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Language is prominent in daily life. Without language, society cannot
develop. In detail, language is an essential tool in every activity: politics,
economy, education, etc. Nowadays, the more society develops, the more
social activities are, and as a result, the more diverse language is.
Everything has two sides, language is not an exception. On one side,
language makes society develop, on other side, language diversity is also
barrier of development. Each country has its own language; even one
country has many different languages. To break the disadvantages of
language barrier and as result of politic and economic domi nance of
English empiricism in the past, English has been considered ―the world’s
language‖.
Learning English as ESL, learners have many difficulties; one of them is
learning English idioms. Idiom is common part of language, native
speakers like to use idioms in communication so frequently that they even
do not realize while using them. One of the key to speaking, writing like a
native is the ability to use and understand casual expressions or idioms.
English is full of idioms. You will not learn these expressions in a standard
textbook, but you hear them all the time in everyday conversation. You
also meet them in books, newspapers, magazines, TV shows, and on the
internet. Idioms add color to the language, learning idioms is really a
challenge for English learners, however.

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1
BỘ GIÁO DỤC VÀ ĐÀO TẠO
TRƯỜNG ĐẠI HỌC DÂN LẬP HẢI PHÒNG
——————————-
ISO 9001 : 2008
KHÓA LUẬN TỐT NGHIỆP
NGÀNH: TIẾNG ANH
HẢI PHÒNG – 2012
2
HAIPHONG PRIVATE UNIVERSITY
FACULTY OF FOREIGN LANGUAGES
———————————–
ISO 9001 : 2008
GRADUATION PAPER
A STUDY ON BUSINESS IDIOMS RELATING TO
SPECIFIC BUSINESS ACTIVITIES
By:
BUI THI HA
Class:
NA 1201
Supervisor:
DANG THI VAN.MA
HAI PHONG – 2012
3
BỘ GIÁO DỤC VÀ ĐÀO TẠO
TRƯỜNG ĐẠI HỌC DÂN LẬP HẢI PHÒNG
————————————–
Nhiệm vụ đề tài tốt nghiệp
Sinh viên: ……………………………………………………Mã số:……………………….
Lớp: ………………………..Ngành:…………………………………………………………..
Tên đề tài: …………………………………………………………………………………….
……………………………………………………………………………………..
…………………………………………………………………………………….
……………………………………………………………………………………..
4
Nhiệm vụ đề tài
1. Nội dung và các yêu cầu cần giải quyết trong nhiệm vụ đề tài tốt nghiệp
( về lý luận, thực tiễn, các số liệu cần tính toán và các bản vẽ).
..
..
..
..
..
..
..
..
2. Các số liệu cần thiết để thiết kế, tính toán.
..
..
..
..
..
..
..
..
..
3. Địa điểm thực tập tốt nghiệp.
..
..
..
5
CÁN BỘ HƯỚNG DẪN ĐỀ TÀI
Người hướng dẫn thứ nhất:
Họ và tên:…………………………………………………………………………………
Học hàm, học vị:………………………………………………………………………..
Cơ quan công tác:………………………………………………………………………
Nội dung hướng dẫn:………………………………………………………………….
Người hướng dẫn thứ hai:
Họ và tên:…………………………………………………………………………………
Học hàm, học vị:………………………………………………………………………..
Cơ quan công tác:………………………………………………………………………
Nội dung hướng dẫn:………………………………………………………………….
Đề tài tốt nghiệp được giao ngày tháng năm 2012
Yêu cầu phải hoàn thành xong trước ngày tháng năm 2012
Đã nhận nhiệm vụ ĐTTN Đã giao nhiệm vụ ĐTTN
Sinh viên Người hướng dẫn
Hải Phòng, ngày tháng năm 2012
HIỆU TRƯỞNG
GS.TS.NGƯT Trần Hữu Nghị
6
PHẦN NHẬN XÉT TÓM TẮT CỦA CÁN BỘ HƯỚNG DẪN
1. Tinh thần thái độ của sinh viên trong quá trình làm đề tài tốt nghiệp:
..
..
..
..
..
..
..
..
2. Đánh giá chất lượng của khóa luận (so với nội dung yêu cầu đã đề ra trong
nhiệm vụ Đ.T. T.N trên các mặt lý luận, thực tiễn, tính toán số liệu):
..
..
..
..
..
..
..
..
..
3. Cho điểm của cán bộ hướng dẫn (ghi bằng cả số và chữ):
..
..
..
Hải Phòng, ngày .. tháng .. năm 2012
Cán bộ hướng dẫn
(họ tên và chữ ký)
7
NHẬN XÉT ĐÁNH GIÁ
CỦA NGƯỜI CHẤM PHẢN BIỆN ĐỀ TÀI TỐT NGHIỆP
1. Đánh giá chất lượng đề tài tốt nghiệp về các mặt thu thập và phân tích tài liệu,
số liệu ban đầu, giá trị lí luận và thực tiễn của đề tài.
2. Cho điểm của người chấm phản biện :
(Điểm ghi bằng số và chữ)
Ngày………. tháng……… năm 2012
Người chấm phản biện
8
Acknowledgements
I am extremely grateful to all of the people for helping me to finish my
graduation paper.
Firstly of all, I wish to express my sincere thanks and deepest gratitude to
my supervisor- Ms. Dang Thi Van for her whole- hearted guidance and
valuable suggestion during the process of doing this research.
Additionally, I am also grateful to all of the teachers of Faculty Of Foreign
Languages of HaiPhong Private University for their enthusiastic assistance
during the time I studied at the university.
I wish to forward my special thanks to my parents and my friends for
whatever they support and encourage me both mentally and physically in
this time.
I am fully aware that shortcomings and mistakes are inevitable in my
research. Any comment and suggestion would be highly appreciated for the
perfect of my own research.
Hai phong, June, 2012
Bui Thi Ha
9
Table of contents
Acknowledgements
Part one- Introduction
1. Rationale. …………………………………………………………………………… 1
2. Aims of the study ………………………………………………………………… 2
3. Scope of the study ……………………………………………………………….. 2
4. Methods of the study. ………………………………………………………….. 2
5. Design of the study. …………………………………………………………….. 3
Part two- Development
Chapter I: Theoretical background.
I.1. Idioms
I.1.1. Definitions ……………………………………………………………………… 4
I.1.2. Functions of idioms. ………………………………………………………… 7
I.1.3. Common features of idioms ……………………………………………… 10
I.2. Business idioms
I.2.1. An overview of business idioms ………………………………………… 13
I.2.2. Classification of business idioms. ……………………………………… 14
Chapter II: A study on business idioms relating to specific business
activities.
II.1. Business idioms relating to producing. …………………………….. 30
II.2. Business idioms relating to buying. ………………………………….. 33
II.3. Business idioms relating to selling. …………………………………… 38
II.4. Business idioms relating to negotiating. ……………………………. 41
Chapter III: Implication
III.1. Some difficulties faced by learners of English when studying
idioms in general and business idioms in particular. ……………….. 46
III.2. Suggested solutions. ……………………………………………………….. 47
10
Part three- Conclusion ……………………………………………………………. 49
References ……………………………………………………………………………… 50
Appendixes …………………………………………………………………………….. 52
11
Part one: Introduction.
1. Rationale.
Language is prominent in daily life. Without language, society cannot
develop. In detail, language is an essential tool in every activity: politics,
economy, education, etc. Nowadays, the more society develops, the more
social activities are, and as a result, the more diverse language is.
Everything has two sides, language is not an exception. On one side,
language makes society develop, on other side, language diversity is also
barrier of development. Each country has its own language; even one
country has many different languages. To break the disadvantages of
language barrier and as result of politic and economic dominance of
English empiricism in the past, English has been considered ―the world’s
language‖.
Learning English as ESL, learners have many difficulties; one of them is
learning English idioms. Idiom is common part of language, native
speakers like to use idioms in communication so frequently that they even
do not realize while using them. One of the key to speaking, writing like a
native is the ability to use and understand casual expressions or idioms.
English is full of idioms. You will not learn these expressions in a standard
textbook, but you hear them all the time in everyday conversation. You
also meet them in books, newspapers, magazines, TV shows, and on the
internet. Idioms add color to the language, learning idioms is really a
challenge for English learners, however.
Recognizing the importance of business in modern world as well as using
business idioms in business activities, I am particularly interested in
business idioms during my study in university. As in Oxford dictionary,
business is the activity of making, selling, buying, supplying goods or
services, etc. It is obvious that business is complicated, diverse field.
12
Similarly, business idioms are also diverse as business activities. As said
above, natives like to use idioms, therefore, to understand and have success
in business, proper use of idioms is one of the most important factors.
For my money, in the future, I myself take part in business activities as
translator and interpreter, good knowledge of idioms is favorable condition
in work. My study on business idioms relating to specific business
activities is an excellent chance to diversify and improve my knowledge of
English idioms.
2. Aims of the study.
Being aware of the fact that idioms are an extremely difficult topic and
merely well- understood by foreign English learners and even if native
speakers of English who take the idioms for granted because when they use
idioms, they do not know that they are using them. This study focuses on
following aims:
– Widening the English vocabulary of business field.
– Helping the learners use right idioms in relevant situations.
– Raising the learners’ awareness of the importance business idioms and
their effects on communication.
3. Scope of the study.
Idioms are treasure of each country and all that I know about idioms is very
little. Due to time frame and limited knowledge, in this paper, I am only
concerned with theoretical background of idioms and English idioms
relating to several specific business activities (buying, selling, producing
and negotiating).
4. Methods of the study.
In order to study English idioms in general and business idioms in
particular, I have applied following methods:
Having discussion with supervisors, experts and friends.
13
Collecting books studying on language to improve the knowledge and
have reliable citations.
Accessing internet or reference in workbook, dictionary and search
libraries.
5. Design of the study.
This paper provides a clear organization consisting three main parts that
help an easy exploration and practical benefits gained for readers as well.
Part one is the introduction, which includes rational, scope of the study,
aims of the study, method of study and design of the study.
Part two is the development, which consists of three chapters as following:
Chapter1: Theoretical background, dealing with idioms of definition and
common features, overviews of business activities and business idioms.
Chapter2: Business idioms relating to specific business activities: buying,
selling, producing and negotiating.
Part three is conclusion, which restates the knowledge mentioned through
two chapters above. A suggestion for further research on idioms is also
provided in this part.
14
Part two- Development
Chapter I: Theoretical background
I.1. Idioms
I.1.1. Definitions of idiom
There are hundreds of languages all over the world, each nation has its own
language, and even one nation has many different languages. Language is
complicated field, all its component too. Idiom is not an exception. It is
easy to meet idioms in all fields of the life: economy, polity, arts, etc.
However, have you ever taken ―What is an idiom?‖ under consideration?
 “Idiom is a group of words whose meaning is different from the
meanings of the individual words”.
Hornby (2005) – P. 770
We can see that the definition of idiom in Oxford Advanced Learners’
Dictionary is so clear and understandable. In construction, English idiom is
not one word but ―a group of words‖. The number of words of an idiom is
not limited. An idiom can contain two words:
 ―To date‖ (until now),
 ―Time flies‖ (time seems to pass very quickly),
 ―Money talks‖ (people who have a lot of money have more power and
influence than others),
Three words:
 ―True to form‖ (used to say that somebody behaving in the way that
you expect them to behave, especially when this is annoying),
 ―An object lesson‖ (used o express surprise at something new or
unexpected you have been told),
15
In meaning, the meaning of idiom is different from the meaning of the
individual words, it is impossible for us to deduce the true meaning by
looking up separated word in dictionary.
For example:
 ― To stay ahead of the game‖, a listener only know the meanings of ―
stay ahead‖ and ― game‖ and would unable to deduce the expression’s true
meaning ― be the most successful in an industry‖. ―The game‖ is not a
normal entertainment, but ―an industry.‖
 ―Big cheese‖, immediately in our mind appears the image of a big
piece of a type of food made from milk that can be either soft or hard and
usually white or yellow in color. It is literal meaning, the true meaning is
different- ―humorous way of referring to an important, powerful person in
an organization‖.
Besides, there are also vast definitions of English idioms from various
sources as well- known books, language researches, etc.
 ―An idiom is an expression not readily analyzable from its
grammatical construction or from the meaning of its component parts. It is
the part of the distinctive form or construction of a particular language that
has a specific form or style present only in that language.‖
The New International Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary
 ―An idiom is an expression whose meaning is not predictable, from
the usual grammatical rules of a language or from the usual meanings of its
constituent elements.‖
Random House Webster’s College Dictionary
―Not readily analyzable‖ in The New International Webster’s Collegiate
Dictionary and ―not predictable‖ in Random House Webster’s College
Dictionary are similar, that is distinctive feature of English idioms.
Some others found on internet:
16
 ―An idiom is an expression, word, or phrase that has a figurative
meaning that is comprehended in regard to a common use of that
expression that is separate from the literal meaning or definition of the
words of which it is made. There are estimated to be at least 25,000
idiomatic expressions in the English language.
(
 ―An idiom is a figure of speech that does not have the obvious
presented meaning.‖
(
 ―An idiom is a turn of phrase that is usually very language- specific.‖
(www.wisegeek.com/what-is-an-idiom.htm)
 ―Idiom is an expression that means something other than the literal
meanings of its individual words.‖
(
 ―An idiom is a combination of words that has a meaning that is
different from the meanings of the individual words themselves. It can have
a literal meaning in one situation and a different idiomatic meaning in
another situation. It is a phrase which does not always follow the normal
rules of meaning and grammar.‖
(
In Vietnamese Dictionary, the definition of idiom is explained with the
same opinion:
 ―Thành ngữ là một tập hợp từ đã quen dùng mà nghĩa thường không
giải thích được một cách đơn giản bằng nghĩa thường của các từ tạo nên
nó‖
As can be seen from the above definitions, there are different ways of
defining an idiom. In general, most of the linguists share the same point
17
that an idiom is a fixed expression whose meaning cannot be worked out by
looking at the meaning of its individual words.
I.2.2. Functions of idioms
Idioms may play different roles. They are used to name objects, actions or
describe situations. They may express certain generalizations, advice, make
evaluation, emphasize…
I.2.2.1. To name objects:
 ―A lemon‖ (Huyen, p. 90): something that does not work (usually an
electrical appliance or mechanical item).
Eg: This car is a lemon. It has broken down 5 times since we bought it last
month.
 -―White elephant‖ (Hornby, p.1741): a thing that is useless and no
longer needed, although it may have cost a lot of money.
Eg: The new office block has become an expensive white elephant.
 The apple of one’s eye (Huyen, p.90): a person or thing that is loved
more than any other.
Eg: He odors his little daughter- she is the apple of his eye.
I.2.2.2. To name actions:
 ―To keep one’s nose clean” (Huyen, p.76): to avoid doing anything
wrong or illegal.
Eg: Since leaving the prison, he has managed to keep his nose clean.
 ―To hit the hay” (Huyen, p.63): to go to bed
Eg: He usually hits the hay right after back home at night.
 ―To eat one’s word‖ (Huyen, p.139): to admit that what somebody
said was wrong.
18
Eg: After predicting disastrous results, he had to eat his words with the
success of the new product.
I.2.2.3. To describe situation:
 ―On the horns of a dilemma‖ (Hornby, p.751): in a situation in which
you have to make a choice between things that are equally unpleasant
Eg: Be careful! You are on the horns of a dilemma.
 ―Dog eats dog” (Hornby, p.451): a situation in business, politics…
where there are a lot of competition and people are willing to harm each
other in order to succeed.
Eg: I am afraid in this line of work it is a case of dog eat dog.
 ―The blind leading the blind‖ (Hornby, p.151): a situation in which
people with almost no experience or knowledge to give advice to others
who also have no experience or knowledge.
Eg: They are the blind leading the blind.
In relation to words, within the group of idioms, we can refer to idioms
equivalent to single words. They may be replaced by a single word (of
course= certainly, kick the bucket= die, in the family way= pregnant). They
may also correspond to non- idiomatic phrases (collocations: a big fish= an
important person, as red as a turkey coke= very angry), or they may be
correlated with approximate description (have green fingers= have natural
ability in growing plants).
Idioms correlate with word classes (parts of speech). They may be divided
into noun, verbal, adjectival and adverbial idioms, etc.
 ―Drunk as lords‖ (adj): After his fifth cocktail, Michael was as drunk
as a lord.
(
19
 ―At all cost” (adv): I intend to have that car at all costs.
(
 ―A piece of cake” (n): No problem. When you know what you’re
doing, it’s a piece of cake.
 ―Run like clockwork‖ (v): I want this office to run like clockwork—
with everything on time and everything done right.
(
From the pragmatic point of view and discourse, some linguists, including
Fernando (1996) speak about:
 ―Ideational‖ idioms (―the state and way of the world‖ idioms,
expressing namely: actions, events, situations, people, things, attitudes,
emotions…): red herring, bury the hatchet, as white as a sheet.
 ―Interpersonal‖ idioms (expressing greeting, agreement, rejections…):
so long, never mind.
 ―Relational‖ idioms (ensuring cohesion…): by the way, in addition to,
last but not least
Another linguist named Moon (1998) based on functions of idioms,
distinguishes the following groups of idioms:
 Informational (conveying information of different kind): in the red,
rub shoulders with, one’s kith and kin.
 Evaluative (giving the speaker’s attitude to the situation): works
wonders, wash one’s hands of something, a different kettle of fish.
 Situational (expressing conventions, clauses, exclamation, relating to
extra lingual context): walls have ears, so long, take of the devil, long time
no see
 Moralizing (expressing modality, truth values, advice, request): mark
my words, more or

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