising song of spring.Britain used to be known as a country of fog due to the dampness and warmness of the weather condition and partly to the air pollution.Therefore,in English there are some idiomatic expressions concerning fog,such as “in the fog”,and“to have not the foggist idea”.However,in China,east wind is the spring.There are many idioms in Chinese culture:春暖花开(in warm spring,,all the blossoms are in full bloom)春意盎然(spring is very much in the air),一年之计在于春(the whole year’s work consists in a good start in spring),万紫千红总是春(it is spring when the gayest colors abound).Spring has the image of all good things .So different living surroundings may produce different idioms and different culture. Taking about this topic,we can never forget the influence of historical allusion on idioms. With different historical background ,English and Chinese idioms contains great national color.So it is necessary for us to learn and understand the English allusion as well as the Chinese allusion.Many of our Chinese idioms are abounded to our historical events,such as “卧薪藏胆”,“沉鱼落雁之容,闭月羞花之貌”,“三个臭皮匠,顶个诸葛亮”。On the other hand ,England has a history of more than one thousand years and has much less historical events than China.So the English language has much less idioms from historical than the Chinese language.,but we can still find some,for example,“to meet one’s Waterloo” is from the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815,which means to be completely defeated.There need to be mentioned that Rome and Danmark once occupied England for a long time,so the conquest influenced the English to a certain extent :”six of one and half a dozen of the other”(半斤八两)comes from Danmark ,whereas “return to one’s muttons”(言归正传) and “do in roman as the romans do” (入乡随俗) are from France and Roman respectively. Apart from what has been discussed above,there are also a lot of factors ,such as religion and beliefs,different traditions and customs,which may lie in various idioms.In the course of foreign language learning ,we are supposed to master the language and the habitual pattern of thinking as we do in our native culture.We are encouraged to go further,to understand the cultural phenomenon of the foreign language better and also understand our native language better through contrast.As an English learner,it is useful and helpful to understand and learn about the cultural differences between English idioms and Chinese idioms.…...

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