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English Idioms

Posted: Mon Oct 11, 2004 4:01 pm
by nikita
Hello there!

I've just had an idea of adding English Idioms topic to the Learning English forum. Since almost every day I discover something new about English idioms; and despite the fact that almost all native speakers at our May workshop said that in their view it IS NOT a good idea to teach idioms to the students of English, in my humble opinion, it is not quite right.

Yesterday I was quite surprised to learn that John, an American who works for International House Kharkov, had never heard "beating ABOUT the bush". He said that he'd heard only "to beat around the bush". As I learnt later it is just British and American English as usual (beat about the bush - Br; beat around the bush - Am), but I managed to find it only in the Activator, a part of Longman Contemporary English Electronic Dictionary.

By the way, here is the entry from Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English:

beat about/around the bush
to avoid or delay talking about something embarrassing or unpleasant
Don't beat around the bush. Ask for your account to be paid, and paid quickly.

beat about the bush
British /beat around the bush American [verb phrase] to avoid talking about the most important detail of something and talk about other details instead, because you are embarrassed, not confident etc

Don't beat about the bush - get to the point.
If you want to leave, just say so instead of beating around the bush.

I also think that I know quite nice synonym which isn't given in the Activator.

British English (in American English it has another meaning) - to "waffle" or "waffle on".

Any corrections or additions?

PS You may have heard this joke about George W. Bush beating about/around the bush. :)

Nikita Kovalyov


English Idioms

Posted: Tue Oct 12, 2004 3:04 pm
by Paul

Here is one for you. What does it mean when one student says to another:

"Hey, barn door is open!"

Let me know your response.


P.S. I agree with John, you should not teach idioms. But you can not speak the language with a native speaker without knowledge of some of them and the color the language and make it unique.

English Idioms

Posted: Tue Oct 12, 2004 3:05 pm
by Paul

A bolt out of the blue.

Don't go all technical on me.

I'm booked up.

He's pulling the plug.


English Idioms

Posted: Tue Oct 12, 2004 3:39 pm
by nikita
Hello Paul,

I will do my best to answer your emails today. Just a quick comment for now.

I agree with John, you should not teach idioms.
But you can not speak the language with a native
speaker without knowledge of some of them and
the color the language and make it unique.

Isn't there a bit of contradiction? :)

You can also write to the guys who make TOEFL, IELTS, FCE, GRE, etc and ask them to remove all idiomatic stuff from these exams and tests. :) The same thing applies to anything that native speakers write or say that might be read by not native speakers.

It wasn't John who objected teaching idioms. If fact, it was him who immediately taught me some idioms and started chatting about idiomatic expressions in Fahrenheit 9/11.

PS Only "A bolt out of the blue", "pull the plug", "be booked up" = "busy" are familiar to me.

I haven't met "Don't go all technical on me.", but I think I understand what it means. Let me check first. The same with "Hey, barn door is open!"


Nikita Kovalyov


barn door

Posted: Tue Nov 02, 2004 3:18 pm
by NyVlad
Hello Nikita, Paul and Sergey!
Hello to all the other snoopy faces here as well!
I have deciphered "barn door is open" expression finally, thanks to Urbandictionary project. It was quite educational yeah, thank you Paul :)
Turning back to the discussion of ideoms and is it a good idea to teach/learn them at all I would like to share with you a little story of embarassing moment of my icq friend which she had last night.

So yea... when i had the chance unconciously to make everyone laugh heartily happened during the choc fondue session where for some reason this little song came into the conversation.
Its goes something like this

I see Denmark i see France i see (put name here) 's underpants! there was a lil story with it that i wont go into and then someone pointed out that basically that meant that , (the persons who's name was mentioned) fly is low.
Josh then says in a silly low voice than in Illinois (where he is from) they say that the barn door is open for that.
And Allison then who was not following well or soemthing got confused and is all oh i thought u were talking about how u have to close the barn door so the cows cant come out and fly - as in run away or something. And since i have been to Josh's place in the states and seen his farm and barn i was all, they dont have cows! and then looking in Josh's direction.... I have a picture of your barn door! (which i do i went sorta camera fun crazy and took pictures of the barn and stuff cuz it looked so picture bookish. and anyways everyone totally cracks up! cuz i had also inadvertantly basically said i had a picture of his crotch ... barn door SIGH so yea. they all thought it was thoroughly hilarious hehe and it was funny but man! i have to watch what i say lol.

Here you are =) So I think its not that bad to know ideoms. At last it can prevent you from such sonfusing situations.

Take care!