Idioms are by all means the crystallization of a language due to its long history and also, they telling demonstration of wisdom of a nation.Chinese and English idioms have their different cultural traits.This paper compares Chinese and English idioms of animals ,discusses the influence of cultural differences on Chinese and English idioms and gives some specific approaches to the understanding of Chinese and English idioms of animals.
ï¼»Keywordsï¼½: cultural differences; similarities and differences; English contrast;idioms of Animals;
1. The concept of idioms of Animals and the reasons for studying the idioms of Animal
The English world is just like a Kaleidoscope,also we can treat it as a Labyrinth.Animals and human beingshave been friends since old times. Languages of all kinds of nations own lots of words related to animals and so do Chinese and English. In the development of our society, animal words gradually get their stable meanings in all kinds of languages, namely, people associate their feelings and emotions, even thoughts and natural phenomena with different kinds of animals which are treated to represent different characters like people, or serve as omens. So animals gradually have become a certain kind of symbol in our thoughts, then this symbol rooted in the language at last. So in this world,there is a branch which can not be ignored-the english idiom whose function is indispensable.In this essay,it will focus on one branch of the English idiom,the idiom of animals,because when people use this kind of idiom,sometimes they will feel confused of this kind of idiom,for the reason of the different culture background and emotion towards different animals, people from west and east usually holds different view towards the same animals,but they can also reach agreement sometimes (éƒç¦æ•1999) .In the body part, Section 1 shows the different view towards the same animals. Section 2 talks about the same view towards the same animals. Section 3 states theÂ influencesÂ ofÂ CulturalÂ factorÂ onÂ idioms of animals.From the dictionary,the difinition of idiom is they are by all means the crystallization of a language due to its long history and also, they telling demonstration of wisdom of a nation. Without idioms, especially the idioms of animals.The language can became very dull and we can not express some feelings as vivid as right now. If we use a metaphor way to express,then it is just like the filtered water came from the purer water, the filtered product of a language---idioms, are of high quality. In terms of similarity, the essay will deal with from the originating from folk life, originating from daily life and originating from custom background.The differences will be foucused on reflecting different geography, reflecting different value concepts and reflecting different religions.
2. The cultural connotation towards the animals in the English culture and Chinese culture
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The western history begins when the ancestors find and fight for their natural habitat by sailing in the sea, the western people have a complicated mixture of marine culture. During those tough timeof the struggle against with the sea, the western people formed a strong sense of controlness and invasion by force to enlarge their territory. Based on this thoughts, the western culture is marked by the westerners' appreciation for competition and enterprise. These differences leads to so many cultural differences. For example,the geographic location, individual values, social awareness, the way of communication and expression.All these thoughts have formed the culture background which effects the idioms of animals.
2.1. An animal word has the same cultural connotation in English and Chinese
In both English and Chinese ,the same animal words contain the same or similar cultural connotation . All humanbeings are lives on the same planet. People have similar living atmosphere, cognitive ability and psychology;In both Chinese and English, people almost have the same information towards animals. Therefore, they have the same or similar realization and give the same cultural connotation to animal words. People sometimes also hold same views towards the same animals in both English and Chinese, Based on this emotion concept.then the influences have taken effects on the same animals.The intension of idioms of animals can connected with los of background informattion.However,the cultural reasons are difinitely ranks on the top of the list.Based on the aspect of folk life and the aspect of stereotype of thoughts.,the study of the same view towards the idioms of the same animals will analyze it.
2.1.1 Disscution from the aspect of the intimacy with the humanbeings
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In this world ,maybe the dog is the most loyal animal which people from both east and west would love it.But even dog is a favorite animal for most people, we still can find out that the emotion towards dog is a little different.From some popular American folk song,we can find how deep the emotion of the Americans towards the dog,people from the west often treat the dog as one of their family members.in the west,the common name of dog is Fido which extended from the latin word-fides which means faithful ( Bakerï¼ŒMona. 1992).Also lots of people of west name their dogs after their beloved family member,for instance,the ex-president of America,Bill Clinton name his dog after his uncle.So the idioms related to the dogs cames out,just as the top dog means the winner,the big dog means Mr.Big etc.But in the east,the idioms of dogs often have derogatory sense.
Disscution from the aspect of religion influence
People who learn English might know an idiom of elephant-the white elephant,which means an inanimate possession that is similarly unwanted and hard to get rid of,but too costly simply to throw out or abandon.Another idiom of elephant in english is as thick skinned as an elephant,which means stubborn and Obtuse.however,in the eastern country,the elephant is a symbol of strength and power,in some Buddhist countries,the elephant is also a holy symbol of their religion.
2.1.3 Disscution from the aspect of folk life
Both the east and the west treat the pig as a symbol of idleness and stupid.The idioms of pig in the west and the east are all related to the bad side.For instance,Never cast ye your pearls before swine ( Christine Ammer,2005) ,this idiom means to waste precious words or deeds on the underserving.Another example is you can't make a silk purse from a sow's ear,this means you can't turn an underserving creature or thing into one of great worth.
Disscution from the aspect of stereotype of thoughts
Both the Chinese and English think that the fox stands for cunning, so when English people say "He is a fox", the Chinese people can easily catch the meaning of the sentence at the same atmosphere. To the English speaker and Chinese people, the first impression of pig is fat. It also represent laziness and stupidity. The"wolf" is one kind of fierce wild animal in the forest. So its natural instincts are avariciousness and fierceness rooted in people's minds. So we often hear some of the same expressions in English and in Chinese, such as "a wolf in a sheep's clothing" or "cry wolf". In addition, when "wolf" is used to refer to a person, it means "a man who always ready to make unsual advances to a woman". Therefore, in English, there is an idiom "a wolf whistle" ( Christine Ammer,2005).
2.2. An animal word has different cultural connotations in English and Chinese
It can be seen that the cultural connotations of animal words in different languages in a subject to be further probe and the contrust and analysis of cultural connotations of animal words between English and Chinese. It is clear to get the conclusion that animal words is not only reflects the real animal but also get special cultural connotations of different cultures ( Bakerï¼ŒMona. 1992) .Gnerally speaking, if people want to get a good knowledge of animal words, they must try their best to grasp the connotations of these words especially the cultural connotations, so they should have a comprehensive knowledge in order to understand the cultural differences in this task. People can be deeply acquaint with the cultural convention and living customs, then they can communicate with English speaking people naturally and easily. These idioms are given the same cultural meaning from their features, so in both English and Chinese,they can understand each other directly and easily no matter in cross-cultural communication or not. Meanwhile, with more and more communication, lots of new words come into both languages. We can find some idioms of animals with even the same images and the same intonations.
2.2.1 Disscution from the aspect of usage in daily life
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At first,doney is called ass which refer to the stupid and stubborn things and person.In the Aesop's Fables,there is an ass in a lion's skin,the other animals thought the lion is coming,and run away quickly.the donkey felt proud,but a fox know it's not a lion ,but a donkey,so the fox mocked the donkey (Nida,1975).In English,an ass in a lion's skin means to act/play the ass or to make an ass of onself.In the western culture,donkey is a symbol of foolishment,the ass wags his ears means the fool pretend smart.However,in the culture of east,people thought donkey is industrious,what's more,people don't need to look after them too much.
2.2.2 Disscution from the aspect of value concepts
There is a paragraph taken from the Bible,the main ideal is when people come to this world,the God will choose the good from the bad.From this,we can get to know that the goat refers to the bad,from the time of the Bible,people realized that the value of sheep is more than the goat ,so in English,the goat means the bad people or the Satyr.let us look at the idiom of goat,for example,If beards were all,then goats would preach.This means old age does not necessarily betoken wisdom.In the east,people thought the goat is good,they take the advantages of the goat's meat and skin, the goat has lots of usage ( Smith,1957).
2.2.3. Disscution from the aspect of custom background
This is another good example of this essay,in the east,people think the bull is brave and industrious.Take the chinese people for instance,from the old times,people begin to use the bull to plow the fields.nowadays,the bull is still being used in the countryside,so the chinese usually use the bull to describe the industious people who work very hard and practical.what's more,they also use the bull to describe the peole who seems very strong and healthy.In the west,people raise the bull in order to get the milk and meat,they did not use the bull in the agriculture too often.So in the west,the bull is refer to the fool,the people who are rude (Nida,1975).For example,the bullhead means the stubborn.Irish bull means ridiculous way of saying.
2.2.4. Disscution from the aspect of geography influences
From the day that can be recorded,horse is served to the human beings.No matter in the day of peace or the time of war,horse plays a very important role in every fields.Horse is an industrious animal.In the English, there are lots of idioms about horse, and the complimentary sense is basically the same.When it does not want to do something,then even you force him to do something,it still not works.In the east,people has the same way of saying. Among all the animals the horse may be the most sensible creature. She seems to understand men better than men understand them. If you are a careful observer,then you can find out that horse is always looking at its master. Knowing whatever feeling her master has. Apart from the horse's sensitivity it always works without complaining. This is one of the reasons why Americans like to encourage other people to work as hard as a horse. It reminds us of the saying that we cannot force other people to do what we wish them to do without their content, of course. Without these expressions we can hardly find any means to let others know how we feel and what we think( Christine Ammer ,2005).
2.2.5 Disscution from the aspect of value concepts
Fly is just like a mote in people's eyes,they are noisy and dirty.So people use the fly in the ointmeny to express a trifling annoyance that spoils one's enjoyment.In the eyes of peole,they just treat the fly as some pests,so a fly on the wall means an unseen witness to a private situation,etc (Christine Ammer,2005).
3.TheÂ influencesÂ ofÂ CulturalÂ factorÂ onÂ idioms of animals
They reflect the relationship between language and culture. Human beings' common social activities are in many aspects similar, so English and Chinese idioms of animals have similarities. Because of the cultural differences, English and Chinese idioms have differences in their detailed contents.Now the essay will list two main cultural impacts on the idioms of animals (æ¦ä¸-èŠ±,2003) .
3.1 Similarities between English and Chinese idioms
In both the English and Chinese,the idioms of animals are descriptive when they are aim to convey the right meanings. A western scholar once said that between two languages, chances are against it that there is a equivalence of phrases and sentences, only a few exceptions. Idioms are just one of those reasons to this are that human beings live on the same environment, confined to the same objective restrictions.From these aspect, it can be concluded that there is a common union of the sameness of the thoughts and emotions in human being of defferent parts in the whole world.
3.1.1 Originating from daily life
Idioms are the common reflection of people's daily life and experience, what's more,they are closely related to the practice of people's daily life and work, revealing a universal truth from details so as to enlighten people. There are many idioms refined from the folk life. These idioms are created by working people, for instance,the farmers, workmen, businessmen,hunters, Soldiers and so on. They use familiar terms that were connected with their own life experience.
3.2 Differences between English and Chinese idioms
Language is a medium of the culture in each nation. Generally speaking, the differences between English and Chinese idioms are the result of different cultural reasons. The Chinese Culture stress on the part of argriculture which has cultivated from generation to generation and is what our basic condition of life is attached to. Growing up in this land-foucused notion, the chinese people have long been dedicated to their homeland, they are able to feed themselves by raise the argriculture , in result, they thought of expansion and invasion of other nations is never of their concern.
3.2.1 Reflecting different geography
Geographic Position. Lots of idioms of animals share the features of its surrounding environment. Nation's geographical environment is a pattern that a language and culture have been developing. The geographical characteristics of the country are reflected in the national language in general and idioms in particular. The England is an island country which located in the western seaside of Europe. English people live by seaside and their life naturally connected with the industry of sailing and fishing. So many English idioms of animals are related to the creature in the sea.
3.2.2 Reflecting different value concepts
The differences between Chinese and western value concepts mainly lie in the individualism and collective.The Westerners believe that everyone share the equal rights. They adore to the freedom and equality. Many English idioms of animals show American's advocating of this aspect.Idioms are the essence of a language. They are closely related to a nation's culture and enjoy great cultural values. They reflect the relation between culture and language. Each nation has its own geography, history, religion and social attitude. Because of the cultural generalities and differences (æŽå½©æŒ, å¼ åŽæ˜Ž,2002),English and Chinese Idioms have their similarities and differences. They are permeating and interfusing each other. So a comparative study of them can help us to learn a language well and understand the true meaning of other's word in cross-culture communication.
3.2.3 Reflecting different religions
Religion is a very important theme of culture. Different religions reflect different cultural thoughts, different cultural backgrounds and different cultural customs. Religion is a cultural phenomenon. Sometimes,the idioms of animals are closely related to theaspect of culture, just like the example of white elephant list above.So idioms can reflect the different religious background information. English and Chinese people share different religious faith. Different religions lead to the differences between English and Chinese idioms of animals.
4. The value of study on idioms of Animals in both Chinese culture and English culture
The similarities and disfference between English and Chinese idioms lies deeply in the cultural background.
4.1. The importance of studying idioms of Animals
Learning a foreign language,especially the idioms of animals is a long way and we need to pay a lot of attention and efforts ,what we should know is that we cannot and should not learn a foreign language in a very short time, so does the idioms of animalslearning. The learning and using idiomatic appropriate is very difficult for non-native speakers, especially when we learn the idioms of animals,after we have a clear view of the culture background information of these idioms,we can have a better understanding of this area,and for this reason we need to learn it gradually , only in this way,we can handle them easily and effiently.
4.2. Consideration of the eassy
This article should be an enlightment to all of us that when welearning English idioms of animals, we are supposed to grasp the cultural background in mind in order to acquire better learning. What's more, the study of both English and Chinese idioms shed lights for our studying of the thinking patteren of both languages, which is of central essence for our learning purpose. Moreover,the analysis of origins causing different idiomatic expressions and cultural differences in this article can provide a way for us to understand idioms correctly and use them in cross-cultural communication precisely and accurately.