quarta-feira, 2 de setembro de 2009

Idioms in the US and the UK

I had this discussion in one of my classes. My students were wondering whether there would be a great difference between the American idioms they learn and the ones used in the UK. I told them the obvious. Some would be common to both countries and some would be not. I found this website that has a very interesting list of English and American idioms. Check it out and comment on your findings. Some of them are pretty funny. Good for teachers and students.

3 comentários:

  1. Very interesting observation about idioms, Luiz.

    I think you told your students exactly the right thing. The same could be said regarding Portuguese idioms, of course—not only in Brasil and Portugal, but in other Portuguese-speaking locations.

    Did you know that I have an idioms site online? It first went online sometime in the mid-1990s and is still available. What's accessible now has no content changes from the original version, but it's been re-formatted. Maybe one of these days I'll get around to updating it.

    (Click HERE to go to the site.)

    P.S. How I came to select the idioms that are in the collection is a somewhat interesting story. I'll tell you about it, if you like, another time.

    Dennis in Phoenix

  2. Dennis,
    Now you've just made curious about your selection of the idioms. Please share at your convenience. By the way, I have already searched your site before. I remember using it for class material. Who would ever think that I would meet the author one day?
    Keep your post coming. I really like them.

  3. Luiz!

    I think it was in 1995 that Dave Sperling, the creator and owner of "Dave's ESL Cafe," sent out a message asking for people to help him build his new website. I was one of the few to volunteer to help—in fact, I may have been the only one!

    Dave sensed that the job information and the interactive and/or participative elements of his "Cafe" (the chatroom, the discussion forums) would probably be its biggest "draws," but he also wanted to provide content. Accordingly, we had discussions about what he might include, and he eventually decided to add a Help Center (in which students asked questions about English), quizzes and sections devoted to slang, idioms, and phrasal verbs. A little later, he added a "Tip of the Day" (daily mini-lessons). I was directly involved in all of these except the section on slang.

    For both the idiom and phrasal verb sections, I knew that the easiest thing to do would be to extract lists from from reference works (for example, specialized dictionaries), but I didn't want my work or Dave's Cafe to be accused of stealing or plagiarism, so what I did for both the idiom and phrasal verb sections was this: I simply went through the alphabet in my head and wrote down idioms and phrasal verbs that immediately came to mind, then wrote glosses and sometimes other explanatory information about each item. For example, I might think of A, which led me to ace, 3 entries for all right, and then some, antsy, as easy as pie, and at the eleventh hour. I compiled the materials pretty quickly, so they're by no means exhaustive in scope; there are actually many more items that could have been included. If I ever get around to doing an update, I might include many more items—for example, abs, maybe AC-DC, an aha moment, alkie, an apple-polisher, apps, and maybe ass-backwards (and back-asswards) among the "A" idioms.

    Not long after the collection went online (in the early to mid-1990s), I was contacted by a university professor who wanted to know what my "selection criteria" had been. When I told him I included items that popped into my head when I mentally went through the alphabet, he was shocked—even after I explained why I did that.

    The idioms at "the Cafe" have been pirated (illegally copied) numerous times, by the way even though they're clearly copyrighted. At first, Dave and I tried to do something about that, but many of the sites with pirated materials are located in countries where copyright, particularly for online materials, is ignored.

    So there you have the story.


    Re "Who would ever think that I would meet the author one day?," I can only say that the connections we can make through the Net are amazing. Another connection: I'm writing to you today because Carlinha and I became friends as well as colleagues when we were both enrolled in an online class. (See THIS.)

    All the best—