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The Similarity and Discrepancy between English Idioms and Chinese Idioms


Chinese Culture emphasize on ... As to the expression which means things that pop up ... it often indicates aggression,cruelty,jeopardy and wrath Red flag ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Similarity and Discrepancy between English Idioms and Chinese Idioms

The Similarity and Discrepancy between English
Idioms and Chinese Idioms
Reference Books
  • 1.A Comparative Study of English and Chinese
    Idioms ??? ? ????????? 1999.6
  • 2.???????????? ?? ? ??????? 2000?12?
  • 3.?????? ??? ???????? 2005?7?
  • 4.?????????????????? ??? ?????? 2008?1?
  • 5.????????????? ??? ?????? 2006?11?
  • 6.??????????? ?? ?????????? 2006?27?

  • Without idioms, it may still be a long way before
    a language becomes the treasury of a culture or
    even a nation. Just as the distiled water is of
    purer quality, the distiled product of a
    language---idioms, are of finer features.
  • In fact, idioms are by all means the
    crystallization of a language due to its long
    history and also, the telling demonstration of
    wisdom of a nation.
  • Wisdom, as it is, takes many forms, so it is
    quite a good idea to discuss the similarity and
    discrepancy of the wisdom between English idioms
    and Chinese idioms.
  • In terms of similarity, the article will deal
    with the beauty of language itself, contents,
    forms and the rhetoric devices. The discrepancy
    will be foucused on how culture has rendered
    distinctive features to idioms of this two

  • First, both the English and Chinese idioms are
    descriptive in their aim to convey meanings.
  • For instances, in English idioms, there are
    drink like a fish, as busy as a bee, eat
    like a horse.
  • In the same manner, Chinese idioms are also known
    for their hit-the-point magic. Some idioms go
    like ??????,????etc. These idioms, though in
    different language, do an excellent job in adding
    vivid images and stir further imagination from

  • Senond, both the EC idioms reflect the very
    beauty of its language.
  • Firstly, the use of alliteration is pervasive.
    E.g nothing venture, nothing have, in for a
    penny, in for a pound, as cool as cucumber
  • Its counterparts are also of frequent usage
    fair and square,A friend in need is a friend
    indeed, East and west, home is the best,
    wealth is better than health ??,??.
  • Secondly, superposition?? is frequently emplyed.
    step by step, an eye for an eye and a tooth
    for a tooth ???,???etc.
  • The idioms bearing the upper features sound more
    rththmic and feels much briefer, giving a full
    display of the beauty of both English and Chinese.

  • One gifted scholar once said that between two
    languages, generally, chances are against it that
    there is a equivalence of phrases and sentences,
    only a few exceptions. Idioms are just one of
    those One of the reasons to this are that huaman
    beings live on the same planet, confined to the
    same objective restrictions.
  • E.g to strike while the iron is hot????
    Like father, like son??????? Birds of a
    feather flock together????,???? the onlookers
    see most of the games????.
  • From these, it can be learned that there is a
    common bond in the sameness of the thoughts and
    emotions in human being of defferent parts in the

Rhetoric Devices
  • The rhetoric devices in EC idioms tell the same
    story and achieve the effecs all the same.
  • personification. E.g a walking dictionary,
    riches serve a wise man but command a fool. ,
    walls have ears In chinese, there are ????,
  • Contrast. E.g Art is long, Life is short, An
    optimist sees an opportunity in every calamity A
    pessimist sees a calamity in every opportunity.
    ????, ????. The use of contrast make the
    difference or opposition seem sharper and

  • Hyperbole. Idioms are rich in hyperbolic
    expressions full of emotional saturation which
    achieve the effect that is not real, yet better
    than reality. E.g Cowards die many times before
    their deaths, An unfortunate man would be
    drowned in a tea-cup. ??????? , ????.
  • Rhetoric devices used in the idioms add lust to
    the beauty of language, besides, they reveal to
    us that as far as literature is concerned, there
    are no boundary in idioms from different nations.

  • Language is a carrier of the culture in each
    nation. Fundamentally, the descrepancy between
    EC idioms is the result of cultural reasons.
  • Chinese Culture emphasize on argriculture which
    has raised generation after generation and is
    what our welfare is attached to.
  • Growing up in this land-foucused notion, chinese
    people have long been dedicated to their
    hometown, add to the fact that the weather is
    also land-friendly, they are able to feed
    themselves, as a result, the thoutht of expansion
    and invasion of other nations is never of their

  • Whereas the western history started when the
    ancestors discover and fight for their habitat by
    sailing in the sea, western people have a complex
    of marine culture.
  • During those tough periods of the struggle on and
    off the sea, western people formed their strong
    sense of controlness and invasion by force to
    expand their territory. Thus the western culture
    is marked by their appreciation for competition
    and enterprise.
  • The above differences leads to the cultural
    differences. They are geographic position,
    individual values, social mentality, ways of
    communication and expression.

  • Geographic Position. Most idioms bear the
    characteristic of its surrounding environment.
    Take Britain for example, because it is an island
    country, British people are fond of sailing by
    and off the sea, which is well expressed by many
    idioms like take some down a peg??, steer
    clear of??.
  • Whereas in an argricultural country like China,
    many of our idioms has the flavour of land.
  • Biological Environment breeds differece in
    idioms. As to the expression which means things
    that pop up everywhere, English use mushroom as
    in the spring up like mushroom, while Chinese
    refer them to Bamboo as in the ????. Both are
    vivid descriptions under each biological

Honesty Vs.Aggressiveness
  • Simplicity and Honesty have always been an innate
    temperament of chinese people. They worship
    politeness and sincerity and are ashamed by doing
    any wrongness to others, even they have good
    reasons. As a result, they regeard golden means
    as the highest cause. So there are idioms like
  • Aggressiveness shaped westerners' idea of
    pragmatism. They believe, beyond doubt that they
    are entitled to achieve goal by all means. There
    are idioms like All is fair in love and war, A
    bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

  • Because Chinese people have long placed emphasis
    on man proposes, god disposes, and they seek
    for the notion man in nature and nature in man
    which unfold our ideal that antithesis and
    wholeness are the inner features of every
  • Therefore, it goes the idea that nothing is
    perfect without being present in paris. E.g
  • In contrast, western culture prefers to break
    through symmetry. Their poems are more in modern
    stylewithout strict observance to requirement of
    rhythm and number of characters.
  • Of course, there are some exceptions, such as
    ups and downs, more haste, less speed, but
    these are minor compared with those majority free

  • Considering yin and yang that make up
    everything in chinese culture, one area of idioms
    that cannot be mentioned more is the number.
    Because of the yin and yang theory, the even
    numbers are the chinese people's favourite. They
    are firmly convinced that even numbers bear
    auspicious meaning and will bring them foutune
    and falware.
  • Chinese people have common wish that good fortune
    oneday will come in pairs as in ????.
    Youngsters often wish that everything will be ok
    by saying ????Businessmen commuting from place
    to place have ???? on their lips to wish for a
    smooth journey. Also, when the elders are darn
    proud of ????, they take pride that they
    offsprings are all over the world.

  • However, in western world, people are expecially
    fond of odd numbers, resulting from they belief
    that the world is composed of three parts sea,
    land and sky, while the nature are composed of
    animals, plants and minerals. Even in human, it
    is the trinity of body, soul and spirit. In
    addition to their beloved number 3, number 1 and
    7 also have sth to commend themselves.
  • Westerns tend to add 1 to big numbers, for
    example, a thousand and one job, one thousand
    and one thanks, 1 here indicates more, deeper,
    and stronger in degree.
  • Number 7 is westerners' another favourite child,
    for the simple reason that it takes God 7 days to
    creat their world. Idioms like seven virtues,
    A man may lose more in an hour than he can get
    in seven.

  • Idioms are colourful. Their targeted meaning has
    also been affected by the surrounding tradions,
    mentality, religion, and values.
  • Despite the fact that a single colour can trigger
    diversified associations in peoples mind, one
    thing is certain, the primary colours in the two
    nations are generally the same.
  • They are red, orange, yellow, green, blue,
    indigo, violet.(???????). But this sameness is
    only at the superfacial level, exploring deep, we
    can find the whole truth. The following graph is
    just one brief glimpse of the most palpable

  • Black in both languages indicates illegalness and
    sadness. Black list ???
  • white in English indicates innocence and honesty
    while in Chinese, it means voidness and nothing.
    White hands??
  • Though green in both languages indicates
    freshness, only English use it to modify memory
    To keep one's memory green????

  • Red in Chinese bear commentory meanings such as
    auspicion,foutune,vigor,revolution,etc. whereas
    in Enlish, it often indicates aggression,cruelty,j
    eopardy and wrath
  • Red flag/ red hands/ in the red/ see red
  • ???/????/??/??.

  • Chinese people associate white with death and
    funeralEnglishmen see sincerity,solemn and
    purity in white.
  • White lies?????
  • Monarch in China wears in yellow, while their
    counterparts in English wears in purple.
  • Born in the purple?????????

  • Green in Chinese is associated with spring,hope
    and birth. In English, it means inexperienced and
  • Green hand, green-eyed, be green at??/??/?..???

  • The discrepancy between English and Chinese
    idioms lies deep in the cultural difference. This
    article should be an enlightment to us all that
    when learning English idioms, we are supposed to
    bear the cultural background in mind so as to
    acquire better learning.
  • Moreover, the study of both E/C idioms shed
    lights for our studying of the thinking mode of
    both languages, which is of central essence for
    our learning purpose.

2008?12? ???