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Învăţământ liceal | Limbi moderne

Propus de: puskasalbina | 03.04.2020 17:14 | Revista cadrelor didactice nr. 63/2020 | 48 vizualizări

Un articol despre posibilitățile oferite de ora de limba engleză pentru înțelegerea expresiilor idiomatice. Să traducem, sau nu? - aceasta a fost întrebarea care m-a motivat să scriu articolul.


An idiom is usually a group of words whose meaning will be peculiar and cannot be predicted from the meanings of the constituent words. From the translator's point of view, collocations and idioms belong to rather demanding text units, which often require a high level of linguistic, communicative, cultural and translational competence. In most cases when an idiom is translated, either its meaning is changed or it is meaningless. There are estimated to be at least 25,000 idiomatic expressions in English, therefore the English- Romanian translator needs to be aware, and appreciative of their semantics (the difficulty with idioms being that their meaning is not deducible from that of the individual elements), their syntax (non-free and sometimes puzzling), their pragmatics (related to a variety of linguistic and textual circumstances, more specific of which can stem from conscious breach of the frozen syntax, the metaphorical quality of their meaning or culture-specific usage patterns) on both the source and the target languages of the English-to-Romanian translation process. In addition, a successful choice of an appropriate equivalent requires a well-founded translational decision as to the most relevant aspect(s) of the value of the phrase in question i.e. the aspect which should be matched in the translation, as well as an awareness of the various procedures that can be employed. The paper discusses translation equivalents of English collocations and idioms present in Romanian translations at the English class.
Examples would be:
Bookworm= șoarece de bibliotecă;
Copycat= imitator,
To have a sweet tooth= a se da în vânt după dulciuri;
A pain in the neck= o persoană agasantă;
To be on cloud nine- a fi în al noulea cer

These were translated by my students (from school) as:

Bookworm= vierme de carte
Copycat= pisică de copiat
To have a sweet tooth= a avea carii din cauza dulciurilor
A pain in the neck= o durere de gât
To be on cloud nine= Aladin pe norul numărul 9.
(Collocations taken from Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary)

Idiom Literal translation in Romanian Meaning
A bee in my bonnet O albină in pălărie A problem on my mind
Have a bone to pick with you Am de ros un os cu tine Have a discussion with you/ have a complaint against you
Open up a whole new can of worms A deschide o întreagă nouă cutie cu viermi Expose a lot of serious problems
An arm and a leg O mână și un picior Very expensive
Baker’s dozen Duzina brutarului Thirteen
Finding your feet A-ți găsi picioarele To become more comfortable in whatever you are doing
Funny farm Ferma de glumeți A mental institutional facility
Graveyard shift Schimbul groparului Working hours from about 12:00 am to 8:00 am
Lend me your ear Împrumută-mi urechea ta To politely ask for someone’s full attention
No room to swing a cat Nu e loc nici sa învârți o pisică An unsually small or confined space

Let us imagine what a so called”instinctive translator” would visualize when they meet the following idioms:

Hand in glove
To rub elbows
To have skeletons in the closet
To dig somebody
Eager beaver
Like something the cat dragged it
To chicken out of something
A dog’s breakfast
An elephant in the room
To drink like a fish
Snail mail
Paper tiger
Cold turkey

My students gave me an approximate translation in pictures for these idioms. They transposed the literal translations into visuals, making them extremely alluring and funny. I must tell you, I laughed in tears.
It is difficult for Romanian native speakers to master English idioms, because the figurative meanings of English idioms cannot be predicted through an analysis of their individual word meanings. It is not surprising, “The trouble (...) is that they take everything Americans say literally” (Buchwald, 2000, p. 104).
Since it is vital for EFL learners to learn English idioms in order to master English, it is important for EFL teachers to design various activities for students to use with English idioms and subsequently acquire them efficiently. Moreover, students learn better when they are provided with collaborative activities because they can interact with peers and share fun in learning. For example, Scarcella and Oxford (1992) stressed that teachers need to illustrate key vocabulary effectively by showing pictures and diagrams so as to improve the ESL students’ reading comprehension . Mayer (1999) found that words and pictures presented together helped students recall better than alone. It is efficient to provide interesting pictures to foster and reinforce vocabulary development. Consequently, visuals must be stimulating, interesting and motivating to students’ comprehension and retention of reading.
Finally, when teachers integrate listening, speaking, reading and writing activities together in teaching English idioms, students can be involved in the application of English idioms in four skills. Thus, it is effective to teach EFL learners English idiom when they are provided with various activities to practice and use English idioms in different contexts.

1. BUCHWALD, A. (2000). Don’t say ‘Let’s Get Together’ to a foreigner, in S.K. Cohen, Building Reading Fluency. Words in Focus, Singapore: Thomas Learning.
2. MAYER, R. E. (1999). Research-based principles for the design of instructional messages: The case of multimedia explanations. Document Design, 1, 7-20.
3. SCARCELLA, R. C., & Oxford, R. L. (1992). The tapestry of language learning. The individual in the communicative classroom, Boston, MA: Heinle & Heinle.

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