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Chart 4.2: Rate of semantic features of English and Vietnamese IH

Chart 4.2: Rate of semantic features of English and Vietnamese IH

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As can be seen from the above table, there are 7 categories meanings of

idiom denoting health in English as follows: indicating the prophylactic, the

treatment, the good health, the poor health, the death, the health recovery and the

illness and symptoms. In Vietnamese idioms denoting health, there also have 7

categories such as: indicating the prophylactic, the treatment, the good health, the

poor health, the advice, the prevention in eating and the longevity and desire. It is

easy to see that both English and Vietnamese idioms denoting health are employed

for the same four topics such as: indicating the prophylactic, the treatment, the good

health and the poor health.

In terms of prophylactic, the percentage of this criterion in English and

Vietnamese is the same (2,8%). Traditionally, Easterners in general and English

people in particular have a periodic health checkup so prophylactic idioms often

involve physical examination such as: Check up; Have a physical; An ounce of

prevention is worth a pound of cure. In contrast, Vietnamese people from the past

do not have the habit of regular checkups. One of the main reasons is the material

life of the Vietnamese people is not high. Agricultural production is the main

occupation of Vietnamese people. It is just enough to cover their everyday life.

They do not really care about their health and just visit the doctor when there are

some signs of illness. Thus, proverbial expressions are simply statements that

encourage people to promote prevention rather than cure: Phòng bệnh hơn chữa

bệnh; Để đau chạy thuốc chẳng thà giải trước thì hơn; Đói ăn rau, đau uống thuốc.

In terms of treatment, the percentage of this meaning in English and

Vietnamese are quite similar (17,4% in English and 18,3% in Vietnamese ). English

people, with the origin of nomadic culture, have individual features that give them

the will of independence and the determination. According to their habit, when

people have signs of illness, they go to the hospital to see a doctor: Bitter pill to

swallow; Fill a prescription; Get a check up; In surgery; Nurse someone back to

health; On medication; Run some tests; Show signs of an illness; Take one’s

medicine; Keep body and soul together; Go under the knife; Just what the doctor

ordered. They treat the disease by taking medication or surgery if needed. Western

culture promotes science and technology in curing. Therefore, English idioms

indicating the treatment are often associated with: pill, surgery, nurse, medication,

medicine, doctor. Meanwhile, Vietnamese civilization is considered “plant

civilization”. Vietnam, among the countries in Southeast Asian region, is believed



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to be the cradle of agricultural civilization. Also, natural history surrounding the

society form Vietnamese cultural characteristics. For these reasons, Vietnamese

products contain variety kinds of tropical agricultural products. That is the reason

why Vietnamese people often use traditional methods or herbal ingredients to treat

some simple diseases. These are the methods that have been passed down long time

ago: Cây sắn dây là thầy con rắn; Lòi tỹ mới dịt lá vông; Một cái rắm bằng nắm

thuốc tiêu, bằng liều thuốc gió, bằng lọ thuốc tiên; Đậu xanh, đu đủ của chua, có

tình rã thuốc chớ cho uống cùng; Thịt gà, cá chép, ba ba, trong bấy nhiêu thứ liệu

mà phải kiêng.

In terms of the good health, the percentage of idioms indicating the good health

in English (18,3%) is a little bit higher than in Vietnamese ones (14,6%). The West

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

establishes the trend of nomadic life so the Westerners in general and English people in

particular, appreciate individualism and they have the ambition to conquer the nature.

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

them the will of the determination. That is one of the important reasons why English

people highly appreciate the good health. When talking about the good health, English

people use positive adjectives: Alive and well; As fit as a fiddle; Clean bill; Feel fit;

Feel on top of the world; In good shape/ condition; In the best of health,; In the pink;

Full of beans; Clean bill of health; Hale and hearty; Right as rain. In Vietnam, from

the cradle of Vietnamese culture in the Red River Delta of the Vietnamese mainstream

with Kinh Ky culture, village culture and wet rice civilization, it can be said that

Vietnam is an agricultural country. With agricultural production is mainly, a good

health is needed. Vietnamese idioms indicating the good health often contain the words

related to agricultural production: Cổ cày, vai bừa; Sức dài vai rộng; Khỏe như vâm;

Gái 17 bẻ gãy sừng trâu; Trâu ho bằng bò rống; Khỏe như trâu; Người gầy thầy cơm;

Cày sâu cuốc bẫm, ect.

In terms of the poor health, the percentage of English idioms are about as

twice as the percentage of Vietnamese ones (23,9% in English and 11% in

Vietnamese). In Vietnam, Buddhism is considered the most common religion. The

philosophies of Buddhism have affected Vietnamese people’s thought. Vietnamese

people’s competitive spirits are usually in favor of enduring and stable life. They do

not want to talk about the bad things. The idioms indicating the poor health in

English and Vietnamese often denote the negative adjectives. In Vietnam, there are



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“đau, yếu, gầy” in the following idioms: Từ gót chí đầu, đau đâu khốn đấy; Yếu

như sên; Thà đau ngất chẳng thà giắt răng; Ba ngày béo, bảy ngày gầy; Yếu như

cây sậy; ect. In English, there are “pale, black, sick, bad, weak…” in: Pale around

the gills; Black and blue; Black out; Get sick; In bad shape; Weak at knees or the

words that relate to the death: As pale as a ghost; As pale as death; Death warmedup; ect.

Besides, there are some differences between English and Vietnamese in

customs, cultural background, religion belief and geography environment. English

idioms denoting health use imagines which are not familiar with Vietnamese

people. Therefore, there are also a lot of differences in forming idioms and the ways

conveying the meanings of idioms in two languages.

Semantically, there are some different points between English idioms

denoting health and Vietnamese ones. As can be seen from table 4.9, some

differences between English and Vietnamese idioms denoting health are revealed.

It is clear that the biggest dissimilarity is the rate of advice field. The idioms

about advice occupy the highest number, 35 idioms making up 32,2 % in

Vietnamese. This difference is mainly caused by the way of expressing the two

countries’ culture. If Vietnamese people like to use idioms to transfer some advice

and experience to the readers, English people donot. This table also shows that there

are seven semantic fields in idioms denoting health in English and this is the same

in Vietnam. There are 7 categories of meanings of idiom denoting health in English

as follows: indicating the prophylactic, the treatment, the good health, the poor

health, the death, the health recovery and the illness and symptoms. In Vietnamese

idioms denoting health, there are also 7 categories such as: indicating the

prophylactic, the treatment, the good health, the poor health, the advice, the

prevention in eating and the longevity and desire. However, some of these criteria

are not the same. In English idioms, there are no idioms related to longevity and

desire, advice and prevention in eating. These percentages in Vietnamese idioms are

3,6 %, 32,2% and 17,5% for a total of 53,3%. Meanwhile, there are not any

Vietnamese idioms indicating the death, recovery, illness and symptoms as in

English. These percentages in English idioms are 10,1%, 9,2% and 18,3% for a total

of 37,6%. These differences are caused by the differences in culture. In

communication, Vietnamese people donot want to trouble anyone and avoid talking

about bad things. They always keep their inner feelings to remain a peaceful



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coexistence. Hence, Vietnamese people prefer talking about the advice to talking

about the death or illness to avoid making the others sad. English people have a

tendency to speak out nearly all personal problems even the illness or the death

frankly.

4.4 Implications for teaching and learning English and Vietnamese idioms

denoting health

Idioms need to be recognized as not just imperceptive lexical units, but they are

an important part of any linguistic heritage and that their existence in spoken and

written texts has a reason. The following suggestions should be paid attention to during

the process of teaching and learning English idioms, especially English idioms

denoting health.

4.4.1 For teaching

In language teaching, it is essential to pay attention to idioms denoting health

as they can be utilized to better students’ language and create funny, interesting

activities as well as add humor to the lessons.

Syntactically, the first thing is that teacher should pay attention to teach

grammar units such as noun phrases, verb phrases, adjective phrases, prepositional

phrases, adverb phrases, clause structures and sentence structures, etc. If students

donot know the grammar structures, they cannot identify the syntactic features of

idioms to classify them correctly in the phrase structures, clause structures or

sentence structures. When teachers teach grammar, teachers should incorporate

idioms into the grammatical structures that they are teaching as follows: as pale as

a ghost (equal comparision), bitter bill to swallow (comparative structure). Besides,

teacher gives their students the basic knowledge about idioms to distinguish them

from the other language units like proverbs or collocations.

In addition, using idioms denoting health in teaching grammar such as

comparative structure, equal comparison will surely make grammar periods more

exciting, intriguing and easier to understand. It can even foster students’

vocabularies as well as the structures. Teacher should teach idioms denoting health

in different contexts.

Semantically, it has been argued that the idioms seem to be a complex part of

the foreign language users since their meaning are irrelevant to their constituents.

Teachers need to make sure that updated methodologies are implemented in the

classes. As can be seen, the lack of awareness of the importance of idioms to be taught



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in classes might be a reason behind the learners’s low scores in some areas of idioms.

An important first step is exposing learners to idioms denoting health in context,

which is useful to learners in comprehending unknown idioms. Teachers should

encourage learners to infer the meaning of the idioms by using contextual clues or

background knowledge and teach them the culture of how an idiom came into common

usage. For example, teachers introduce the idioms go under the knife, they have to

make a specific situation for learners to understand more easily. After that, teachers

should have a talk about English culture. English people highly appreciate technology

in the treatment, so they normally go to the hospital and visit doctors if they donot feel

well. After presenting these idioms in context to help learners infer their meanings,

teachers should revise the idioms that have been studied. Furthermore, in practicing

idioms, the teacher should decide the common idioms so that students have the

opportunities to hear, read and use expressions through types of exercises. This can be

done in some ways, including typical vocabulary exercises like matching idioms and

their meanings, filling in the blank with the appropriate idioms, replacing underlined

expressions with an idiom, etc.

Secondly, another significant way is that teachers provide learners with

strategies for dealing with figurative meanings. Through greater awareness of idioms,

their literal meaning and underlying conceptual metaphors, learners will be better

equipped with figurative meaning and make sense of it without teacher’s guidance.

Teaching of English idioms denoting health to Vietnamese learners of English at all

levels should be paid more attention in order to raise their awareness in learning

English idioms denoting health.

Thirdly, idioms denoting health which are introduced should be suitable for

learners. For example, for elementary and pre-intermediate levels, idioms should be

listed in semantic fields, topics or key words. Of course, the explanation in terms of

structures and meanings is indispensable in order to avoid misunderstanding of the

figurative meaning. At advanced level, analyzing semantic mechanisms of idioms

should be done so that learners can discover the figurative meaning of an idiom by

themselves. Moreover, teacher should guide Vietnamese learners in using various

dictionaries, course books and others to check the correctness of idioms before using

them, and then finding idiomatic expressions in the daily speech of English speaking

people, in novels, books, newspaper, magazines and articles.

Fourthly, teachers should present the differences between the use of a foreign



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language and the mother tongue to avoid interlingual errors. Mother tongue has

traditionally been discouraged in the foreign language classroom, but it is important to

recognize the value of discussing and comparing the same linguistic aspects in the two

languages. To give an equivalent translation of an idiomatic expression where possible

saved time, energy and undoubtedly more effectively in bringing home the full

meaning to learners. Moreover, it can be encouraging for learners to see that

Vietnamese and English idiomatic equivalents can even have syntactic and semantic

equivalents that are more or less congruent. For example, the English and Vietnamese

languages have idiomatic equivalents within the lexical areas with equivalent meanings

being conveyed by syntactic constructions that are more or less similar such as Go to

the end of the earth and Đi đến cùng trời, cuối đất ; What come, will come and Việc gì

đến sẽ đến. Some less similar syntactic construction account for idiomatic pairs such as

Easy come, easy go and Của thiên trả địa; Train up a child in the way he should go and

Tre non dễ uốn. It is easy to see that English idioms are verbs while Vietnamese ones

are nouns.

Finally, if possible, teacher should also give pictures or games to demonstrate

the story as they will make a great impression on learners and help them remember the

idioms easily. For example, dialogues and role-play are also useful written and oral

activites in teaching idioms. Teacher can assign learners to write dialogue in pairs by

using English idioms introduced in class and then act out the dialogue. Learners can be

motivated to write dialogues without burden because pair collaboration and role

play activity can help them remember the dialogue they wrote through repetitive

rehearsals. It is easier and funnier for them to remember English idioms because

they have chance to share and enjoy learning English idioms with friends. For

example, to introduce the idiom Dogs are barking, a dialogue is presented like the

following:

A: What’s wrong with you? You look so tired.

B: Yes, I have been shopping all day. My dogs are barking.

If teachers have an artistic talent, they could draw cartoons to see if the

learners can work out the idioms. The advantage of humor used in this way is that it

can act as an anchor in the learner’s mind. Therefore, in order to teach idioms

effectively, it is necessary to teach their historical and cultural characteristics as

well.



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4.4.2 For learning

It was found that the learners generally face difficulties in the comprehension

of English idioms, especially the idioms denoting health. Some of the difficulties

faced by the learners may be attributed to the learners’ inability to recognize

English idioms. In fact, the learners have wrongly attempted to guess the structure

and the meaning of English idioms. Thus, some implications could be put forward

to help learners for the possible better language learning.

Syntactically, students should study and master the basic knowledge about

grammar. Students have to understand well the theory of phrases, clauses as well as

sentence structures. Then, they read books to know exactly what English idioms

denoting health, then how to use them in different circumstances or ask their

teachers or native speakers to get information. They also should collect sources of

materials in English to see how the native speakers utilize the idioms denoting

health in their writing and imitate their own language use. As a result, they may

master the use of idioms in general and idioms denoting health in particular

effectively and correctly.

Semantically, students should first learn about the differences of the culture

between two countries. England belongs to the Western country while Vietnam

belongs to Eastern one. Therefore, it is necessary for people to build up as much

cultural background knowledge as possible. No matter when learners study English

idioms or Vietnamese idioms, they must bear in mind that they are not only to learn

idioms but also to learn their correspondent cultures. In practice, the most effective

way to possess the cultural background knowledge of idioms is reading. Learners

can read short stories about English idioms in general and idioms denoting health in

particular. The stories with lively and eye-catching images are interesting to the

readers. Idioms are embedded in specific contexts to help learners memorize them

more easily. For example: Loreen Leedy (2004): There is a frog in my throat;

Vanita (2012): Out of the blue; Marvin (2007): Mad as a wet hen; Cynthia (2007):

Ack, there is a bug in my ear; etc. They can also read books introducing British and

Vietnamese cultures. In addition, if the learning is impeded by new idioms, learners

can resort to a dictionary for help. Furthermore, learners can gain some knowledge

about idioms by communicating with foreigners. In general, it is indispensable for



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learners to have cultural background knowledge to help them have better

understanding of idioms.

Secondly, because the learners have not been familiar with types, features,

and usages of idioms in English language, there should be a list of compulsory

courses for undergraduate level in the subjects of idioms and their functions in

spoken and written contexts. Learners should use idioms in practising different

communicative skills and choose appropriate idioms in certain contexts. Also,

learners have attempted to rely on their first language, trying to find out the

meanings of unfamiliar idioms by looking for similar expressions in their first

language.

Thirdly, students should be offered the context to enhance interpretation of

idioms denoting health. Learning English idioms denoting health in meaningful

context is more effective then learning isolated items through memorization and

drilling. Besides, learners should employ knowledge about history, culture and

customs related to the idioms in the process of dealing with English idioms

denoting health. In other words, learners should realize the usefulness and necessity

of learning and applying idioms and English idioms denoting health because using

English idioms denoting health in communication inspires confidence in students

and language users.

Finally, to have a deep understanding of idioms in general and English

idioms denoting health, learners must have good translational equivalents of idioms

denoting health. English learners should be aware of cultural elements that have

great influence on idioms in general and idioms denoting health in particular.

Moreover, when translating, the learners should know about the major methods

such as semantic translation method, communicative translation method and use

difference techniques like using a similar idiom or using a similar idiom but

different form or using non-idiomatic phrase or using omission, etc.

In short, to apply these devices for teaching English idioms denoting health

effectively, teachers can follow the above formula whenever possible. It also helps

learners of English perceive patterns and relations regarding the meaning, the

structure and the function of English idioms. It is necessary to underline once again

the importance of making learners active participants in the learning process. It has

been suggested that learners provided with the full array of instruments of analysis



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retrieved through years of theoretical research in the field of idiomatic expressions,

can adopt the right attitude to handle such complex signs. The exposure to full

grammar of idioms should consent learners to acquire a more curious and analytical

approach: the only key to better passive and active knowledge of idioms.

4.5 Summary

In short, the conclusions of this chapter are as follows. Firstly, some phrasal

structures of idioms denoting health in English and Vietnamese are analyzed in turn

to draw some typical features of idioms in terms of syntax in the two languages.

Secondly, a statistical summary of syntactic features of idioms denoting health in

English and Vietnamese has been shown. Thirdly, this chapter also illustrates

semantic fields of health in both languages which are also handled to help us

understand more about the meaning transfer of natural language like idioms.

Furthermore, the similarities and differences of idioms denoting health in English

and Vietnamese have been proposed to provide an overall understanding about

idioms in two languages. Lastly, some possible implications are also suggested for

teachers and learners to help them teach and learn English idioms in general and

idioms denoting health in particular better and more effectively.



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CHAPTER 5

CONCLUSION

This chapter, the author presents a brief review of what has been studied.

Then, the limitations of the study and some suggestions for further studies will also

be mentioned.

5.1 Recapitulation

The study focuses on analyzing the syntactic and semantic features of idioms

denoting health in English and Vietnamese. Through the analysis of two aspects, the

similarities and differences in linguistic features are also discussed and shown. In the

syntactic aspect, idioms denoting health in English and Vietnamese are formed in the

phrase structures. The phrase structures are classified into noun phrases, verb phrases,

adjective phrases and prepositional phrases. Idioms denoting health in English has four

types, but idioms in Vietnam have three types. They are noun phrases, verb phrases and

adjective phrases. In semantic aspects, through the process of investigation, the author

discovered most idioms contain two simultaneous meaning at the same time including

literal meaning and figurative meaning. The figurative meaning of idioms is usually

conveyed through the expressive meanings.

More interestingly, some English idioms have the Vietnamese equivalents,

which prove speakers of English and speakers of Vietnamese, to a certain extent,

sometimes, recognize the world in the same way. However, the images selected to

refer to the same matter are different in two languages. From the discussion, we can

recognize that every country has its own way in singing idioms and by using them,

people also understand more about life, geography, living habits, culture, customs,

religious belief of the people who speak English and Vietnamese.

5.2 Concluding remarks

As stated in the previous chapters, this work attempts to describe and analyze

the syntactic and semantic features of English and Vietnamese idioms denoting

health in order to find out the similarities and differences in meanings as well as

syntax in both languages. They are briefly presented as follow:

In term of the first research question about the syntactic and semantic

features of idioms denoting health in English and Vietnamese, the author stated that

syntactically, both English and Vietnamese idioms denoting health are formed in

the phrase structures. The phrasal structures are classified into noun phrases,

adjective phrases, verb phrases and prepositional phrases. Semantically, through the

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process of the investigation, we have also discovered that most idioms contain

simultaneous meanings. That is the reason why sometimes, we find it is difficult to

understand the idioms at the first sight. Basically, the figurative meaning of idioms

is usually conveyed through the expression means. More interestingly, some idioms

denoting health in Vietnamese have no equivalence in English and vice versa

because of the cultural differences between two countries.

With regard for the second research question about the similarities and

differences between English and Vietnamese idioms denoting health, the author

found out that, English people tend to use verb phrase structures to communicate

whereas Vietnamese people tend to use the sentence structures. Semantically, there

are 7 categories meanings of idiom denoting health in English as follows: indicating

the prophylactic, the treatment, the good health, the poor health, the death, the

health recovery and the illness and symptoms. In Vietnamese idioms denoting

health, there also have 7 categories such as: indicating the prophylactic, the

treatment, the good health, the poor health, the advice, the prevention in eating and

the longevity and desire. It is easy to see that both English and Vietnamese idioms

denoting health are employed for the same four topics such as: indicating the

prophylactic, the treatment, the good health and the poor health.

In term of the third question about the solutions to teaching and learning

English idioms denoting health, the author pointed out that applying the devices for

teaching English idioms denoting health is effective. Therefore, teachers can follow

the formula whenever possible. It also helps learners of English perceive patterns

and relations regarding the meaning, the structure and the function of English

idioms

5.3 Limitations of the study

The thesis investigates syntactic features and semantic features of English

and Vietnamese idioms denoting health. Although the author has the best efforts of

research, it is obvious that there are some certain limitations. Firstly, the study only

focuses on the syntactic and semantic features rather than cultural and pragmatic

features of idioms denoting health.

In addition, in this thesis, the author studied only the idioms denoting health

rather than other expressions like idioms denoting water, time, animals, colours,

family or friends, etc.

Moreover, under the constraint of ability, the researcher could only compare



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Chart 4.2: Rate of semantic features of English and Vietnamese IH

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