Idiom dictionary

Last updated
A page from Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable contains many idioms such as "keep your hair on!". Brewers p518 keep.pdf
A page from Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable contains many idioms such as "keep your hair on!".

An idiom dictionary is a dictionary or phrase book that lists and explains idioms  – distinctive words or phrases having a figurative meaning that goes beyond the original semantics of the word(s). For example, the phrase "keep your breath to cool your porridge" is more likely to be a rebuke to mind your own business than literal advice at breakfast.

Contents

Idioms

An idiom is a phrase whose meaning could not be readily deduced from the meaning of its individual words. The word comes from the Greek ἰδίωμα (idioma) – the distinctive style of a particular person. The traditional example is "kick the bucket" which is normally understood to mean dying. The extent to which a phrase is thought idiomatic is a matter of degree and native speakers of English consider a phrase like "pop the question" (proposing marriage) to be less idiomatic than "kick the bucket". [1]

Dictionary

An idiom dictionary may be a traditional book or expressed in another medium such as a database within software for machine translation. Examples of the genre include Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable , which explains traditional allusions and proverbs, and Fowler's Modern English Usage , which was conceived as an idiom dictionary following the completion of the Concise Oxford English Dictionary , which itself contained many idioms. [2]

Some multilingual dictionaries of idioms are available on-line. One of them is Babelite which is freely accessible.

The main readership and market for idiom dictionaries are deaf people and learners of English as a foreign language (EFL). [3] The first major dictionary of idioms in American English was A Dictionary of Idioms for the Deaf; published in 1966 by the American School for the Deaf. [3] Subsequent editions were published under the more general title of A Dictionary of American Idioms.

Structure

Idioms may vary considerably in their presentation. The keywords may vary – "green fingers" or a "green thumb". The grammar may vary – "turn the tables" or "the tables are turned". A phrase may even be recast completely, just following a pattern – "a few gallons shy of a full tank" or "one sandwich short of a picnic". [4] This variation makes organisation of an idiom dictionary difficult. The idioms may be organised in simple alphabetical order, as in The Oxford Dictionary of Current Idiomatic English. They may be grouped by keyword, as in the Longman Dictionary of English Idioms. Or they may be grouped by domain so that, for example, all idioms based upon nautical expressions such as "show him the ropes" and "three sheets to the wind" are put together. [5]

Bilingual dictionaries

Bilingual dictionaries have an additional problem when dealing with idioms – as well as explaining the idiom, they also have to translate it. In doing so, they will commonly provide both a literal translation and a free translation. For example, the phrase "can be counted on the fingers of one hand", meaning few in number, may translated literally into Chinese as qu zhe ke shu and, more sensibly, as liao liao wu ji (only a handful). [6]

See also

Notes

Related Research Articles

Dictionary Collection of words and their meanings

A dictionary is a listing of lexemes from the lexicon of one or more specific languages, often arranged alphabetically, which may include information on definitions, usage, etymologies, pronunciations, translation, etc.. It is a lexicographical reference that shows inter-relationships among the data.

Lexicography is divided into two separate but equally important groups:

Lexicology is the part of linguistics that studies words. This may include their nature and function as symbols, their meaning, the relationship of their meaning to epistemology in general, and the rules of their composition from smaller elements . Lexicology also involves relations between words, which may involve semantics, derivation, use and sociolinguistic distinctions, and any other issues involved in analyzing the whole lexicon of a language.

Thesaurus Reference work that lists words grouped by similarity of meaning

A thesaurus or synonym dictionary is a reference work for finding synonyms and sometimes antonyms of words. They are often used by writers to help find the best word to express an idea:

...to find the word, or words, by which [an] idea may be most fitly and aptly expressed

Idiom Combination of words that has a figurative meaning

An idiom is a phrase or expression that typically presents a figurative, non-literal meaning attached to the phrase; but some phrases become figurative idioms while retaining the literal meaning of the phrase. Categorized as formulaic language, an idiom's figurative meaning is different from the literal meaning. Idioms occur frequently in all languages; in English alone there are an estimated twenty-five thousand idiomatic expressions.

In cognitive linguistics, conceptual metaphor, or cognitive metaphor, refers to the understanding of one idea, or conceptual domain, in terms of another. An example of this is the understanding of quantity in terms of directionality or the understanding of time in terms of money.

Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. Someone who engages in this study is called a linguist. See also the Outline of linguistics, the List of phonetics topics, the List of linguists, and the List of cognitive science topics. Articles related to linguistics include:

In linguistics, a calque or loan translation is a word or phrase borrowed from another language by literal word-for-word or root-for-root translation. When used as a verb, "to calque" means to borrow a word or phrase from another language while translating its components, so as to create a new lexeme in the target language.

Collocation Frequent occurrence of words next to each other

In corpus linguistics, a collocation is a series of words or terms that co-occur more often than would be expected by chance. In phraseology, collocation is a sub-type of phraseme. An example of a phraseological collocation, as propounded by Michael Halliday, is the expression strong tea. While the same meaning could be conveyed by the roughly equivalent powerful tea, this expression is considered excessive and awkward by English speakers. Conversely, a corresponding expression in technology, powerful computer, is preferred over strong computer. Phraseological collocations should not be confused with idioms, where an idiom's meaning is derived from its convention as a stand-in for something else while collocation is a mere popular composition.

RAS syndrome Using an acronym followed by one of the words composing that acronym

RAS syndrome is the use of one or more of the words that make up an acronym in conjunction with the abbreviated form. This means, in effect, repeating one or more words from the acronym. Three common examples are "PIN number" / "VIN number" and "ATM machine". The term RAS syndrome was coined in 2001 in a light-hearted column in New Scientist.

A specialized dictionary is a dictionary that covers a relatively restricted set of phenomena. The definitive book on the subject includes chapters on some of the dictionaries included below:

Construction grammar is a family of theories within the field of cognitive linguistics which posit that constructions, or learned pairings of linguistic patterns with meanings, are the fundamental building blocks of human language. Constructions include words, morphemes, fixed expressions and idioms, and abstract grammatical rules such as the passive voice or the ditransitive. Any linguistic pattern is considered to be a construction as long as some aspect of its form or its meaning cannot be predicted from its component parts, or from other constructions that are recognized to exist. In construction grammar, every utterance is understood to be a combination of multiple different constructions, which together specify its precise meaning and form.

Bilingual dictionary Specialized dictionary used to translate words or phrases from one language to another

A bilingual dictionary or translation dictionary is a specialized dictionary used to translate words or phrases from one language to another. Bilingual dictionaries can be unidirectional, meaning that they list the meanings of words of one language in another, or can be bidirectional, allowing translation to and from both languages. Bidirectional bilingual dictionaries usually consist of two sections, each listing words and phrases of one language alphabetically along with their translation. In addition to the translation, a bilingual dictionary usually indicates the part of speech, gender, verb type, declension model and other grammatical clues to help a non-native speaker use the word. Other features sometimes present in bilingual dictionaries are lists of phrases, usage and style guides, verb tables, maps and grammar references. In contrast to the bilingual dictionary, a monolingual dictionary defines words and phrases instead of translating them.

Transcription into Chinese characters The use of Chinese characters to transcribe phonetically the sound of terms and names foreign to the Chinese language

Transcription into Chinese characters is the use of traditional or simplified Chinese characters to phonetically transcribe the sound of terms and names of foreign words to the Chinese language. Transcription is distinct from translation into Chinese whereby the meaning of a foreign word is communicated in Chinese. Since, in mainland China and often in Taiwan, Hanyu Pinyin is now used to transcribe Chinese into a modified Latin alphabet and since English classes are now standard in most secondary schools, it is increasingly common to see foreign names and terms left in their original form in Chinese texts. However, for mass media and marketing within China and for non-European languages, particularly those of the Chinese minorities, transcription into characters remains very common.

Statistical machine translation (SMT) is a machine translation paradigm where translations are generated on the basis of statistical models whose parameters are derived from the analysis of bilingual text corpora. The statistical approach contrasts with the rule-based approaches to machine translation as well as with example-based machine translation.

A phraseme, also called a set phrase, idiomatic phrase, multi-word expression, or idiom, is a multi-word or multi-morphemic utterance where at least one of whose components is selectionally constrained or restricted by linguistic convention such that it is not freely chosen. In the most extreme cases, there are expressions such as X kicks the bucket ≈ ‘person X dies of natural causes, the speaker being flippant about X’s demise’ where the unit is selected as a whole to express a meaning that bears little or no relation to the meanings of its parts. All of the words in this expression are chosen restrictedly, as part of a chunk. At the other extreme, there are collocations such as stark naked, hearty laugh, or infinite patience where one of the words is chosen freely based on the meaning the speaker wishes to express while the choice of the other (intensifying) word is constrained by the conventions of the English language. Both kinds of expression are phrasemes, and can be contrasted with ’’free phrases’’, expressions where all of the members are chosen freely, based exclusively on their meaning and the message that the speaker wishes to communicate.

English-language idioms Wikipedia list article

An idiom is a common word or phrase with a culturally understood meaning that differs from what its composite words' denotations would suggest; i.e. the words together have a meaning that is different from the dictionary definitions of the individual words. By another definition, an idiom is a speech form or an expression of a given language that is peculiar to itself grammatically or cannot be understood from the individual meanings of its elements. For example, an English speaker would understand the phrase "kick the bucket" to mean "to die" – and also to actually kick a bucket. Furthermore, they would understand when each meaning is being used in context.

Linguistics is the scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them.

Sketch Engine

Sketch Engine is a corpus manager and text analysis software developed by Lexical Computing Limited since 2003. Its purpose is to enable people studying language behaviour to search large text collections according to complex and linguistically motivated queries. Sketch Engine gained its name after one of the key features, word sketches: one-page, automatic, corpus-derived summaries of a word's grammatical and collocational behaviour. Currently, it supports and provides corpora in 90+ languages.

Covariational Conditional refers to the most commonly used "the X'er, the Y'er" structure in English, for example:

References