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CONLANG  February 2004, Week 1

CONLANG February 2004, Week 1

Subject:

Re: Common World Idioms

From:

Steve Cooney <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Constructed Languages List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 5 Feb 2004 17:28:30 -0800

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

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--- Barbara Barrett <[log in to unmask]>
wrote:

> Barbara Babbles;
> Hmmm. As idiom is both culture and language related
> I'd be surprised if you
> find any that all the peoples of the world have in
> common; very surprised
> indeed.
>
> But I do so *like* being surprised ;-)

You forgot "Sending a fox to guard the chickens"? :)

Thank you for all your thoughts. Ive got a couple
questions: Tell me, in all your readings, how many of
these idioms did you find that *were perhaps
"universal"?

It strikes me that there are a great many, considering
a basic modification or two. The real task would be to
define the relevant symbols, and derive the most
resonant marker for these - so again, "getting caught"
a red hand, can reasonably be considered a very
ubiquitous marker for the concept of being "dug out of
hiding" or "revealed as true."  Similarly the "guilt"
idiom (but not "feeling guilty" ;) is universal, but
of exactly what comes in degrees -- this is the real
issue when we talk about localized terms, like "cookie
jar" and "bosses wife's underwear" and so forth.

I like your use of examples. Let's start an idiom
project -- why not? Perhaps we can use the Unilang
wiki for now: Oh why not (pause...)

I set up a starter project page,
http://www.unilang3.org/wiki2/wiki.phtml?title=I:Idioms_project

-Steven
symbolproject.org (Soon with extra hummus)

--- Barbara Barrett <[log in to unmask]>
wrote:
> >Steve Said;
> > Im curious about idioms, if anyone knows any good
> > links that look at the very common idioms, such
> that
> > most people in the world can understand them.
> >
> > By idioms, im generally thinking of ones used in
> > common speech, like "caught red-handed" or "take
> the
> > bait" etc.
>
> Barbara Babbles;
> Hmmm. As idiom is both culture and language related
> I'd be surprised if you
> find any that all the peoples of the world have in
> common; very surprised
> indeed.
>
> But I do so *like* being surprised ;-)
>
> Rahter than the idiom itself, you might find there
> are idioms that have the
> same meaning from different languages; EG;

> English: "Giving a monkey the key to the bannana
> plantation"
> Arabic: "Sending a lion to gaurd the goats"


> These have the same meaning, but are different
> idioms.
>
> I think what you are more likely to find is that
> there are common elements
> of of the human experience which many cultures have
> their own idiom for. But
> that's not the same thing as a common idiom is it?
>
> Have you considered that there are often several
> idioms with the same
> meaning?
> EG:
> Caught with his trousers down.
> Caught with his nuts in the fire.
> Caught in the act.
> etc etc.
>
> Which in most english speaking locáls are
> understood. but not always. For
> example; In Ulster the term "Red Handed" means
> "protestant" so "caught red
> handed" could mean several things from a Protestant
> found out pretending to
> be Catholic, or a self professed moderate loyalist
> caught out expousing hard
> line loyalist views. Nowadays of course with
> exposure to national and
> international TV/fims etc the idiom would be
> understood in its intended
> meaning if spoken by a non-ulsterfolk, but if an
> ulsterperson used it, it
> would cause confusion. Likewise how whould you
> interpret the ulster idiom of
> someone being "very black"? and who or what is a
> "black bastard"?
>
> Well, "very black" means fundamentalist protestant -
> from a hard line lodge
> of the Orange Order who wear black sashs at their
> meetings and on their
> marches, and a "Black Bastard" is a policeman to
> whom you've taken a dislike
> for one reason or another - from the time when the
> police force in ulster
> wore black uniforms (current uniforms are dark
> green, and have been sine the
> 1940s, but the idiom persists). No way could either
> of these be universal!
>
> In my time I've had several books of translations of
> Proverbs; Arab
> Proverbs, Irish Proverbs, French Proverbs, Japanese
> Proverbs, Native
> american Proverbs; etc etc ("Proverb" seems to be
> the popular usage term for
> "idiom" these days) and I've frequently been amazed
> at how many idioms from
> very differnent languages and cultrues have the same
> meanings even although
> the idioms themselves have been very different. One
> the other hand I've also
> been delighted to discover idioms unique to the
> cultures that produced them
> yet nevertheless illustrate a human condition that
> all cultures share but no
> one else has a Proverb for!
>
> perhaps you should begin your quest with books on
> local Proverbs, or speific
> Googles, eg; "Proverbs, Indian" etc.
>
> Barbara







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