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Nowadays, English is one of the most widely used languages in the world
and plays an important role together with the development of society and
technologies. English is not only an effective means of communication but
also show its progressive effects in many aspects of life. As an English-majored student, study on the similarities and differences between the two
languages and cultures, English and Vietnamese has been one of my concerns
when studying at university. There are many differences between two
languages, they are differences in grammar, lexicology, translation, phonetics
and so on. However, there still exist plenty of similarities and differences
between English and Vietnamese that can be demonstrated through
metaphorical meaning especially in literature, idioms expression.

de_tai_a_study_on_english_idioms_relating_to_people_descript

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BỘ GIÁO DỤC VÀ ĐÀO TẠO
TRƯỜNG ĐẠI HỌC DÂN LẬP HẢI PHÒNG
——————————
ISO 9001 : 2008
KHÓA LUẬN TỐT NGHIỆP
NGÀNH: NGOẠI NGỮ
HẢI PHÒNG – 2010
HAIPHONG PRIVATE UNIVESITY
FOREIGN LANGUAGES DEPARTMENT
———————————–
GRADUATION PAPER
A STUDY ON ENGLISH IDIOMS RELATING TO PEOPLE
DESCRIPTION
By:
Đào Thị Kim Phượng
Class:
Na1001
Supervisor:
Nguyễn Thị Yến Thoa, M.A
HAI PHONG – 2010
BỘ GIÁO DỤC VÀ ĐÀO TẠO
TRƯỜNG ĐẠI HỌC DÂN LẬP HẢI PHÒNG
————————————–
Nhiệm vụ đề tài tốt nghiệp
Sinh viên:……………………………………………………Mãsố:……………………….
Lớp:………………………..Ngành:…………………………………………………………
..
Tên đề tài: …………………………………………………………………………………….
………………………………………………………………………………….
………………………………………………………………………………….
………………………………………………………………………………….

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.
..
..
..
..
..
..
..
..
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3. Địa điểm thực tập tốt nghiệp.
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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 12 tháng 04 năm 2010
Yêu cầu phải hoàn thành xong trước ngày 10 tháng 07 năm 2010
Đã nhận nhiệm vụ ĐTTN Đã giao nhiệm vụ ĐTTN
Sinh viên Người hướng dẫn
Hải Phòng, ngày tháng năm 2010
HIỆU TRƯỞNG
GS.TS.NGƯT Trần Hữu Nghị
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:
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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 2010
Cán bộ hướng dẫn
(họ tên và chữ ký)
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 2010
Người chấm phản biện
Acknowledgements
During the process of my implementing research paper, I have been
lucky to receive a lot of assistance, guidance and encouragement from many
people
First of all, I would like to express my thanks to my supervisor, Mrs
Nguyen Thi Yen Thoa, MA; for her suggestions, guidance, and all the
valuable materials she has supported me. I also whole- heartedly thank all of
teachers in foreign language department of Hai Phong Private University,
providing materials for this study and having taught me through four years of
university.
Last but not least, I am really in debt to my family and all my friends
for all they have done for me with the encouraging, supporting and being
variable well spring of ideas for entries. The completion and success of my
research paper would not be achieved without their help.
Hai Phong, June 2010
Student
Dao Thi Kim Phuong
Table of contents
Acknowledgements
Part I: Introduction ……………………………………………….. 1
1. Rationale ………………………………………………………………………………… 1
2. Scope of the study ……………………………………………………………………. 2
3. Aims of the study …………………………………………………………………….. 2
4. Methods of the study ………………………………………………………………… 3
5. Design of the study ………………………………………………………………….. 3
Part II: Development ………………………………………………. 4
Chapter 1: General theoretical background on
Idioms in English ……………………………………………………………………. 4
I. An overview of idioms ……………………………………………………………. 4
1. What are idioms ? ……………………………………………………………………. 4
2. Some common features of idioms ………………………………………………. 6
3. Types of idioms ……………………………………………………………………….. 7
4. Idioms versus compounds …………………………………………………………. 8
5. Idioms versus proverbs …………………………………………………………….. 9
Chapter 2: English idioms describing people …………… 11
I.English idioms describing people ……………………………………………… 11
1.English idioms describing people’s appearance ………………….. 12
1.1. “In bad shape” ………………………………………………………………… 12
1.2. “Hale and hearty” ……………………………………………………………. 13
1.3. “Bag of bones” ……………………………………………………………….. 13
1.4. “Like chalk and cheese” ………………………………………………….. 15
1.5. “Dressed to kill” ……………………………………………………………… 15
1.6. “Look a sight” ………………………………………………………………… 16
1.7. “As fresh as a daisy” ……………………………………………………….. 16
2.English idioms describing people’s moods …………………………… 17
2.1.“Face like thunder” ………………………………………………………… 17
2.2.“Tongue-tied” ………………………………………………………. 18
2.3.“Face like a wet weekend” …………………………………………….. 19
2.4.“Old head on young shoulders” ……………………………………….. 20
2.5.“Doubting Thomas” ……………………………………………………….. 21
2.6.“Tongue and cheek” ………………………………………………………. 21
2.7.“All ears” ……………………………………………………………………… 22
2.8.“Nose out of joint” …………………………………………………………. 23
3. English idioms describing people’s characters ………………… 24
3.1.Positive characters ……………………………………………………….. 25
3.1.1. “As cool as cucumber” ………………………………………….. 25
3.1.2.“Grin and bear it” …………………………………………………… 26
3.1.3. “Spick and span” …………………………………………………… 27
3.1.4“Nice as pie” …………………………………………………………… 28
3.1.5.“Bury the hatchet” ………………………………………………….. 29
3.1. Negative characters ……………………………………………………….. 30
3.1.1. “A fair-weather friend” …………………………………………… 30
3.1.2. “A fly in ointment” ………………………………………………… 31
3.1.3. “Loose cannon” …………………………………………………….. 32
3.1.4. “As sly as a fox” ……………………………………………………. 32
3.1.5. “Holier-than-thou” …………………………………………………. 33
Chapter 3: Some difficulties faced by Vietnamese
learners of English in studying idioms describing
people ………………………………………………………………………………………… 35
I. Some difficulties in studying idioms describing people ………….. 35
II. Suggested solutions ……………………………………………………………… 35
III. Exercises for practice …………………………………………………………… 36
Part III: Conclusion ………………………………………………… 39
References
Appendices
1
PART I: Introduction
1. Rationale
Nowadays, English is one of the most widely used languages in the world
and plays an important role together with the development of society and
technologies. English is not only an effective means of communication but
also show its progressive effects in many aspects of life. As an English-
majored student, study on the similarities and differences between the two
languages and cultures, English and Vietnamese has been one of my concerns
when studying at university. There are many differences between two
languages, they are differences in grammar, lexicology, translation, phonetics
and so on. However, there still exist plenty of similarities and differences
between English and Vietnamese that can be demonstrated through
metaphorical meaning especially in literature, idioms expression.
The research of English idioms has been traditionally associated with the
study of literature, the use of idioms and is not restricted to this kind of
language. A perfect understanding of how idioms are used in daily life
language is not only important for English students to improve their
vocabulary, but also to understand new and original idioms when we hear and
use them in daily life.
But, what the author wants to express here is that idioms are the precious
treasure of national languages that is the key to help learners know about
nation, as well as custom and culture of each country all over the world.
Therefore, it is the motivation to me to study idioms relating people
description that have made a deep expression on me for a long time because,
the author herself find it so interesting and useful. Most languages make use
of idioms but the way individual words used varies from one language to
another and each language has its own system and that they cannot always
transfer the metaphorical use of a word from one language to another.
Idioms help learners see the interest, the beauty as well as the cultural color of
language which help us use and understand correctly and clearly. The author
hopes that learners will understand about idioms and proverbs in English
special idioms relating to people description that is also the main reason
motivating me to implement this research.
2. Scope of the study
During the researching process, the author sees that English idioms, proverbs
and expression about people description are an interesting subject. Idioms and
proverbs are a treasure of each country. Because of its immensity, what know
about them is very little. Due to time allowance and limited knowledge, the
author cannot cover all idioms on these issues, this study only focuses on
idioms describing people description, typical idioms about people’s
appearance, people’s moods and people’s characters.
3. Aims of the study
Idioms are extremely difficult topic and merely well-understand by foreign
English learners and even if native speakers of English who take the idioms
and proverbs for granted because when they use idioms, they do not know
what they are using them. However, appreciate the idioms associated to
attitude and behavior of the speakers. So when they hear foreigners make
grammatical or pronunciation mistakes, they are quite willing to accept and
understand them, they might not understand what that person means and that
leads to a misunderstanding and boring conversation. Therefore, my study is
aimed at:
 Clarifying meanings of English idioms expressing.
 Helping the learners use right idioms in right situations.
 Comparing and contrasting the meaning and usage of some certain
English idioms about people description with Vietnamese ones to find the
similarities and differences, so that readers can understand more about
culture, society, as well as people of these two countries.
4. Methods of the study
In order to study English idioms relating to people description and
Vietnamese equivalence better, with a hope that learners could see the role of
idioms in life, the following methods are used in the studying process:
 The first is to having discussion with the supervisor, experts and
friends.
 Besides, idioms were collected from dictionary and other sources of
information to get valuable knowledge for this paper.
 Finally, the author will analyze and compare these idioms.
5. Design of the study
This paper gives a clear and brief organization including three main parts that
contribute to an easy understanding and practical benefits gained for readers:
Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: Development
 Chapter 1: Theoretical background on English idioms; some
definitions of idioms, how idioms versus compounds, proverbs
 Chapter 2: English idioms describing people. In this chapter, some
certain idioms are analyzed according to people’s appearance, people’s moods
and people’s characters.
 Chapter 3: Some difficulties for learners of English in studying
idioms describing people, suggested solutions and exercises for practice.
Part 3: Conclusion
– Conclusion which summaries and restates the issues mentioned
through three chapters above.
Part II: Development
Chapter 1: General theoretical background
on Idioms in English
I. An overview of idioms
Before researching in detail the use and the meaning of idioms relating to
people description, it is important to understand the history and the use of
idioms in daily life. Idioms are considered as special units of each language.
If English is not your first language, you should not be upset if you find
yourself stumped when you hear something you respect, especially if it is an
idiomatic expression. Learning about English idiomatic expressions will not
only expose you to these “life lessons”, but it will enrich your command of
the English language
Often, they offer advice or suggestions on better ways in which to live or
interact with others. For this reason, the cryptic nature of idioms contributes
to their depth, and significance. Telling someone to simply “think
innovatively” might not be as effective as rehearsing the idiom “put the cart
before the horse”
Idioms require a moment of hesitation, to ponder their meaning. Once the
underlying message behind an idiom emerges, it causes one to pause and
consider the truth behind the saying. The more familiar with idiomatic
expressions you become, the more likely you can incorporate them in to your
own English writing and speech- should you find an appealing situation in
which to use one. They are often impressive and enjoyable to share.
Idioms honestly and exactly reflect history, experience, spiritual value,
religious opinion of people.
1. What are idioms?
It is important to recognize that idioms are not only colloquial expression as
many people believe. Idioms as a special form of language that carries a large
amount of cultural information, such as history, geography, religious, custom,
thinking pattern and so on. They appear in formal style, in slang, in poetry,
To research idioms, first of all, we must understand what an idiom is? This is
the old theme that we discuss it. Because to define the idiom exactly is a
difficult question. In the definition of idioms, some scholars emphasize on the
quantity of structure in idioms. That is to say how many language units to
constitute the idioms? Is it except the phrases, words group, and words or
sentences also can make up to the idioms? Others emphasize the single
meanings of idioms it refers that the idiom’s meaning is arbitrary. The
idiom’s meanings cannot synthesize or cut apart. Different people hold the
different opinions on the definition of idioms; they have different local points
on the definition of idiom. So we must understand the definition of idioms
exactly through the research.
Although we are unlikely to give an ideal definition to the idioms, but we
should give a better definition of idioms before the research.
“An idiom is an expression with the following features: It is fixed and is
recognized by native speakers. You cannot make up your own; It uses
language in a non-literal-metaphorical- way”.
(Jon Wright: Idioms organizer:2000:9)
Idioms are phrases that do not mean exactly what they say. They have
“hidden” meanings, like the idiom “to let the cat out of the bag” really means
“to tell a secret”. Idioms are like sayings.
An idioms is a group of words in current usage having a meaning that is not
deducible from those of the individual words.
Eg:
“A couch potato”- which means “someone who sits on a sofa or couch for
several hours watching TV” is an idiom; and “a big shot”- means “an
important or influential person”- is another idiom, in both cases, we would
have a hard time to understand the real meaning if we did not already know
these idioms
According to online dictionary Wikipedia:
“An idiom is an expression whose meaning is not compositional – that is
whose meaning does not follow from the meaning of which it is composed”
Idioms are also defined as:
“Idiom is a set expression of two or more words that means something other than
the literal meanings of its individual words”
(Oxford advanced learner’s dictionary:2000:564)
Eg: Give a clown your finger and he will take your hand
Fortune favors the brave
Twiddle one’s thumbs
There are many definitions of idiom in our society. In short, the idioms
consist of set phrases and short sentences, which are peculiar to the language
in question and steeped in the national and religion, culture and ideas, thus
being colorful, forcible and thought – provoking. Strictly speaking, idioms are
expressions that are not readily understandable from their literal meanings of
individual constituents. In a broad sense, idioms may include colloquialism,
catchphrases, slang expressions, proverbs and so on.
2. Some common features of idioms
There are many different definitions of idioms; however, we will find some
similarities between them:
Structurally, an idiom is an multiword expression. Individual components of
an idiom can often be inflected in the same way individual words in a phrase
can be inflected. This inflection usually follows the same pattern of inflection
as the idiom’s literal counterpart:
Eg: jump down one’s throat
He jumps my throat
 An idio

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