Comparison between Chinese and English Animal Idioms

来源:网络(WWW.NYLW.NET) 作者:郭薇 发表于:2011-04-28 10:57  点击:
【关健词】animal idioms;cultural differe
Idiom is an important component of language, and animal idioms form a large proportion in idioms as a whole. Through the comparison between Chinese and English animal idioms one can understand the cultures of these two countries. The differences of t

 Animals, the closest creatures to human beings, naturally appear frequently in human’s language. As one important part of language, idiom contains lots of animal images. Some can be easily understood from their literal meanings, while others will make people puzzle since they were created for some special and complex reasons. Animal idioms not only reflect people’s attitude and traditional thought towards animals but also embody people’s culture. Compare animal idioms between Chinese and English will help people easily discover the connections and distinctions of these two cultures.
  1 Distinctions in Chinese and English Animal Idioms
  1.1 Differences
  Despite of some similarities in Chinese and English animal idioms, each language has its unique features which make the language out of others. For various reasons, differences are in the highest flight when comparing cultures and languages between two nations. From the differences of idioms, we discover the distinctions in each culture. On animal idioms’ part, there are three kinds of differences, namely image differences, meaning differences and emotion differences. They are connected with each other and at the same time complement each other.
  1.2 Gaps
  With the accumulation of differences and connections, some animal idioms might find no similar expressions in their counterpart language. This is a big barrier of communication between two nations. Because of the blank in corresponding language, foreigners may absolutely have no idea about the connotations of such idioms without annotations.
  1.3 Reasons for Distinctions
  Rome was not built in one day, nor was it built in one material. Through the evolution of thousands of years, cultures have been influenced by all kinds of elements to present us its deep significance today. The following four reasons can be regarded as the main factors in regard to the contributions to the rich animal idioms.
 1.3.1 Historical Factor
  Language shapes in the process of historical development. Animal idioms, an important part of language surely came into being with deep print of history. Different countries possess different history cultures, which mainly comprise allusion, myth, poems, ancient books and records, etc. The cultural connotation from history is the gem of human cultural heritage. Knowledge of historical backgrounds of Chinese and English helps understand those unique animal idioms easier.
  Evidence shows that as early as 8000 years ago, totem of dragon had existed in China. It indicates the incredibly long history of the respect to dragon by Chinese people. In China, dragon is supreme and Chinese people regard themselves as the offspring of dragon. With such a long history of dragon-worship, it is no wonder that nearly all idioms about dragon refer to luck, dignity or authority, such as “龙凤呈祥”,“龙行虎步”。
  In Britain, if someone is considered foolish, he will be described as a goose. In the Middle Age, Swedish army attacked a British town. All citizens in that town hung geese on the wall of their houses to express their resistance against and disdain to the army. In great anger, the king commanded to cook all geese in the town, thus the whole town was burnt. Gradually, “cook one’s goose” meant to destroy one’s plan or future.
  1.3.2 Geographic Factor
  “Any cultural characteristic could not be separated from its environment. Every culture differs from each other because of its terrain, climate and surroundings.” [1] No matter what people do, they have to dependent on nature. People not only make living through nature but also seek for psychic back from nature. After a long time stay at someplace, people will unconsciously integrate into that geographic culture. Even today in this technological-advanced society nature makes a great influence on people’s life, let alone on our ancestors a long time ago. In face with such a decisive element to their life, undoubtedly they would talk about the nature in idioms.
  1.3.3 Religious Factor
  Religion is a main component of human culture. It reflects different attitudes and values of nations. Since language is a key way to spread the ideology of religions, through idioms we could see more clearly religion’s influence on culture.
  Chinese people have experienced an inflective process about its religious belief. Many idioms about religion came down and are widely used till today. For example, “来龙去脉”comes from Taoism, in which the mountain is compared to dragon and water to pulse. According to Taoism, this idiom means that one should make clear the origin and trend in order to know the geomantic condition of that place. However, nowadays the meaning of this idiom has been changed to illustrate the context of some matter.
  1.3.4 Conventional Factor
  The use of animal idioms to some extent depends on people’s opinion on these animals, and their opinion largely depends on their convention since they settled on the land they lived. Due to different conventions, people of different nations would have their own codes of thinking, concepts of value and aesthetic standards. Convention is the realest reflection of people’s traditional life and their ways to deal with difficulties. The convention of a culture is the basic knowledge as well as the best approach to understand its language for foreigners who want to learn it. I believe it is convention that leads to the largest gap between cultures and languages. Because they live with different conventions, they treat people with different methods and view things in different angles. (责任编辑:南粤论文中心)转贴于南粤论文中心:代写代发论文_毕业论文带写_广州职称论文代发_广州论文网)