The Study on English Idioms by Western Culture

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The language is a part of the culture and the carrier of the culture at the same time. The culture can not get away from the language. The language can not get away from the culture, either. It is impossible to study a foreign language text without considering the culture it embodied. Idiom is the essence and crystallization of a language and culture. It is the summary of life experiences of the people in a particular district. Usually, it is short but it can reflect the special features of a certain culture. Therefore, the accurate understanding of the English idiom does not only involve the phonetic conversion but also involve the western cultural conversion. It requires that the learner know the western culture background well. This thesis tries to analyze the English idioms from the aspects of western history, geography, religious, customs etc. in order to reveal the significance of prying into the western culture while learner study English idioms.

Key words: idiom; western culture; study

摘 要

关键词: 习语; 西方文化; 学习

1. The influence of history1
1.1 The influence of Roman Conquest2
1.2 The influence of Teutonic Conquest3
1.3 The influence of Scandinavians Conquest4
1.4 The influence of Normandy Conquest4
1.5 The influence of wars5
2. The influence of geographical conditions5
3. The influence of customs7
3.1The influence of diet7
3.2 The influence of pets8
3.3 The influence of person names8
4. The influence of religion9
5. The influence of fables and mythologies11
6. The influence of the literary works12
7. The influence of the sports activities and entertainment14

Idioms are culturally loaded. A good knowledge of idioms will pave the way for a practical application of idioms. However, in daily communication, we usually don’t know why “Hobson’s choice” means no choice at all, “keep up with the Joneses” means to run after the fashion. So it is surely of great necessity to touch on the western culture. This will not only help students to comprehend the figurative meanings of idioms, but also add to the strength and vividness of our language. Now let’s have a careful study. English idiom is a beautiful gem of language as well as the crystallization of the development of language. For English idiom are English cultural treasures, the valuable products that English people create, and also an essential part of the general vocabulary. English idiom may be defined as a group of words with a special meaning different from the meanings of its constituent words. Webster’s New Dictionary of the American Language, 2nd college edition gives a definition of idioms as “an accepted phrase, construction, or expression contrary to the usual patterns of the language or having a meaning different from the language or having a meaning different from the literal”. According to the latest Webster’s New World College Dictionary, 3rd Edition, “Idiom is a phrase, construction or expression that is recognized as a unit in the usage of a given language and either differs from the usual syntactic patterns or has a meaning that differs from the literal meaning of its parts taken together.” They are semantically opaque. They are usually metaphorical rather than literal. So the meaning of “to rain cats and dogs” doesn’t mean cats and dogs are caught in the rain. Instead, it means “to rain very heavily”. Besides, they are syntactically stable and semantically united. The words in idiomatic expressions cannot, as a rule, be deleted, added to, replaced by synonymous words, or put in a different order, without affecting the meaning. For...
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