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Idiomatic Expressions In British And American English: A Contrastive Analysis

Idioms are an important part of the colloquial language. Even if people are not aware of it, they are used very frequently in everyday speech and very often, when people have a conversation, they can be used without noticing them. For this reason idiomatic expressions have been object of several studies among linguists for the last decades.
This work is going to give an analysis of the idiomatic expressions in British and American English, since these two countries, and more specifically their languages, are in a continuous relationship of comparison and contrast. The first chapter of this work will be concentrated on the linguistic study of idioms: first of all a definition of this particular form of speech (including the difference between ‘idiomatically combining expressions’ and ‘idiomatic phrases’) will be given, then the chapter will go on to develop their main properties (including conventionality, inflexibility, figuration and informality), and follow with the semantic analysis of idiomatically combining expressions and on the way speakers interpret their meanings. Two paragraphs will focus on the relationship between idioms and ‘dead’ metaphors and idioms and collocations.
The second chapter will focus mainly on the analysis between Great Britain and the United States: the history and the development of the language (especially the development of the lexicon) in the two countries will be analyzed. Greater attention will be spent on discussing about the contrastive yet cooperative relationship between the two linguistic variants: even though Americans and British do not feel a particular affection for the other linguistic variant, American and British English often have a big influence towards each other, especially as far as the lexicon is concerned, as already mentioned above (mainly United States towards Britain). Since idioms are part of the colloquial language, a paragraph will be dedicated to the study of non Standard English, and more specifically slang. Slang is a form of colloquial language that has spread in Great Britain and America. As regards the first, attention will be placed on cockney and London slang, whereas as regards the United States, attention will be placed upon the birth of slang in a big city (such as New York City). A description of cant and argot (the two forms of language spoken by gangsters and criminals that are said to have originated slang) will be offered and then certain slang expressions that originated in New York City and that have spread across the whole country will be examined. The third chapter will focus on the analysis of idiomatic expressions in the two linguistic variants: more precisely, while the first chapter concentrates on a more generic and more linguistic analysis, this chapter will focus more on the semantic and cultural field. The first paragraphs will discuss the main semantic sources many English idiomatic expressions have originated from, like humble occupations, popular sports, the army, houses and buildings, kitchen and cooking and art and painting. Regarding the foreign influence, great importance will be given to idioms derived from the Bible (which are a vast number), from classical times and from other languages like French and Spanish. The last paragraph will be an analysis on the most important characteristics that many idioms have encountered in their diffusion in British and American: many of them originated in America (especially from the language of Indian Americans) and found a great diffusion also in Great Britain; others spread in both countries but with some slight differences (either in the grammar or in the lexicon) and others again that have the same form but a different usage in the two variants (even if there are not many of them).

Mostra/Nascondi contenuto.
UNIVERSITA’ DEGLI STUDI DI MILANO Facoltà di Lettere e Filosofia CORSO DI LAUREA TRIENNALE IN LINGUE E LETTERATURE STRANIERE Idiomatic Expression in British and American English: A contrastive analysis Prova Finale di: Silvio Antonio Vico Matr. 642824 RELATORE: Laura Pinnavaia ANNO ACCADEMICO 2005/06

Tesi di Laurea

Facoltà: Lettere e Filosofia

Autore: Silvio Vico Contatta »

Composta da 42 pagine.


Questa tesi ha raggiunto 3906 click dal 05/01/2007.


Consultata integralmente 11 volte.

Disponibile in PDF, la consultazione è esclusivamente in formato digitale.