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Accroding to the authors such as Hopper; Knapp and Scott (1981), idioms can convey positive, neutral or negative meanings. Some idioms have positive meaning like look the picture of health (look extremely healthy). As for idioms conveying negative meaning

Accroding to the authors such as Hopper; Knapp and Scott (1981), idioms can convey positive, neutral or negative meanings. Some idioms have positive meaning like look the picture of health (look extremely healthy). As for idioms conveying negative meaning

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four distinct groups:

 Idioms with a focus on individual ( run in the family)

 Idioms with a focus on the world ( right as rain)

 Idioms that refer to the interaction of individuals (nurse someone back to health)

 Idioms which express the interaction between an individual and the world

(living on borrowed time )

However, it is impossible to cover all criteria for classification of idioms.

Due to the framework of the thesis, the classification in terms of syntactic and

semantic classification of idioms is the most suitable.

2.3.4 Idioms and other language units

2.3.4.1 Idioms and proverbs

Proverbs are considered as “memorable short sayings of the people,

containing wise words of advice or warning” by Flavell (1994). Also, the Oxford

advanced learner’s dictionary (1994) defined a proverb as “a well-known phrase or

sentence that gives advice or says something that generally true”.

It is necessary to distinguish idioms and proverbs although it is not an easy

task because of their same short sentence nature and the usage in expressions.

Basically, proverbs and idioms have something in common such as both of them are

ready-made linguistic units. The use of fixed expression is abused in these two

types of language units so they tend to become cliches. The national characteristics

are often expressed in both proverbs and idioms. For example, to talk about the

slowness, English people use the image of the snail in the idiom as slow as a snail

while Vietnamese people use the image of the tortoise in the idiom chậm như rùa.

With reference to proveb, the national characteristics and be recognized in some

proverbs such as Đàn ông chớ kể Phan Trần, đàn bà chớ kể Thúy Vân, Thúy Kiều in

Vietnamese or Every Jack has a Jill in English. It is easy to see from above

examples, such proper names as Phan Trần, Thúy Vân, Thúy Kiều in the former and

Jack and Jill in the latter are a part of culture of naming in acommunity.

In addition, idioms and proverbs are fairly common in some other ways. The

lexical items are permanent, moreover their meanings are conventional and largely

metaphorical. In contrast to free expression in which the member words may differ

according to the needs of conversation, the lexical components in proverbs and

idioms are consistently presented as single unchangcable collocations or cannot be

substituted by others. As the above idiom Một quả cà bằng ba thang thuốc, the

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number một is fixed and unchangcable. An example of proverb is out of sight out of

mind. The collocations of the phrases in this proverb are not permutable or

changeable. The proverb will not make sense if it is modified as out of sight, out of

mind. Due to the permanence of member words in idioms and proverbs, therefore, it

is out of the question to make any changes in them, even when it is merely an

inconsiderable change.

One more similarity is that the meanings of idioms and proverbs are

understood figuratively other than literally. Moreover, in many cases, idioms are

formed from the basics of proverbs. For example, rooten apple (one bad person who

has a bad effect on others in a group) is the basics to form the proverb the rooten

apple injures its neighbors (con sâu làm rầu nồi canh), or the case of the idioms put

all your eggs in one basket or the idioms có vay có trả originates from the proverb

có vay có trả mới thỏa lòng nhau.

Besides the similarities, both idioms and proverbs have their own typical

features that distinguish one from another. The first and most obvious difference

lies in their syntactic structures. In term of syntactic structures, idioms are phrases

which are parts of sentences, thus they are equivalent to words. In contrast, proverbs

are mostly the complete sentences or phrases which can express the whole idea by

themselves. What is more, idioms and proverbs are also different in terms of their

functions. Proverbs are short well-known sentences or phrases that express a

judgment, general truth about life, advice or moral lesson. They contain three main

literature functions namely perceptive, aesthetic and educational functions.

Therefore, a proverb can be considered as a perfect literature work. Its perceptive

function is to make people aware that it is not easy to change one’s own

characteristic. Moreover, the proverb is expressed in a figurative and picturesque

way which helps readers understand the proverb easily then be deeply convinced.

On the contrary, idioms do not express judgments, gives advice or state general

truth about life, which means they do not have functions of perception and

education but only aesthetic function. Lacking these two functions, idioms can be

considered as a language unit only. The idiom to eat like a horse illustrate that

idioms own only aesthetic function since it merely describes the ability of eating

strongly of someone because of great hunger in figurative way as well as it does not

offer any moral lessons or experience of life.



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2.3.4.2 Idioms and collocations

Cruise (1987) defines collocation as “sequences of lexical items which

habitually co-occur, but which are nonetheless fully transparent in the sense that

each lexical constituent is also a semantic constituent”. The term collocation in

linguistics is used to refer to sequences of lexical items which habitually co-occur,

but which are nevertheless fully transparent in the sense that each lexical constituent

is also a semantic constituent. From Cowie’s viewpoint (1994), words which

combine with other words, or with idioms in particular grammatical constructions

are said to collocate with those words or idioms. Collocations are of two kinds:

restricted collocations and open collocations.

Collocations share several common features with idioms. Restricted

collocations are sometimes referred to as semi-idiom. In such combination, one

word has a figurative sense not found outside that limited context. The other

elements appears in a familiar and literal sense (the verb and noun in to jog one’s

memory, and the adjective and noun in a blind alley). Some collocations allow a

degree of lexicon variation, for instance to have a cardinal error/sin/virtue/grace

and in this respite, restricted collocations resemble open ones. Another point of

similarity is that the literal element is sometimes replaced by a pronoun, or deleted

altogether, in sentence where there is an earlier use of the full expression, for

example The Board didn’t entertain the idea, and the Senate wouldn’t entertain it

either. However, restricted collocations are idiom-like.

Besides the similarities, both idioms and collocations have their own typical

features that distinguish one from another. Open collocations are most sharply and

easily distinguished from idioms in the strict sense are combinations such as to fill

the sink and a broken window. The use of the term “open”, “free” or “loose” to refer

to such collocation reflects the fact, in each case, both elements (verb and object, or

adjective and noun) are freely recombinable, as for example in to fill/empty the sink

and to fill the sink/ basin. Typically, also, in open collocations, each element is used

in a common literal sense. It is easy to distinguish from idioms, nonetheless, they

have a kind of semantic cohesion. The semantic cohesion of a collocation is the

more marked if the meaning is carried by one (or more) of its constituent elements

which is highly restricted contextually, and different from its meaning in more

neutral contexts

To sum up, idioms and collocations share with each other several common

features. Both of them are fixed groups of words, highly restricted in a given



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context, and have arbitrary limitation in use. An idiom is a lexical complex which

semantically simplex while each lexical constituent is also a semantic constituent in

collocation. A collocation maybe idiom-like in respect of constraints on the

combinability of constituents, but the phrase is like in semantic structures.

2.3.5 Idioms denoting health

According to the Cambridge dictionary (2008), “health” is “the condition

of the body or mind and the degree to which it is free from illness, or the state of

being well”, for example: Her health was much improved after she started doing

exercise.

According to the Oxford dictionary (2013), “health” is the state of being free

from illness or injury. For example, Her concerns include possible health risks to

children and the blight on her property.

As defined in the Business dictionary (2013), “health” is the "State of

complete physical, mental, and social well being, and not merely the absence of

disease or infirmity". Health is a dynamic condition resulting from a body's constant

adjustment and adaptation in response to stresses and changes in the environment

for maintaining an inner equilibrium called homeostasis.

Health is a very popular topic in our lives because health is always important

to people. There are many idioms denoting health in English and Vietnamese.

Idioms denoting health is a part of idiom treasure; therefore they have features,

functions like idiom in general. An idiom is a fixed expression with the meaning of

which could be carried out by gathering the bare meaning of its singular words.

Idioms denoting health have semantic features of literal meaning and figurative

meaning, syntactic feature of stability. Idioms denoting health are the idioms that

contain the words about health such as die a natural death, show signs of an illness

in English idioms; sức khỏe là vàng, yếu như cây sậy in Vietnamese ones or express

the meaning related to health such as full of beans, black out, feel blue in English

idioms; Gái 17 bẻ gãy sừng trâu, cổ cày vai bừa, cày sâu cuốc bẫm in Vietnamese

ones.

2.4 English and Vietnamese cultural features

Language cannot exist without culture as its component. Linguists have

different definitions of culture as follows. According to Taylor (1974), “Culture, or

civilization, taken in its broad, ethnographic sense, is that complex whole which



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includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and

habits acquired by man as a member of society”

Trần Ngọc Thêm (1993) defined “Culture includes all things that make this

nation different from other ones” (Văn hóa bao gồm tất cả những gì làm cho dân

tộc này khác với dân tộc kia). In fact, Vietnamese and English people have different

cultural tradition, cultural backgrounds, customs, religious belief and different

geography environment. Therefore, the language that Vietnamese and English

people use reflects their different lifestyles and thought.

In the book “Cross-cultural communication”, Nguyễn Quang (1998) defined

culture as “a share background (for example, national, ethnic, religious) resulting

from a common language and communication style, custom, beliefs, attitudes, and

values. Culture in this text does not refer to art, music, literature, food, clothing

styles, and so on. It refers to the informal and often hidden patterns of human

interactions, expressions, and viewpoints that people in one culture share. The

hidden nature of culture has been compared to an iceberg, most of which is hidden

underwater! Like the iceberg most of the influence of culture on an individual

cannot be seen. The part of culture that is exposed is not always that which creates

cross-cultural difficulties; the hidden aspects of culture have significant effects on

behavior and on interactions with others”

In “Notes toward the definition of culture”, Eliot, Thomas Stearns (2010)

stated that “The culture will appear to be the product of the religion, or the product

of the culture”.

According to Kim Ann Zimmermann (2013), “Culture is the characteristics

and knowledge of a particular group of people, emcompasing language, religion,

cuisine, social habits, music and arts”. It defined culture as share patterns of

behaviors and interactions, cognitive construcs and understanding that are learned

by socialization. Thus, it can be seen as the growth of a group identify fostered by

social patterns unique to the group.

Based on theoretical perspectives and the cultural realities of English and

Vietnamese one, it is easy to see that culture is different from society to society and

even from individual to individual. What is right in one culture may not be right in

another culture. England belongs to the Western country while Vietnam belongs to

the Eastern one, so there are some differences of the culture between two countries.

Firstly, the difference of geography environment makes different cultures. The West

with the dry, cold climate and vast grasslands is suitable for animals, husbandry and

it establishes the trend of nomadic life. Therefore, Westerners in general and

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English people in particular, appreciate individualism and have ambition to conquer

the nature. Meanwhile, the East has the hot, humid climate and lot of delta which

are good condition for cultivation. Due to the influence of Eastern culture,

Vietnamese people tend to live in harmony with their environment. They have the

great respect for their communication which leads a flexible and harmonious life for

them. Therefore, in communication, Vietnamese people do not want to trouble

anyone. They always keep their inner feelings to remain a peaceful coexistence. In

England, they have a tendency to speak out nearly all personal problems and

criticize frankly.

Secondly, Vietnamese civilization is considered “plant civilization”. Among

the countries in Southeast Asian region, Vietnam is believed to be the cradle of

agricultural civilization. Also, natural history surrounding the society forms

Vietnamese cultural characteristics. For these reasons, Vietnamese products contain

a various kinds of tropical agricultural products such as: sắn dây, lá vơng, cùm cụm,

hắc hương, gừng, trần bì, đu đủ, khoai lang, cà, kinh giới, rau sam, ầu tầu, khoai

môn, chuối tiêu, hang mận, chuối hột, rau dền, cam quýt, dưa, củ cải, quả lê, giá

đỗ, ngô, khoai, ect.

In addition, one further different characteristic between English and

Vietnamese is their traditional religion. English people are Christians who believe

in God. In Vietnam, Buddhism is considered the most common religion. The

philosophies of Buddhism have affected Vietnamese people’s thought.

English people, with the origin of nomadic culture, have individual features

that give them the will of independence and determination. They are willing to face

their failure and try to get another opportunity. Nevertheless, Vietnamese people,

with the origin of agricultural culture, usually have the enduring and stable life.

In short, this part has described cultural features of English and Vietnamese.

The two patterns indicated above can show that the English culture is significantly

different from Vietnamese one. These two types of culture are almost contradictory.

Therefore, we can see that English and Vietnamese idioms denoting health have

different national cultural characteristics.

2.5 Summary

In conclusion, this chapter has reviewed previous related studies, the theory

about phrase, clause and sentence structures, some specific characteristics of

idioms, which will be the foundation for the following chapter in finding the

syntactic and semantic features. Besides, distinguishing idioms and other language

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units is a good way to help the author avoid mistakes while collecting and sorting

them. Finally, English and Vietnamese cultural features are also metioned. This is

the basics to explain the similarities and differences between English and

Vietnamese idioms denoting health for the following chapter.



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CHAPTER 3

METHODOLOGY

This chapter will present about the context of the study, the instrumentation,

the procedure and the statistical analysis.

3.1 Context of the study

Firstly, a large number of idioms denoting health were collected in order to

make corpus of this thesis. In order to have idioms and knowledge supporting for

the study, the author has read many linguistic books and reliable dictionaries for

example: “English idioms in use” by Michael McCarthy, Felicity O'Dell (2002);

“Oxford dictionary of idiom” by Judith Siefring (2004).

Besides, the Vietnamese idioms have been selected from some reference

books such as: “Từ điển thành ngữ Việt Nam” by Nguyễn Như Ý, Nguyễn Văn

Khang, Phạm Xuân Thành (1993); “Từ điển thành ngữ Anh-Việt” by Mai Lan

Hương, Nguyễn Thanh Loan, Lý Thanh Trúc, Trần Lan Anh, Phan Thị Mai Hương,

Hà Thanh Uyên (2008); “Từ điển thành ngữ tục ngữ Việt Nam” by Nguyễn Lân

(2015).

After the data of idioms denoting health are collected, there are 109 English

idioms denoting health and 109 Vietnamese ones. They are the idioms that contain

the words denoting health such as die a natural death, show signs of an illness in

English idioms; sức khỏe là vàng, yếu như cây sậy in Vietnamese ones as well as

the idioms that express the meanings related to health such as full of beans, black

out, feel blue in English idioms; Gái 17 bẻ gãy sừng trâu, cổ cày vai bừa, cày sâu

cuốc bẫm in Vietnamese ones.

The data used for analysis of this thesis, as mentioned above, are collected

from dictionaries and books. The dictionaries and books are chosen with names of

authors, names of publishers, time and place of publication. In addition, the results

of the research are withdrawn from analysis of evidence, statistics with a thorough

consideration. Therefore, the thesis is totally reliable and valid.

After collecting the data from reliable sources, the author classifies and

analyzes them into syntactic and semantic fields in order to find out the similarities

and differences between English and Vietnamese idioms denoting health.

3.2 Instruments

This study is designed to investigate the idioms denoting health in English



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and Vietnamese, so the descriptive and comparative methods have been chosen as

major ones.

First, the descriptive method is utilized in order to give a full account of

syntactic and semantic features of the idioms denoting health in English. Second,

the comparative method is applied to identify the similarities and differences in

term of syntactic and semantic features of the idioms denoting health in English and

Vietnamese.

Some other methods such as analytical, synthetic methods have also been

used as supporting ones. Furthermore, to investigate in details the syntactic features

of the idioms denoting health in English with their different components and

semantic features with various nuances of meanings, analytical method is also

employed, and then the synthetical method is used for grouping them on the basics

of certain criteria according to syntactic and semantic features. Moreover, quite a

few of research techniques have been combined, such as statistics, componential

analysis and contrastive analysis.

Last but not least, setting up a regular consultancy with supervisor for a

guidance and academic exchange is a critical technique to find out a right direction

for doing the research successfully.

3.3 Procedures

This study is conducted by the following steps. Firstly, the author collected

English and Vietnamese idioms from reliable sources such as books, dictionaries.

After that, statisticalizing the data that was collected is also an important step.

Secondly, the author analyzed and categorized English and Vietnamese idioms

denoting health according to their syntactic and semantic features based on their

meanings, theoretical background in chapter 2 and some printed medicine books.

The next step is that figuring out the similarities and the differences in terms of the

syntactic and semantic features of English and Vietnamese idioms denoting health.

Finally, the author put forward some implications for teaching and learning idioms

as well as making some suggestions for further research.

3.4 Statistical analysis

109 English and 109 Vietnamese idioms denoting health are collected from

the reliable sources such as dictionaries and printed books.

With the collection of data from both languages, we analyze and classify

them in order to meet the need of analysis. Data analysis is done in terms of syntax



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and semantics.

Syntactically, the analysis and classification are mainly based on the

different structural categories of idioms such as noun phrase, verb phrases, adjective

phrases, prepositional phrases, adverb phrases. From which, we find out the

similarities and differences in idioms denoting health s’ structure.

Semantically, the classification is carried out on the basic typical semantic

features of idioms denoting health in two languages.

From the results of the analysis, we also suggest the ways to handle idioms in

general and some effective ways for language users in teaching and learning idioms

in general and idioms denoting health in particular.

3.5 Summary

This chapter gave an overview of the research design. The descriptive and

contrastive ones were mainly used for the findings of the study. Books, dictionaries,

and tables are useful instruments for data collection and analysis. Besides, it

mentioned how detailed the data for this study were collected and analysed. After

that, it pointed out the research procedures following with the aim of guaranteeing

the research schedule. Finally, it further emphasized the importance of validity and

reliability in doing research.



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CHAPTER 4

SYNTACTIC AND SEMANTIC FEATURES OF IDIOMS DENOTING

HEALTH IN ENGLISH AND VIETNAMESE

In this chapter, the findings of syntactic and semantic features of idioms

denoting health will be presented. The author will conduct a combined analysis of

idioms denoting health in English and Vietnamese. Also, to clarify the findings, a

detailed discussion and examples from the data collection will be presented.

4.1 Syntactic and semantic features of idioms denoting health in English

4.1.1 Syntactic features

4.1.1.1 Phrase structures

Based on the statistical results, the author has found 96 idioms have the

phrases structures out of 109 English idioms making up 88 % of English idioms

denoting health. Based on the theoretical background, idioms can be divided into 4

groups: idioms in a structure of a noun phrase, idioms in a structure of a verb

phrase, idioms in a structure of an adjective phrase, and idioms in a structure of a

prepositional phrase.

4.1.1.1.1 Noun phrase

There are 21 idioms making up 19,3% of English idioms denoting health.

The idiomatic noun phrases are classified into these following patterns:

(Article) + Adjective + Noun:

4 English idioms which account for 19% out of 21 ones in total are under

this pattern such as: couch doctor, junk food, spare tyre, verbal diarrhoea.

Here are the examples:

- The man was sent to see a couch doctor because of his many problems.

(Doctor is the noun and couch is the adjective that supplies the meaning for doctor)

- I’d better go on a diet, I’m getting a spare tyre.

(Tyre is the noun and spare is the adjective that supplies the meaning for tyre)

- Junk food is bad for us because it contains large amount of harmful substances.

(Food is the noun and junk is the adjective that supplies the meaning for food)

-If someone has verbal diarrhoea, they can not stop talking.

(Diarrhoea is the noun and verbal is the adjective that supplies the meaning for

diarrhoea)

(Article) + Noun/ Noun phrase + Prepositional phrase:



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Accroding to the authors such as Hopper; Knapp and Scott (1981), idioms can convey positive, neutral or negative meanings. Some idioms have positive meaning like look the picture of health (look extremely healthy). As for idioms conveying negative meaning

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