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idioms and cultural differences

已有 1973 次阅读 2021-8-15 20:26 |系统分类:教学心得

 The customer dissimilarities also reveal in the color. it is not hard to know that white represents holy and pure in western countries. because the angles and the God all wear white cloth. Thus white are often used in idioms to describe the fine thing.like"days marked with a white stone" which means a happy life."a white lie" means a kind-hearted lie."great white hope"means someone who is expected to be a great success. however, in Chinese language, white always symbolize the unlucky and sorrowful. The typical example is that in the funeral white appears everywhere.

According to the Oxford Advanced Learner's English-Chinese Dictionary, idiom means a group of words whose meaning is different from the meanings of the individual words. According to Longman Dictionary of English Idioms (Longman Group itd.1979). strickly speaking, idioms are expressions that are not readily understandable from their literal meanings of the individual elements. It includes set phrases, proverbs, sayings and maxims. Every nation has its own idioms, and idioms are the crystallization that a nation undergoes a lot and finally accumulated. it has a strong nation color and distinctive cultural connotation. Thus unique meanings of language come into being.

 Natural environment is the basic foundation for human being's survival and development, different natural environment cultivate the different nation cultures. To some extend, China is an landlocked agricultural country since ancient time, the earth is the most important to people, so there are a great deal of idioms describe the lakes, rivers, mountains, seasons and agricultures such as:

五谷丰登: a bumper grain harvest

斩草除根:cut the weeds and dig up the roots

种瓜得瓜,种豆得豆: as you sow, so you must reap

上无片瓦,下无寸土: as poor as a church mouse

人不亏地,地不亏人:the master's footsteps fatten the soil

瓜熟蒂落:Things will be easily settled when conditions are ripe

瑞雪兆丰年: a timely snow promises a good harvest

 Britain is an seagirt island country with dense rivers and long coastlines, such natural environment give the britain quite rich fish resources and ocean resources. Therefore, a lot of idioms in English are about sailing and fishing. For instance,

 as close as an oyster (守口如瓶)

like a fish out of water which means feel uncomfortable in the unfamiliar environment 

drink like a fish (豪饮)

to mish the boat (错失良机)

tower one's sail(甘拜下风)

to trim one's sail to the wind (见风使舵)

never offer to teach fish to swim(不要班门弄斧) 

Every nation has its own religious belief and religious culture, it makes a big differences on the formaiton of people's views of value and life styles. China had been living in Buddhism and Taoism for thousands of years, so there are many idioms about Buddhism and Taosim. For some examples,

五体投地 to throw oneself down at somebody's feet in admiration

临时抱佛脚 make effort at the last moment

放下屠刀立地成佛 a butcher becomes a Buddha the moment he drops his cleaver. A wrongdoer achieves salvation as soon as he gives up evil

and so on. these are words derived from the activities of Buddhism in China.

In some western countries like Britain, Christianity is the most powerful ruler. God is incomparable in western people's mind, he is considered to be the strongest man in the world. there are many idioms related to the God such as "God helps those who help themselves" 天助自助者

“man proposes, God disposes”(谋事在人成事在天?)

People often say“God damn you" when cursing a man. And "Thank God" or "God bless you" are always be used after dangers and troubles have been over come. It is just like this, God is the most powerful strength in westwern countries. However, in China, heaven represents the supreme ruler of the world. For examples:

谋事在人成事在天:Man proposes, heaven disposes;

民以食为天:Food is the necessity of the people;

天道为公:Heaven will not tolerate injustice. 


Custom difference is an important aspect of culture dissimilarities between Britain and China. Take the animal's position in each family of these two countries for example, the typical is dig. Dog is a kind of humble animal in Chinese people's mind(traditional Chinese) which could be seen from the idioms related to dogs. For example:

狗急跳墙: even a worm will turn

狗嘴里吐不出象牙: A dog's mouth emits no ivory

狐朋狗友: A pack of rogues

狗腿子: Hired thug

狗眼看人低: be damned snobbish

and so on.  top dog (重要的人)

However dogs are regard as a member of the family who is the most faithful friend of people. it could be proved through the English idioms such as lucky dog;

love me, love my dog (爱屋及乌)

Every dog has his day.

However, the dog to western people is what cat to CHinese people. So such kind of idioms come up like:

a cat has nine lives(吉人自有天相)

To the contrary, cats often represent the cicious woman like: Cats hide their claws (知人知面不知心)




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