Monday, 29 June 2015

Discussions--Series 15--ELT Professionals Around the World

Please visit Post 68 and then come back here. Thank you.

Discussions—Series Fifteen
Topic 52
Naghizade Mohammad phd candidate of Esfahan
Horse around
now the time of using horsing around to mean wasting time, i believe, has been finished. we had better use "driving around" to mean such a thing. now days horsing around is a great pleasure or exultation.

That is ridiculous! Horsing around comes from horses who are not calm, dancing about without going anywhere. Just like fooling or playing around doesn't accomplish anything. Horsing around doesn't mean just wasting time. One can be horsing around having fun yet still not accomplish anything. It still means the same thing. Doing something pleasurable or not and not accomplishing anything.
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Hey Naghizade, I think you have misunderstood the idiom. Like Judy said it is about horses fooling around in the paddock or being frivolous and fun loving when not working with people. Think about the horse's perspective!
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but don't you think at this time the idiom has to be changed. ?

No, Naghizade - it can't be changed - because it is based on the idea of horses playing around with each other, just like "kidding around" is based on baby goats playing, "mucking around" like little kids (or pigs) playing around in the "muck", and so on.

The concrete references of idioms are integral to their imagery.

"Driving around" likewise is based on its concretes - driving cattle, horses, cars, etc. around.
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the word horse should be changed, now days someone who horses around( i mean riding a horse around, its real meaning not idiomatic) has to pay lots of money. horse around can not be seen like fool around or muck around, we have to create a new idiom like rolling the drum(barrel), for example you can say do not stay there rolling the barrel, get to work please.

if it is so the idiom should be do not fool around like a horse. horse in this idiom is used as a verb

Rod, would you please have a glance at " a going over" discussion to see the definition i provide there, which Wong argue strongly against it, is correct or not.

a going over is exactly under this discussion

really? how is it possible?

Naghizade,
Are you suggesting that the English language should be changed so that idioms suit your personal understanding of them, or to rectify your inability to understand them?

Your description of idioms in another discussion says they are "formidable and disgusting". What new definition of 'disgusting' would you like to see the Oxford Dictionary add to its pages?
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idioms are different in terms of how we can understand them. now come to this idiom, i think on the basis of the time or era in which we are we have to change the language, not just english but all languages should change and will change. no one can prevent lg from changing. so this idiom. i think according to the existing circumstances has to change.

they are formidable and disgusting. here by disgusting, i do not mean formidable , i mean some idioms are hard to understand, so i consider them as hateful. in fact, as the result of being hard, they become hateful.

this is not what i say this is what many sociolinguistics scholars believe

Naghizade - horses have not changed their behaviour, and people who work with horses or who come from "horse" cultures have not changed their perceptions of horses.

The only way the idiom will change is when horses and the reference to horse changes.
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Laughed myself hoarse
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Languages do evolve by adding new expressions with new inventions etc. But to try to "adjust" a well known ( and understood) idiom to suit your own interpretation is absurd. Many of our idioms give us a glimpse into our history. The horse has benefited mankind throughout history and in most cultures. Please accept this expression for what it is. Horses are such a joy to watch as they interact in play with each other in their fields or in the wild. This is not rocket science. By the way, there are numerous references to horses and equine sport . You might wish to google a few.
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Language is a vast field of expression possibility.So either you make your way through the field and enjoy its flowers or leave the it if you do not have enough space for it in your mind.
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I agree with Jacqueline. Languages don't usually change because someone decides to change them. They are more organic than that. Every language has idioms that come into the language and stay or go depending on the culture's acceptance of them. We often don't know where the idioms came from without a bit of study, but we understand how to use them. Adults often use this idiom when children are being unruly like wrestling or causing a lot of commotion in the house. They often say, "Quit horsing around." The idea is that too much commotion is going to result in something getting broken or someone getting hurt, or the adult is annoyed by all the noise. Driving around is not the same meaning!
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I think people use the idioms that fit their context. Riding is still a very popular activity in the UK and also spectator sports with horses, so horses are part of the culture and are seen even in city parks. So UK English speakers use the expression quite commonly. We also use a lot of ship idioms (if you teach Business English, it sometimes seems like one big nautical metaphor!), because we all live within 100 miles of the sea (50 miles, in Scotland). However, I suspect people in the central parts of the USA or Canada might use these idioms more rarely, as they wouldn't have the immediacy of meaning. Naghizade, I think your fascination with idioms is giving us all a lot of interesting food for thought, but I think you have to keep the perspective that we don't all have to have a complete knowledge of English, even those who live in English-speaking countries. I am constantly being baffled by idioms I have never heard before, especially when I talk to my Californian cousin (and vice versa) and there are whole areas of vocabulary that are a complete blank to me. (Parts of cars and car racing vocabulary). I guess all languages have an enormous vocabulary and speakers never have more than a portion of it.
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how about picking the flowers?
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thanks jenifer, let me express my gratitude to all who contribute, i put my foot down and say the members of this group are the most knowledgeable ones. i have learned a lot from them. i also apologize to the manager/s for sending lots of idiom questions and make them have some changes in the setting of the forum(pending). i would also like to see you in other groups to comments about different topics and teach their members how to contribute. i usually ask questions a lot, so i need to put them in different groups, but their members are not as active as you are.
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You need not say horsing around, if you don't like it...

You can say fooling around, messing about, playing up, cutting loose, playing the fool, making whoopee, being silly, playing silly buggers etc; or you can make your own idiom like Maharaja-ing!

Translate one from your local language...

Why not.
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"a good going-over" - "cleaning" (going by what I can remember from Mohammad's question)

I mentioned somewhere that we can't trust dictionaries. They are constructed in ways that mean they can never capture the complete language - one main reason being they work by "translation" - by explaining a word by other words. The smaller the dictionary, the fewer other words are used until we get to the most ridiculous, minidictionaries where one word (like "rise") can be simply translated by another word (like "ascend").

This is even worse in bilingual dictionaries. All translators and interpreters know that a bilingual dictionary is a two-edged sword [a two edged-sword is dangerous for the wielder, because one side can always cut the wielder], as it is pretty rare for any word to have an exact equivalent in another language.

The ing-forms of verbs are nominals derived from a verb base. This means they fit in nominal "slots" in the clause - they can be nouns and/or adjectives. This is true even in the continuous/progressive (I am writing - "writing" is a nominal that makes a statement of the activity I am on/in.)

We have to be careful in this not to confuse the feeling of action we get with the sentence function. The feeling of action does not mean "verb" - it means "activity". in "skiing is a sport", we feel exactly the same type of feeling of action - but we know full well that "skiing" is a nominal. Adding prepostional phrases and so on doesn't change that: "skiing down mountain sides is his favourite way of letting off steam after a week of politics".

A "going" is an activity - "Going [to the station every morning by car] really bugs me". Nominals like "going" can be countable or uncountable according to semantic reference. In the sentence I just gave, it is uncountable.

"Going-over" is a compound, and compounds are notoriously complex. Literally any two or more words can be compounded regardless of what type of words they are. There are rules, however these are on the whole based on meaning, not word type - except that verbs marked for tense rarely if ever appear in compounds. We say a "going-over", not a "goes-over" or a "went-over".

The compound, however, depends on the words going and over for its combined meaning - "going" showing that we are talking about an activity that is in the process of moving. "Go" is a generic verb, and so the sense is generic, not specific; "walk" on the other hand is a specific word as it specifies a particular way of moving. Therefore, "going" can refer to a wide range of movements, and we see the specific type of movment in context.

"Over" is a preposition-particle that shows that its prepositional subject is specifically above its prepositional object (e.g. "the hat was over the cake hiding it from view", "the airship hovered over the city centre", "she passed the washing cloth over the table to clean it").

What this means is that "going-over" as a compound can potentially refer to any activity where there is a generic movement (literally almost any activity) that moves "over" something. This can be cleaning something ("they gave the windows a good going-over with polishing cloths") or beating up someone ("they police gave the petty criminal a good going-over when they arrested him" - "they gave him a good going-over" - "He got a good going-over when he got arrested") - etc.

The wording exists also as independent words, and the compound "going-over" is a nominalisation of the joint message:

"This work needs going over again."
"This work needs to be gone over again."
"We need to go over this work again."
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No - I posted it here because I couldn't find the other one - or - rather, couldn't take the time to find the other one.
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They are rare idioms, yes.

We have to keep clearly in mind that according to Jackendoff's estimate (in Jackendoff, Ray (1997). The Architecture of the Language Faculty. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. p. 262. ISBN 0-262-10059-2.), there are at least 25,000 idioms in English - and probably all lanaguges have similar high numbers.

We have a range of ways of expressing any given concept with all sorts of colour, as Peter said - ranging from the purely literal to the most idiomatic possible.
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I presume Jackendoff's estimate is for recorded idioms: we have to wonder how many others go unrecorded as they are being used by ingroups or in very local areas, not to mention the new ones being coined every day, some of which will make it into general use and some won't. Going back to Naghizade's original plea for some car idioms: I was trying to think of these and came up with 'I'm burning rubber/ move up another gear / at full throttle/ change gear/ putting on the brakes/ jump the lights/running on empty/ just park your rear here (you can sit down).
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Horsing around probably hasn't been in common use for over fifty years. That is one of the problems with teaching idioms - they are archaic within a very short space of time. We'd probably say messing around or even f***ing around but I'd need to check with my children to be really current.
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Where have you been living for the last 50 years? I hear that comment at least once a week. And when I worked in the Juvenile Justice system, I heard and used it even more frequently. It is as viable an expression as ever.
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what about let the grass grow around your feet, is it very often used or not. this idiom is used in this way in Farsi: wait till the grass grow UNDER your feet with the meaning that your waiting is in vain. example: wait till the grass grow under your feet, no body will help you

A rolling stone gathers no moss.

Don't let the grass grow under your feet.

They have somewhat similar meanings - someone who is always moving around stays free of commitments (the rolling stone). Someone who stays still long enough without changing, moving, improving, working, etc. is someone who is letting the grass grow under them.

Don't let the grass grow under your feet = never stay in one position too long. Get moving, be this in business, studies, career, whatever.

In a way it is the opposite of: "All comes to him who waits"

in English UNDER is not used AROUND is used. in Persian : UNDER the feet

In English it has been "under your feet" since at least 1600. There are those who say "around" - particularly those with a gardening background, because growing around your feet is more logical if you know anything about how grass grows. However, the "standard" saying is "under your feet". I get the impression that most English speaking people haven't heard of the "around your feet" version.
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I agree with everyone except Naghizadeh,with all due respect of course! Why should we want to change a language or the idioms? They are part of our culture our traditions, part of a civilization! You can create new ones or even stop using them if you don't like them, but not change them!
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you have to appreciate and welcome change in language Sara joon
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I agreee with Sara Almassi. she is right about the changes. We can create new idioms if we don't like the existing ones, but we as a speaker should adopt them because they are the siginificant signs of our culture and traditions
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if you agree with her, then u r both wrong, just kidding, every idea is welcomed and respected. sometimes the idioms emanate from superstitions. or a false belief gives rise to emerging an idiom, so the langauge should change, and will change willy nilly but with the passage of time. Halil, would you please have a look at new discussions and send your comment there as well.
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New idioms are regular created, often as one-offs, others only in a restricted area, and so on. Often we are not even really aware - or don;t care - that we are using an idiom, because it seems so natural. In the following, the distinction between non-idiom and idiom is very fine.

I've got to get these kids down to the park. They're bouncing off the walls.

I've been drinking too much coffee today - I'm starting to climb the wals.

He was red with anger.
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media can change anything, let alone changing idioms.
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Media can certainly create new idioms, but whether these 'take off' and become embedded in the language is entirely the will of the public, i.e. the ordinary people, as to whether they feel they express an idea they want and need to express (children bouncing off the walls!) in a way that is acceptable to them. That is the lovely thing about idioms they are like indestructible wild plants growing among the more formally planted, officially-sanctioned structures. Because of this democratic aspect, idioms are actually more hegemony-free than most areas of language. So don't worry about getting rid of them, Naghizade, the will of the people will decide when it is their time to go.
(In my usual random way, I note that hegemony sounds rather like a pretty wild plant- grows alongside agrimony and bryony maybe.
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people often follow media
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And media generally follows people. Don't forget, people in media come from "us", not the other way around.
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no i mean we can change an idiom through media(mostly TV channels) if we have access to that, butsocially speaking, people usually think the variety that media uses is of high prestige

In most countries, no, the media language is not always "prestige". Programs such as the news, documentaries and so on are in general in an educated accent; comedy programs, soap operas and the like in everyday language, and film can have all levels. 
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see, since TV uses standard dialect or variety, so what it says is usually valid for people and people try to adapt their variety to adopt the new one. the term "dialect leveling" refers exactly to this point. from now on, if TV get used to using rolling drum instead of horsing around, people will change lg less than no time

I understand - however, it doesn't work like that. As TV matures, it tends to go for the accent(s) of their general public. If it is a program designed for a educated pubic (e.g. History of Poetry in Middle Englsi), then one register is used, whereas if it is a comedy program from a working class comedian aimed at a working class public, then a completely different accent. The program developers use the language of its public. Dialect leveling is helped by TV, but also hindered by TV, particularly where sociolects or strong regional varieties are concerned. The more widespread TV is, and the less State control there is, there more democratic it is. In Europe, Canada, the States and so on there are hundreds of channels in all countries - and the general experience is (1) the English of TV has become less "snob" in accent - this had already started around 30 years ago in the UK, (2) presenters tend to remain "true" to their own accent, with just enough standardisation to be udnerstood by a wide public, and (3) many channels have developed that are in non-standard dialect/language - they cater for local varieties and interests. This proess is happening at different rates and timing in different countries; however, like the Internet in general, the overall tendency is to ignore the extreme snobbishness of prestige accent.
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I think media does influence our language in a big way, but maybe more from the pop-culture and advertisements than the news shows, as Rod mentions. How many popular sayings have come from a commercial, 'where's the beef?' or hit sit-com or tv comedy like Saturday Night Live? 'I'm just saying..." But to think that anyone, media included can manipulate an idiom out of our language is stretching it. A lot of new ones come in but old ones don't leave until the public has no use for it. I can think of a possible exception though. We used to say, "It's easy as pie." Someone along the way decided to change that to, "It's a piece of cake." Now we probably seldom say, "easy as pie." No one said we couldn't, however, as Nag you suggest. It just happened.
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Interesting.

"It's a piece of cake" - used as early in the States as 1936, apparently by Ogden Nash in Primrose Path, which I have never read :

"Her picture's in the papers now, And life's a piece of cake."

Also used in the Royal Airforce in the 1930s - though accepted wisdom seems to be that it started off in the 1870s in the States when cakes were given as prizes in competitions - maybe even earlier in the South in slavery days in this case.

"As easy as pie" - Saturday Evening Post, 22 February 1913; 1910 Zane Grey in "The Young Forester" - perhaps a development from "it's like eating pie" - "Sporting Life", 1886 : "As for stealing second and third, it's like eating pie."
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yeah that is right, pie is in much the same way as horse in the aforementioned idiom. I don't know exacatly whether "horse around" is used often by people or not but i think it will vanish sooner or later. pity that i am not in a position to replace it with roll the barrel (kidding)

Neither "a piece of cake", or "easy as pie" or "horse around" will disappear - because all of these items are a part of everyday life and therefore have immediate meaning as idioms. "Rolling a barrel", however, will never replace "horse around", not only because barrels are not a part of everyday life for most of us - but, also, in most cases, when we see barrels, they aren't moving. If they are moving, normally it is because they are being moved by someone from place to place, or, much more rarely, because of an accident.

All this means that "rolling barrels" can and will never be able to replace "horse around". Horses horsing around is some obviously play that it is a logical idiom to use - and also to maintain.

Idioms start off from the concrete meanings of the words used in the idiom. They are not random inventions that someone has decided to use.
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I've got to get these kids down to the park. They're bouncing off the walls. <<

Right, there are no walls at the park, so that should put an end to it.

______________________________

I've been drinking too much coffee today - I'm starting to climb the walls. <<

I would keep an eye on those baristas. What are they adding to your coffee?
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Double-shot espressos ;-)

Double shot espressos poured into a "short cup". They call it a "black-eye". One shot is a red-eye.

Coffee used to be simple, but it is now complicated. We're dealing with customizing a cup of coffee and having to adjust our language accordingly or they won't serve you what you want, so it might seem. I won't mention the names of any coffee places or businesses. People expect their lattes and cappucinos to be just right.

http://blog.proesl.com/2013/04/new-vocabulary-complicated-cup-of-coffee.html

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So - maybe about time we stop horsing around with coffee and getting back to basics?
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Right, double shot of espresso. That's it: simple.
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Oh, I forgot to say "doppio". Doppio espresso. A barista once corrected me. They have their own coffee language, and they're not horsing around.
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horses stopped horsing around, so we should stop using horsing around. please look for another idiom to replace

Katerina jump to most recent comment(not to conclusion, kidding), no horses we see around ourselves just toy horses, the horses that worknwith battery in the parks or statue of the horses, and none can horse around. so, how do you xpect me to know horses, horse around, let alone next generation. So, based on what Rod says "these items are a part of everyday life and therefore have immediate meaning as idioms" cat should be replaced with horse. so from then on, cat around becomes more common
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No, Mohammad - cats will not replace horsing around. Cat play is a different type of play - it is aggressive, it is learning how to kill - being "catty" is not nice, "having her claws out" isn't either. Cats are also "lazy". Cat's are also "warm and cuddly" - but certainly do not represent the type of playing around which is horsing around.

Toy horses represent real horses, and when kids play with toy horses (and I can remember this as a little kid), we make them do what real horses do - in a play world.

Also, we see horses in film, documentaries, pictures, statues, when travelling in the country-side.

It is very important to understand what idiom is - idiom is based on what we see, hear and experience, not on some abstract random choice of randomly lumped together words with no logic of any kind.

They reflect and drive cultural perception. To change the idiom, the whole cultural backgrounding of not only the idiom itself but other areas change FIRST - in other words, idioms change because something else changes that creates a knock-on effect.

Nothing has changed where horses are concerned - or barrels, or cats for that matter.
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Doppio espresso (and NOT expresso) is a must to be in the swing - to be with it. Otherwise you're put out to graze - or even retirement - in the paddock, and risk ending up knackered.

Abnd - if they ever give you a free one - never look that gift horse in the mouth.

ok thanks, you think horse around has a positive meaning, but in some situations, i have seen, it is used to complain someone of wasting time.
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No - I didn't say "positive". Playing around like horses, i.e. "horsing around" is in itself is neither positive or negative - it is neutral. uit can be both positive and negative. Horses are also pretty big and strong. You do not want to get in the way when they are fooling around.
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I totally agree with all that Rod Mitchell has said.I also think that we are all horsing around here on this topic! IMO, Mr. Mohammad if you think that teaching the existing idioms would be difficult and time consuming for the learners,then consider what kind of task it would be to change or replace them! By the time you change an idiom, in this age of high speed you'll have to change it again! So, why not keep the old ones,add new ones,and enrich our culture.
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I've been reading these posts hoping some horse-sense would emerge, but instead I find nothing but a great deal of horse-s++t, I reckon Naghizade is really a horse of a different colour, possibly a dark horse, so he should get off his high horse and come clean. Meantime I'm going to saddle up and mosey on down the trail.
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If you don't stop 'rocking the boat', I'll give you a good going over! (to use 'a going over' in another valid way)
What is 'a going over' in this context?

Idioms do not become old fashioned because there are no living horses where you live, what a ridiculous comment. The point is that idioms are not directly representative of what the subjects and objects are in the idiom. Perhaps we should not tell people that 'every cloud has a silver lining' on a sunny day! Maybe you can't 'rock the boat' if there are no boats around you.
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"Horsing around" and "fooling around" both mean the same thing to me, and it doesn't involve horses, although I can imagine horses horsing/fooling around. But maybe that's just the way my mind works these days.
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Were are not thinking about real boats when using 'rocking the boat'. In fact, it has nothing to do with boats at all in the context of causing a problem, which is why it's an idiom.

it seems that everything here is stable and taken for granted, so someone shold come and rock the boat, unfortuanately, here no one feels puzzling about idioms. so, let me eneter and give another idiom that ,logically speaking, needs to be changed, and i ask you to give it a littlte thought. the ELEVENTH HOUR means the last minue. this idiom definitely needs changeing. a good subtitution for this can be 90th minute ( regarding a football match). BTW, what does "great deal of horse-s++t" mean?
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Actually, Naghizade, there is a football idiom for running over schedule, or at the last minute: we say 'You're into injury time' ! We also talk about 'blowing the whistle on' something when we want it to stop (like a referee ending a match). 'I'm going to blow the whistle on this discussion.' (Not to be confused with whistle-blowing, which involves an insider reporting on malpractices and corruption in the organisation they work for- usually involving in them losing their job).

Regarding a pile of horse s*t. it means some one is talking rubbish. (Presumably in the olden days that was the main type of rubbish in the streets). That one is certainly a bit old fashioned in its underlying metaphor, but it seems to have stuck in colloquial English. I suspect because rudeness never goes out of fashion! Often we miss out 'horse' these days and say a pile of s*t
As a matter of curiosity, what are the idioms like in your language? Do they tend to reflect older times or have they all been updated with modern equivalents. Do people who speak other languages feel English is more prone to use idioms, or are they about the same?
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everything including langauge, identity, personality, ..... is subject to change. langauge in general and idioms in particular are not gospel coming down from God. peole construct language, people change langauge, people use language. in the past they had different thoughts from now, so based on their perceptions, they entered some idioms into langauge some of them seems non-sense in meaning like 11th hour.some idioms are related to old stories, cultures and histories that new genrations(so-called X,Y, Z), which are fond of technology, do not like. i think its time to create new idioms related to technology.

Roy, it was a completely clean discussion before u came and horse-s++t ing around, if u r hard to change this irritating behavior, just get somewhere else u like and throw you horse-s++t there. here someone like you (a rotten apple will make all other aples rotten) will make some other members use these kinds of horse-s++t s. the point is: if u thought the posts are a great deal of horse-s++t, u could have left it without comment.

Rory included many idiomatic phrases in his comment.
Not sure how much more mileage you're going to get from this topic.

Okay, for your tech thirst, here's one I just made up: 'There's always Control alt delete' which means if things are going badly, start again.
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first of all thanks for your man-made idiom. that is great. but, second of all, it seems that you posetd this comment reluctantly, if so no need and coercion to do that. i don't know why people who think sth is not of their interest or see something as a waste of time, come and comment, there is really no need. the forum is full of a great deal discussions and many remain lets say uncommented, why don't you go there and make contribution. on the other hand, there are some members who like to resolve any issue for people, no matter that is of ther interest or not, they are just interseted in answering peoples' questions. finally, some members like some discussions follow that and like to see others' reactions to their points. they can tolerate anything and respect and welcome any idea and post equally.
in sum, i have just one request from the people belonging to first category., do not comment on sth you do not like. and let people (second and theird groups) go their own way.
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Sometimes there seems to be a lot of testosterone on these forums.
(Now there's a modern idiom for you ;)
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oh i forgot to include the group whose members think every cloud has a silver lining nad contribue to achieve the silver lining. I have also problem with silver lining, it should be gold lining.

so what do you mean by that? Jennifer

I think the on ot the male contributors will have to explin that one- might sound a bit unladylike coming from me (: Any volunteers??
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Yes, fuelled by testosterone, of course. Interestingly there is an adjective testosterone-fuelled which is used for situations where there is a lot of male competitiveness (there's a testosterone-fuelled atmosphere in that office/ testosterone-fuelled rage). Nit sure if there's a female equivalent. It just shows how science idioms get into the language too:"It's not rocket science".
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Katerina and Lee: I don't think someone invented Don't rock the boat: I think it was what the Vikings, the Phoenecians, the ancient Egyptians and every boat-using people since the Neanderthals have shrieked at the first person who stood up in a boat when they were rowing across the water. Many idioms like that come from perfectly normal phrases that became metaphors because they were so common and known to everyone. 'batten down the hatches' and 'hang on for dear life' are obviously the same- nobody made themup as a clever expressions, they started as real language. the records are just where it was first noticed in a published source.
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When we use idioms, there is no link to the objects they contain, hence the figurative aspect. Every day there is evidence of idioms being used with no direct/physical reference to what is contained in them.

I think you misunderstood my earlier post, "...it has nothing to do with boats at all in the context of causing a problem." In the context of causing a problem. For example, "We've got a new boss, don't rock the boat." No boats, no thought of boats, just saying not to cause trouble. No boats anywhere to be seen. Is it necessary to be on a boat to use it? No. Therefore, in use, it has nothing to do with boats but the potential to cause trouble or a problem.

<<"We've got a new boss, don't rock the boat." No boats, no thought of boats, just saying not to cause trouble. No boats anywhere to be seen.>>

Lee - well - I have to disagree there. There is at least one boat in sight - or, rather, in hearing.
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It's interesting how idioms change over time, as their original, more literal meanings are lost and forgotten. For example, no one probably thinks about a bucket used in a hanging when they hear "kick the bucket" meaning "die." And now we have the "bucket list," which I think comes from the things you want to do before you "kick the bucket." This is an aspect of idioms that makes them so fascinating.
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Ah-ha, Rod. Nice view? Have you got a new boos, too? Ah, you are the boss, right?
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However, if you have ever spent any time in a boat like to boat in a canoe, or spent any time in a skiff, you would know quite quickly that if you rock the boat you end up in the lake, river or perhaps another body of water.
Every English Language idiom comest from some physical or metaphorical reference.
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Maybe you should do more research on the use of idioms. It's not the direct reference to something physical, so much that it's the imagery that the idea paints a picture of that suggests the emotions or perception used to exaggerate the conversation to illustrate the humor or perhaps paint the picture of the severity of the situation.
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Mr Scott, not sure to whom you are referring too, but I agree, and that's what I've been saying all along about not making direct reference to the physical thing(s). Other people, however are making efforts to make the connection and add relevance to unassociated contexts. Hence no boats necessary.

If you are referring to me, I don't need to research how to use idioms; I grew up with them, and I show my students how to use them appropriately. I do not need to explain the origin of them. Students can research for themselves if they are interested.

...referring to,...

That's right, Scott. The "myth" that an idiom is a use of words separately from their concrete meaning is is simply that - a "myth" - or, to put it another way, a philosophical point of view that sees the abstract as being distinct from the conrete.

Whereas, all psychologists, language teachers, coaches, trainers, cultural trainers, actors, writers, artists, film makers and so on know now that there is no distinction between the concrete and the abstract - that we build meaning fom the concrete into the abstract, our use of abstract language depends on the concrete, and also the abstract intrudes into the concrete in a big way.

In every day speaking we use around 5000 words in thousands of different combinations - it would be impossible to speak if we had to think of every single word and how to create the sentence. So, we have developed a very useful skill of being able to manage communication largely at the subconscious level. The overt link might not be there, but at the subconscious link it is.
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"that it's the imagery that the idea paints a picture of that suggests the emotions or perception used to exaggerate the conversation". Mr. Scott, this is not always the case. see, we say 11th hour to mean the last minute, is that exaggeration? definitely not, on the contrary, it is underestimation.
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Kidding aside, Lee - for the speaker, "boat" comes out. I have known, been on/in, boats most of my life. For me "don't rock the boat" is very real and very concrete - even if there isn't a boat in sight. For the listeners, what they hear is "boat" - this means the boat suddenly becomes a heard part of the discourse. Who knows what goes through their heads?
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Mohammad - at the 11th hour is an "exageration" - it means that things are getting very late and urgent.

The priest was to be hung at dawn, at 5 am, and he spent the night in prayer, commending his soul to God. As he was led out to the gallows, his heart heavy and his mind clouded, a shout went up from across the court yard. Everyone looked up except teh priest, until the word clawed its waythrough the mist in his mind - "Stay! - A stay of execution!". A repreive had come through at the 11h hour.
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That is right - at the 11th hour means at the 59th minute - almost at the lst second.

But that is what the 11th hour is - something that comes through at the end of the day at the 11th hour is almost late. It got in just on time.
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see, here 11th used to mean the last minute, an hour to mean a minute is exaggeration? don't u think 90th minute can better describe the situation.

It is an exageration - to use an hour to refer to a minute. After all, an hour is bigger than a minute.

However, the phrase developed before the wide spread use of clocks, when the day's work outside was limited by sunrise and sunset. The hours were of varying length between winter and summer - and if you are outside working, anything that happens in the 11th hour is at the end of the day.
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The 11th hour leaves but one more hour until the $417 417$ the phan.

at 90th minute the refree is about to blow up the whistle and you may have just extra time left that is a very short time as compared with the 90 minutes of the match.
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Okay --- you're thinking about sports. Hey, Nag, are you sure the referee blows 'up' the whistle? He'd be putting himself in danger, wouldn't he? :-)

90 minutes would be lost on me and anyone else who doesn't follow soccer.
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I just think it's rather sad that in this technological age with the wide availability of media in every country in the world, that more use is not made of TV series, DVD's etc. Nag's problem - to me- stems from his trying to separate the language from its culture. You can't do this - in any language. You may be able to attain a 'survivor level' of what I call "Euro-English" but you will never know the language and hence continue to have difficulty with a language (English) that resorts more than any other I know to visual images and idioms to convey meaning. Watch those DVDs, buddy. The subtitles are easily downloaded too.
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@ Rory> I am not sure that idioms are really that easy to learn off films etc. That is because they are always confined to one cultural group:for example, most big name US movies (e.g. the Fast and the Furious series) and are about crime etc and the idioms might be handy if you want to hang around with boy racers and street gangs, or costume dramas (historical and literary films) obviously don't use modern idioms much. The truth is there is really no point in learning idioms unless you are living in a particular English Language context, in which case you will hear and pick up the idioms in use in that context (geographical, social or occupational). In fact it is a bad idea to try to use the idioms if you are not a member of that in-group, as you will make a noodle of yourself. For that reason I consciously refrain from using the idiom of, say teenagers, or even Scottish idioms because despite living here over 40 years, I don't have a Scottish accent, so I think it probably sounds silly coming from me. My advice about idioms is enjoy them, explore them, especially if you are a scholar who is curious about the language,but don't waste classroom time consciously teaching or learning them. they will come up in the appropriate contexts but consciously trying to use them is social suicide, I think!
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@Jenifer (and everyone ) - getting students to actually use idioms is not my point, nor am I talking about classroom time spent teaching them. I did French at university and enjoyed learning many French idioms which I have since forgotten (through lack of use). My argument is that you cannot divorce a language from its culture and almost certainly at advanced levels students have an obligation to learn English as she is spoke. I do the same for Spanish, my second language. I would say I am fluent but not as proficient as a native speaker and most certainly do not understand every idiom. But I understand and accept a lot of them despite their incongruity, and that helps build bridges.
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There are 10s of thousands of idioms. The vast majority are so obvious that sometimes we can ask why we call them idioms, apart from the fact that they don't have a purely concrete reference. The few that aren't immediately obvious do become clear when we talk about them - and it is always the case that someone who knows tells us. If the first person we ask says "I don't know", that doesn't mean that the idiom is "opaque", it means simply that that person had never thought about it. Someone else will have.

The Australian language I know has one idiom "urukam tekoth palan" "tighten a rope", literally "puffer-fish[tekoth]-cause [palan] a rope [urukam]". For anyone who does not know what a puffer-fish and what happens when a puffer-fish feels that it is in danger will not understand the idiom. For those in the know, the reason might not immediately jump to mind, but with a little thought, voila! When puffer-fish feel that they are in danger, the puff themselves up into a ball, and the skin becomes very tight/taught.
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PS - in other words - ALL languages have thousands and thousands of idioms. English is not strange in this way at all. We sometimes feel it is, but that is because we speak English and learn other languages, and so like all language students, we first learn mainly what native spekers consider non-idiomatic language, and little by little we learn idioms.

Like all language learners, we do not learn the totality of the language that the average native speaker has been learning since birth, and like our students learning our language, we have to go through the same cultural awareness development activities - and in general we love doing that. It makes us more aware of teh worldview of the people(s) who speak the language.

But - also - because we are supposed to know there are thousands and thousands of idioms in any language, we take them as they come, and sometimes learn some deliberately, at other times understand without bothering to learn, we make mistakes, they laugh at us - and all is in good fun (hopefully).
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No Naghizade, "driving around" is a horse of a different color. We might want to change the subject but that would be changing horses in midstream. At any rate, we don't need to be beating a dead horse. This free forum is pretty good so let's not look a gift horse in the mouth.
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Or as they say from Erie, PA; "It's a horse a piece no matter how you look at it. "
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Catting around is what we boys did in high school.
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Scott: What does "It's a horse a piece no matter how you look at it " mean? Never heard it.
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Idioms, and the difficulty non-native speakers have learning them, is proof of the fact that language and culture cannot be separated. They are two sides of the same coin, to put it another way. Joined at the hip.
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I can't say in an open forum like this what "catting around" meant to me and my friends when we were in high school, but we had fun doing it.
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why u think my posts imply that idioms and culture are seperated. rather, i think, they are profoundly intertwined that when a change happens for one, the other is also affected. you know, new generations have different culture from the old ones. I'm sue all u agree that with the passage of time, the culture changes, so why u expect the idioms should remain stable. when culture changes, lg changes, idioms are just a part of language. Moreover, we all consider English as the international language. what does international language mean? it means it should not belong to just some particualr nations. all people in all countries have to use that with ease and comfort, therefore, the idioms related to old stories and history of a specific culture has to be excluded, adapted or chnaged.

@ Naghizade: I think the point is they do change, of course. When we read Shakespeare at school, we have to have many of the idioms explained by the teachers because they are no longer used or understandable. However, the point is that there is no 'should' in the English language, as there is no one who has any authority to do this: the users (both native speaking and others) are the ones that decide this by their actual usage. There are over 50 countries where English is an official language (including places as diverse as Cameroon, Eritreia, Nigeria and Singapore- but NOT the UK or US, surprisingly, which do not have an official language!). The other issue you raise is a serious one, I think, which is the 'exclusion' of outgroups when we use idioms. This is why I believe that the more formal and neutral forms of English are more useful for teaching English as an international language. If the learners then move into using English in a specific context, they can learn the idioms often used in that context, as and when needed. Of course idioms do provide a bit of fun in lessons where the students are learning for a cultural purpose as well. However, I don't really think a French business person who needs to sell their company's products in Germany or a Chinese research student who will need to read English language internationally published articles on genetics needs to waste time learning idioms. I also think that one of the things native speakers need to be trained to do is to avoid idioms when talking in international contexts. I have spent some time persuading university lecturers that using idioms doesn't make their lectures sound friendly to international students, it just totally baffles them!
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some idioms, however, can be understood through discourse or context irrespective of any culture, with great difficulty for non native speakers though, this is because they use the words that convey lots of meaning. an example: he has what it takes to be a great maneger."
what it takes here is an idiom and can give rise to different inferences by nonnative speakers . the rate of process is also slow in these idioms.

All languages used for international communication between speakers of other languages have a "neutral" form - the "standard form" - which is the same as what the native speakers of that language consider to be the neutral form - that standard they use with outsiders who they feel would not understand the "in-forms" of their accent/dialect/language.

That "neutral" language, however, also has many idioms - those idioms that all native speakers understand, that are part of the Standard language. It would be a mistake that think everything in formal, standard language is non-idiomatic.

As ... said - all language is metaphorical; or, as Steven Pinker put it in reverse - all abstract language (metaphor, idioms, etc.) is based on the concrete. That is to say - even though "horsing around" is metaphorical - it is still felt in a real way. "Love" and "hate" are abstract, but we feel them in a real way.

All words (potentially or in reality) have an idiomatic content; often, however, we don't realise it. Take "mistake", for example. When you think about this word - it is an idiom (I mistook that = I took that wrongly, I made a mistake = I produced a wrong-take) [so is "error" - . "Understand" is also an "idiom" - it literally means something like "between-position". "Pullover" is also strictly speaking idiomatic - a garment that is put on by pulling it over the head.
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Exactly. Here's another take on the word "take". They say in movies "take one, take two, take three" when they film a scene or a segment again in order to make it better. In effect, the first "take", was "mistake", with "mis" meaning "not on target" or "not right".

What's your take on it? How do you receive it, and based on how you receive it, or "take it", what thoughts or ideas do you have on it. Or, simply put, your take is your opinion or what you think about something. What's your take on it? What's your opinion of it? What do you think about it?

Take something into your mind and form opinions, ideas, and thoughts.< abstract
Take something into the office, such as copy paper, and put it in a storage room.< concrete
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I notice that I didn't finish "error" - this is also an idiom. The real meaning is "wandering, straying", and the idiomatic extension is wanterding/straying in word use (or the like).

This is a lot to take in. This is a lot to consider, think about, or understand. We recognize digesting information just as we recognize digesting food.

Take it or leave it. And we're not talking about the last slice of pizza in the box. That's concrete. When people say "take it or leave it", they mean "accept this as it is, or do not accept it at all; it's your choice, but it's not changing".

Take it back. People can take back their words because they, for some reason, regret saying something. People can also take a product back to a store and return it for a refund or credit. At least they can do that here. I'm am told in other places this is not possible or at very difficult to accomplish.

Take something the wrong way. You took it the wrong way. Jeff didn't mean it like that. You misinterpreted it or "took it into your mind in the wrong way".
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And - not last nor least : "The plane took off up into the sky heading for Tokyo at 6 PM." - the plane took itself [even though we know the pilot turned the engines on and used these to take the plane up off the ground] off (away from the ground] up into the sky. The concrete link of "take off" to reality is so "stark" that "take off" strictly speaking should not even be called an idiom - or a phrasal verb for that matter.

All too often we call something an idiom simply because we mismatch. So many teachers teach their students that "take off" means "leave" - it means nothing of the sort:

The pilot took the helicopter off up into the sky and hovered for a few minutes.

The helicopter took off up into the sky and hovered for a few minutes.

The bird took off up to its nest in the tree.

The bird took a wisp of wool off up to its nest in the tree.

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We can take credit for something: receive recognition for an accomplishment or a contribution. Or people can take credit for something by claiming to have accomplished something or to have made a significant and-or important contribution. Therefore, "announcing responsibility for an action or set of actions is to take credit for an action or set of actions". The credit, an abstract idea, is something people accumulate in an effort to receive recognition for the sum of their accomplishments and contributions. The idea that we can "store credit" and use it is an intriguing way to allow a concrete idea to represent an abstract idea, an intangible.

Put the coffee on the shelf in the storage room.
Put the credit on an electronic file in a computer.
Store the credit for work well done in your mind and influence others to keep "the credit" in their mind so that you use the credit later on.

Take money out of the bank. Though we never say it this way, we might acknowledge that, in a way, we expect to "take credit out of people's minds" which we believe we have accumulated for the purpose of personal achievement, professional achievement, or some combination of the two, as they are sometimes connected or intertwined.

Using the concrete to speak of the abstract is pervasive throughout the manner in which we communicate. There's no escaping it. And that last sentence is a concrete idea used to represent the abstract idea of avoiding something, which in this case, is a manner or method of using language.

There's no escaping it. You cannot run from it and be free from it. You can't avoid it.
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All we can do, when talking to people from another place, is try to keep in mind that certain idioms will not be understood, or risk being misunderstood (as Mohammad's example of keeping the feet firmly on the ground showed) - and, in those cases, either use the idiom, making clear what we mean by that, or avoid it for something else.
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I understand your point, Rod - really I do. I'm not just saying that (because this is not a conference room, and this is not business English - and because our egos are not so fragile that I believe I have to say "I understand your point". ;-)

However, for practical purposes, when people say, "I've got to take off in few minutes", they mean, "I've got to leave in a few minutes".

So it only seems right that we can say "take off", at least in that context, means "leave".
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I have been used to call these verbs with a very loose and undefined meaning, like take, make and, most of all, get, de-lexical verbs. They almost only acquire meaning in a context or with their collocations, which is why they so often appear in phrasal verbs. Again, in the neutral/ formal registers we tend to use their more precise (lexical) counterparts, e.g. He's just got a car might be bought/ purchased/ received/ been given/ won or even stolen! Got can be used in high-context situations, i.e. when it is obvious to the people listening which is the most likely meaning. In low-context situations, particularly in formal writing, where the reader is separated in tine and space and context, the appropriate lexical verbs are needed. Another argument for the use of the less 'excluding', neutral forms in international communication, where the cultural context is less clear.
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Yes, I do see what you mean, Jenfier. It's interesting that even when I speak to very fluent and very advanced non-native English speakers, I can sense when I'm about to use an idiom or an expression that they do not know or whose meaning might not be clear to them. And then I ask to be sure they understand, and if they do not, I explain, and that adds more value to their English communication skills, especially if it's something they can remember and use.

Misunderstandings might occur in other circumstances, which are not meant to be "instructive" in any way at all. Native speakers might not be sensitive to this, and non-native speakers might not ask for clarification when they do not understand something. Or they might think they understand when the do not. And a native speaker might think they understand when they do not.
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Of course, I agree that with very advanced speakers, where their language skills are near native speaker (sometimes better than many native speakers), that is a good time to add idioms to increase their range of things they can do with the language. I was thinking of less advanced speakers,say, intermediate learners. I feel that teaching a lot of idioms that they are almost sure to misuse or may hardly ever hear is a waste of learning time compared with a lot of other really useful vocabulary that is horribly neglected in much English language teaching material. (category words and really common abstract nouns that hardly ever receive any focus: words like risk, individuals, events, issues, processes).
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And there are ordinary everyday expressions that might people might be inattentive to, such as "thaw out" or "that figures". Regardless of how abstract any expression may be, what really matters is whether or not it's concrete in the sense of how often it may be used and how common it is. In other words, think in terms of what's practical and useful for the time, place, and the person - or people.

Jenifer - I agree 100% with the sentiments.

However - "delexical verbs" - the "extreme" point of view is that the person who invented that term/concept should have had his head read. There is no such thing as a "delexical" verb - and, therefore a "lexical" verb.

To put it a nicer way : the problem is the starting point. If we assume that the core meaning of "take" is the use in: "He took a beer from the fridge", then all other uses are "delexicalised".

Thinking that concept through the logical consequences shows that the concept of "delexicalisation" is crazy. That would mean that literally NO word in any language can be understood, and - worse - that everytime we said something, we would have to go through a whole process of Gricean "cooperation" - we would never be able to communicate beyond a basic level. Abstract speech would be pretty-well impossible.

There are around 60 preposition-particles, all of which enter into "collocations" with a signifiacntly large set of the tousands of verbs in English. There are 15,000 phrasal verbs in the Phrsal-Verbs plus dictionary. This would be impossible if "delexicalisation" was a fact.

Another way of looking at it - who said that "take" as in "he took a beer out of the fridge" is the "core meaning"? The answer is - originally dictionary makers, who base their work on grammar-translation (this is also the origin of the term "phrasal veb" - grammar-translation). It is based on "the first use that comes to the mind is likely to be the most common use, and therefore the "core" use" - which is a valid thought process, of course, because more often than not that is true. However, the more common a word is, the more likely that there are a range of uses, and that therefore there is more of a "lottery" feel about what comes into the head first.

An interesting activity I have undergone - and done - is ask about a word meaning, and to get the teachers to give their idea - it is amazing how many different answers can come out.

We have to be careful about the term "meaning" - we often use it wrongly. A different use does not mean a different meaning. A useful term is "reading". In "The bird took the wisp of wool off up to its nest" and "The bird took off up to its nest", there is a change in reading, in this case transitive vs intransitive-reflexive, but not a change in meaning of the verb.

Research based on principals of Anthropological Linguistics (the oldest), Psycholinguistics (the youngest) and Cognitive Linguistics (and some Notional-Functional, etc.) - and particularly the input from Corpora Studies - shows that verbs (or other words - particularly prepostion-particles) do not "delexicalise" - that all verbs have full meaning which doesn't change regardless of collocation. The same goes for prepositional-particles, as well, and shows that "in" as a preposition is exactly the same word as "in" as a particle.

A good activity is to get students to do the analysis for you (the teacher). You can preprepare a "corpus" of sentences with "make" in them, others with "do" in them - maybe 100 of each - divide the class into groups of 3 or 4, and get them to analysise (1) the uses of the word they are analysing (either make or do), (2) what type of "collocations" do they enter into - that is to say - what do they collocate with - what is special about what they collocate with and (3) to answer the question "what is the meaning of the word?" - and then to compare answers (mixing the groups up) and so on.

The answers they come up with are that "make" focuses on production (I made a cake, I made a mistake, I made the dinner, etc. - synopnyms in certain contexts "produce", "manufacture", "build", etc.), and "do" focuses on the activity (I do the cakes in the catering company, I did my homework, I did the shopping, I did my work, I do wedding photos - synonyms "act", etc.).

Including cases like "he takes photos - he does photos - he makes photos", "do a tour" and "make a tour", "do a film" and "make a film" also help.

The weird thing is that the meanings of words are often not to be found in a dictionary - particularly bilingual ones or the little "pocket dictionaries", which work by translation, and if they do, they are often not first in the list. Like, the real meaning of "get" is about the 5th or 6th entry in the Oxford Learner's Dictionary. The first meaning normally given in dictionaries (receive) is a contextual reading, not the meaning of get.

"Take" focuses on moving something (which includes the self) from A to [at least a potential] B.

"Get" means change state from A to B, where B is the final state and A is its logical opposite (and often not mentioned) : he got in the car, he got out of the car, he got over the fence, he got dressed, he got married, he got a letter, he got the job done, he got to town early.

They are amazingly similar and amazingly different.
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Germanic languages work by spreading the semantic load over the sentence - they are "phrase-based" languages. Latin languages are "verb-focusing" languages - as much as possible goes onto the verb. Latin "praeparo" is a whole phrase in English "I prepare/set up/supply beforehand" and other Germanic languages. Latin (and French) being the "posh" languages for English speaking countries for a long time has created this interesting attitude - in (highly) formal English use a specific verb (this is the better term, not "lecical verb") where possible [i.e. have a more "Latinate" style], whereas in non-formal English, English operates as a typical Germanic language - phrase-focusing.

Other languages with similar "top-down", such as Japanese from Chinese, Malay from Sanskrit, and soon show similar types of differences between teh formal (more "foreign") and the non-formal (more "native").
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There is too much horse play on this forum.
Someone might get hurt.
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Take off essentially means "remove from a surface", and that covers a lot of ground from hats and gloves to planes, birds, and fast cars taking of down the road. The car, in a way, "leaves one surface" to continue to another one, with "take off" strongly implying that the car is moving fast.

With "take off" very often being applied to flying and flying being easily associated with fast speed, it's easy to think of "taking off" as meaning not just leave but, specifically leave fast, soon, or quickly.
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That is an additonal point - "take off" does not mean "leave" - "take" itself in its semantic field overlaps with "leave" - but doesn't mean "leave".

The plane left for Tokyo at 6. (< The plane left the airport ....)

The plane took (itself) off for Tokyo at 6. (in reality : the pilot took the plane off the ground for Tokyo at 6).

"Leave" is an intransitive verb with an underlying direct object - it isn't reflexive. "Take" as an intransitive verb is reflexive - its underlying direct object is the subject.

The importance of this type of realisation is - we as English speaking people can take all that for granted. We understand that at a subconscious level, that level where we understand everything with bothering to have to think it over in order to understand it.

Those learning English can take nothing for granted. Saying that "take" MEANS "leave" leads to obvious mismatches:

He took the book from the library <> He left the book from the library.

The same goes for "horsing around" - we English speaking people know what it means without having to think it through. Learners have to learn what it means - in exactly the same way they have to learn what anything and everything they learn in Englsih means. Everything in English is new, regardless of whether it is literal or idiomatic.

To say "change the idiom" because it doesn't mean anything to "me" [i.e. to people who don't have a certain cultural background] is a misunderstanding of what learning and using another language is.
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A member cited pages 83 and 84 of Philip G’s (2011) Colouring Meaning: Collocation and Connotation in Figurative Language, John Benjamins Publishing as reference material in relation to delexicalisation.

Such works could be "accused" of starting with an assumption and therefore subconsciously arriving at the proof of the assumption by reading the evidence with the looking glasses of the assumption.

Often the examples they use to "prove" the point do not show semantic bleaching, but, rather, misanalysis, by assuming what the core meaning of a word might be and then assuming that anything else must be "semantic bleaching" or "delexicalisation".

"Do your laces up" - this is where we start getting into what looks like semantic bleaching. What does "do" actually mean?

In older English, "do" was often used to refer to any activity that is obvious from the context. Modern uses that are retentions of this are "don" (< do on), "doff" (< do off), "do in" (= kill - do the knife/sword in), "be done in" (very tired, worn out - do an activity to the point of being IN a state of weariness) - and dialect/"quaint" uses are "do the door shut", "do the door to"; however, this has continued to modern English in many contexts : do the dishes, do the work, do the shopping, do the laces/buttons up, do what you like, etc., particularly where the activity includes a variety of specific activities that make up the whole activity.

"Do" means "carry out an activity or a variety of activities". From this point of view, "do up" has had no "semantic bleaching". Dutch "maken" and "doen" mean much the same as in English, while German "machen" and "tun" are different - apparently "machen" means "do an action/make a product", and "tun" means "do a potential action/a variety of activities", as a German teacher with a strong grounding in analytical and applied linguistics told me once (I haven;t put it to the test). Dutch "doen", like older English "do", can be used to refer to any activity : doe het boek op de tafel - "do" (= put) the book on the table.

Not that what Philips says is not so - particularly in compounds like French portefeuille "wallet", literally "carry-leaf". However, the "loosening of syntactic relationships" within this compound (as an example) is not the compound itself - its syntax is the standard "verb stem + object" of verb-noun compounds of this type of all the Latin languages. The verb stem itself has a notional subject, as it is third person singular. Portefeuille is directly translatable in Englsih as "leaf-carrier" - English makes the subject obvious [the wallet itself is the subject of the verb stem in the compound].

So - the quotes refer most specifically to compounds - and not necessarily to all compounds. If the reference of "syntactic loosenng" actuallty refers to a change in word type - well - that in itself is only to be expected, and is not a proof of "semantic bleaching" or "delexicalisation".

A bottle cap : "bottle", which is nomally countable, in this construction becomes "uncountable", but certainly is not "semantically" bleached in any way - nor is it "delexicalised".
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Right, so to rephrase this, you would then say that "leave" is not the core meaning of "take off". However, "take off" may be applied in a context in which someone is "leaving" to mean that someone is "taking off".

Would that be how we are to take it, and that would be your take on it?

I am saying FIRSTLY that there is no such thing as "take off" - it is "take" "move something from a starting point (generally a surface) [transitive] - move self from a starting point (generally a surface) [intransitive]" plus a following prepositional phrase, in this case the headword of which is "off", which refers to the starting point and real or abstract movement away from that starting point. This is the meaning of "off" in all its uses.

To repeat my examples of somewhere else:

"The bird took the wisp of wool off up to its nest"

To expand this:

"The bird took the wisp of wool off (of/from) the barbed wire fence up(wards) to its nest."

This is a transitive use. The intransitive use is as follows:

"The bird took off up to its nest"

To expand this:

"The bird took itself off from the barbed wire fence up(wards) to its nest."

This is normal for verbs like "take", "get", "fly" and many others - the intransitive form is either always reflexive, or can be both reflexive and/or intransitive

transtitive
"John got the ladder up over the fence."
"The pilot flew the plane off up to Edinburgh."

"John got up over the fence." - intransitive-reflexive = John got himself up over the fence.
"The pilot flew off up to Edinburgh." id. - the pilot flew himself

"John got over the sickness." - a metaphorical getting over a barrier.
"Superman flew off up to Edinburgh." is this purely intransitive or intransitive-reflexive? - this example shows that in English the distinction between pure intransitive and reflexive-intransitive is simply two ends of a continuum with lots of fuzzy in-between.

Note that "take" + "off" is in no way idiomatic in any of these examples. The two words in question are being used with their literal meanings. We think they are idiomatic mainly because we are conditioned to think that a word like "leave", being a single word, is "superior".
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Secondly - "leave" vs "take" + "off"

John took off from the starting line with a strong stride.

Pete took off for work when he noticed he was late.

The dogs took off like they had seen seventh heaven when they saw the rabbit hope across the road.

The helicopter took off straight up and hovered 100 feet over the airstrip.

In none of these can you replace "take" + "off" by "leave" and keep the same meaning. Change the words, you change the meaning. If "take" + "off" meant "leave", then there would be no change in meaning.

Moreover, in the last, "leave" doesn't work at all, in the third last, "leave" would mean that the dogs went anywhere except after the rabbit [which is implicature anyway as well with "take" + "off"], and in the first "leave", though notionally OK, would not be normal. Only in the 2nd one would "leave" be an OK substitution, though it still has no feel of the urgency of "take" + "off". In the last example, the helicopter can only be said to leave if it then actually flies away.

In other words - "take" + "off" can only be used as a rough-and-ready synonym for "leave" when in the context we actually know there is a departure. "Take" + "off" in itself does not say that. Even though the helicopter left the ground, this is still a different concept and focusing of the cognitive perception of the event from the helicopter took off up.

In a way it is like the discussion of whether "will" is the future tense marker in English or not. As you said somewhere, Steven, we only know that "will" refers to a future when within the actual context it is clear we are referring to a future. As "will" can also refer to the present and the past, we know that "will" is not a future tense marker, but a present tense modal verb that like many other verbs (want, wish, hope, intend, etc. and the combination "be going to") can also refer to future time as part of its present tense properties.

"Take" + "off" only refers to leaving when we know in the context that actual leaving has happened - and also keeping in mind that "leave" itself has as its underlying meaning - "leave the starting point behind" - and is directly linked to "leave" in uses such as "he left his books at school", "they left their opponents eating dust".

"The helicopter left the ground and took off up and hovered 100 feet over the airstrip."
"The plane took off at 6 am and left for Tokyo."

The fact that both can be used in the sentence is also a sign that they don't mean the same thing - that their semantic references are differetn enough so as not to cause a clash.
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The helicopter took off straight up and hovered 100 feet over the airstrip. <<

Yes, we can't replace "take off" with leave here because we know that take off means "go up away from the ground".

________

Pete took off for work when he noticed he was late. <<

The meaning is not exactly the same if replace "take off" with "leave". However, in effect, if Pete takes off for work, Pete leaves for work.

And, yes, "leave" does not work in all sentences in which we use "take off", such as the one about the dogs and the rabbit.
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it is "take" "move something from a starting point (generally a surface) [transitive] - move self from a starting point (generally a surface) [intransitive]" plus a following prepositional phrase, in this case the headword of which is "off", which refers to the starting point and real or abstract movement away from that starting point. This is the meaning of "off" in all its uses.<<

Yes, I get that and know what you mean, as I posted this earlier:

Take off essentially means "remove from a surface", and that covers a lot of ground from hats and gloves to planes, birds, and fast cars taking of down the road. The car, in a way, "leaves one surface" to continue to another one, with "take off" strongly implying that the car is moving fast.

With "take off" very often being applied to flying and flying being easily associated with fast speed, it's easy to think of "taking off" as meaning not just leave but, specifically leave fast, soon, or quickly.

Still with this in mind, telling people that "Pete took off for work when he noticed he was late" cannot mean at all "Pete left for work" is bound to cause them some sort of confusion.

Yes, I know what you mean, as well, that "take off" is not superior to the single word "leave"

____

"Take" + "off" only refers to leaving when we know in the context that actual leaving has happened - and also keeping in mind that "leave" itself has as its underlying meaning - "leave the starting point behind" - and is directly linked to "leave" in uses such as "he left his books at school", "they left their opponents eating dust". <<

Yes, and this is what I say here, essentially:

However, "take off" may be applied in a context in which someone is "leaving".

I am saying FIRSTLY that there is no such thing as "take off" <<

From a practical standpoint, and considering context, I would not want to say this or tell anyone that there is no such thing as "take off". Along with the meaning of the words, there is the observation of how the words combine in certain contexts, which is relevant. Though as I might recall in previous discussions we may not apply the same weight to the relevance of word combinations, such as "take off". Yes, it's contextual, and we first consider the meaning of each word. but I would not say there is no such thing as "take off". It should be distinguished from "leave" because it exists, and to say "it does not exist" would cause some confusion for those attempting to make sense of the language and derive meaning from what they read or hear, as "take" frequently combines with "off" in certain contexts.
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"The helicopter left the ground and took off up and hovered 100 feet over the airstrip."
"The plane took off at 6 am and left for Tokyo."

The fact that both can be used in the sentence is also a sign that they don't mean the same thing - that their semantic references are differetn enough so as not to cause a clash. <<

Not saying what is right or wrong here at all, but simply as a matter of predictable language from my viewpoint, I don't imagine that I would say this or write this "The helicopter left the ground and took off up and hovered 100 feet over the airstrip." <<

It's redundant. I would say or write, yes even say, I can predict that, "The helicopter left the ground and hovered 100 feet over the airstrip." or this, "The helicopter took off and hovered 100 feet over the airstrip."

I do not believe that I would say, as a matter of predictable spoken language, not saying what is right or wrong here, "took of up" just like that. I can understand or hear "took of up to the sky" or "took off up towards the sky".

The helicopter left the ground and took of up to the sky, though the sky is the only place the helicopter can go (I imagine).

left the ground - no longer on the ground
took off up - This would have to presume that there was, or is, a second starting point after the helicopter left the ground. However, I see "leaving" and "taking off up to the sky" for practical purposes as meaning the same thing, which is why I say it's redundant why I can reasonably predict that I would not say it, though it does sound like a point of emphasis from a creative writing standpoint. I do not mean to say it's entirely impossible, just not something I imagine I would say quite naturally.
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The same thing goes for leaving in great haste.
" The criminal getaway car took off, as soon as the silent alarm at the bank, was not longer silent. When the police sirens were heard in the distance, all of the criminals instantly took off their masks, so as to blend in with the local populace outside the bank and in the car.
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Even those who took off their masks, were easily rounded up, because of how fast the getaway car took off from the scene of the crime !"
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Bug off or I will bug out.
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"Still with this in mind, telling people that "Pete took off for work when he noticed he was late" cannot mean at all "Pete left for work" is bound to cause them some sort of confusion."

This is true for explaning the use of ANY piece of language. There are parts of the communication that are part of context (Pete is leaving for work), and then the specific message we want to give in the choice of words we use. I is not that "leave" can't be used as part fo the explanation - as it can be in the following, which all fit in the context of "Pete leaving for work in a hurry realising he was late":

Pete took off for work when he noticed he was late
Pete ran out the door for work when he noticed he was late
Pete jumped up and ran for took off for work when he noticed he was late
Pete darted off for work when he noticed he was late
Pete teleported off for work when he noticed he was late

<<From a practical standpoint, and considering context, I would not want to say this or tell anyone that there is no such thing as "take off". Along with the meaning of the words, there is the observation of how the words combine in certain contexts, which is relevant.>>

That is relevant - but that is true for ALL "collocations" no matter what they are (of which there are tens of thousands - piotentially hundreds of thousands).

We just have to be careful to neither understand or to give the understand that "take off" is "a thing". It is not a unit. It does not exist as a "phrasal verb" or a "unit". That does not mean that "take" + "off" in themselves, together or separately do not exist.

If I can use another example :

"He's very hot" - a student can ask legitimately "what does "very hot" mean?". This does not mean that "very hot" is a "unit", a "word" - we know very well that there is an idiomatic level based on the literal meanings of those words. Referring to "phrasal verbs" - any collocation - is the same thing. "The ship broke up in the waves" - the student can ask "what does "broke up" mean?" - this likewise does not mean that "broke up" is a "unit", a "word" (etc. as above)

Where we English teachers make our mistake is to say "it is a "word" - a "phrasal verb" - rather than, "take/break" has X meaning, and "off/up" have Y meaning - and in this context what they show us is Z.

That is relevant - but that is true for ALL "collocations" no matter what they are (of which there are tens of thousands - piotentially hundreds of thousands). <<

We have to trust ourselves, and many of us can - I can - to recognize those which are significant and important and not focus on the idea that word combinations, or collocations, and other types of combinations, are so limitless that noticing them in order increase understanding of the language and fluency is meaningless.

Of course, there are hundreds of thousands, but that does not mean that all of them carry equal weight in terms of what is practical to notice, learn from, and use in order to increase understanding and fluency.

Everything is a "collocation" or some sort of "lexical phrase". It's the relative uniqueness of each one that makes each one significant.

wooden desk - Arguably, that's a "collocation". but focusing on that sort of combination is only to discount and minimize the idea of "collocation" or any other type of word combination from understanding and fluency can be increased.

At the opposite extreme is not paying attention to individual words, but that's not what I'm advocating, to be clear. Some might overdo their "lexical approach" to English or language, but that does make the whole approach impractical. I would say then that from the standpoint increasing fluency and understanding, it's possible that linguistics viewpoints and preferences can get in the way.

I might tell someone how to start off an update or how to say something - anything. Sometimes what I suggest is worth viewing, understanding, knowing, and remembering as a phrase, and other times it might not be. It depends on what the phrase or group of words is. However, my understanding of English as a native speaker, along with the ability to analyze and observe, is supported by native speaker intuition which is always on target in matters of how words combine and go together.

Again, this does not mean losing sight of the fact that words still maintain the individual meaning. But that's the problem for some people: they only view words as individual items.

Example: "more than willing to do X". < Knowing what "more than" and "willing" mean is one thing. Learning to use "more than willing" again when you mean "really sincerely want to do something without doubt" is something else. And it's helpful. Commit to memory. Learn it. Use it like a word: "more than willing".

I believe that they will be more than willing to take a risk in the interest of helping the council.
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However, my understanding of English as a native speaker, along with the ability to analyze and observe, is supported by native speaker intuition which is always on target in matters of how words combine and go together. <<

And to be clear, yes, non-native speakers can develop the ability to notice such phrases and, in a way, develop a kind of intuition when it comes to increasing understanding and building fluency. This is not something reserved exclusively as native speaker ability or activity. The idea is to let others know that they can do it to. It's something that takes practice, but it's possible to recognize how words go together and use this to increase fluency. As a practical matter, this approach takes time, and is more of an exploration than a traditional study and learn approach. With a more traditional study and learn approach, progress can be recorded on documents, but that's not to say that recording progress means progress really occurred or that greater progress cannot be achieved by using approaches that are more resistant to record-keeping and documentation. Take good notes and refer to them. Keep passages of text and read them again. Quantifying and documenting an increase in fluency can really turn out to be meaningless at > certain points and depending on how it's done <. It can turn out to be a fool's game: an unjustified boost in optimism and confidence. If it's there, you can recognize it regardless of what's on paper and what's documented.

<<my understanding of English as a native speaker, along with the ability to analyze and observe, is supported by native speaker intuition which is always on target in matters of how words combine and go together. [...] But that's the problem for some people: they only view words as individual items>>

This is the most difficult thing for new teachers (and some not quite so new) to understand - we spend a fair part of our life being taught what is "correct" English (e.g. "you MUSTN'T say "can I go to the bathroom" - you MUST say "May I ....") and not to trust our instincts. Then, we are faced with grammar books, textbooks and so on that tell us things we have never ever thought of - and the first thought is often "That must be right - because I certainly don't know" - even when deep down we sometimes feel like saying "what a load of xxxx".

We have the language in our head - we just need not only the confidence to use our knowledge, but also the tools to use it. I.e. proper analytical techniques, which the vast majority of teachers are not trained to do (even though we often ask our students to do that).

The worst misanalysis technique is to look at one collocation in one context - and assume that that is the meaning of the collocation - which is the opposite side of the equation. We can mislead ourselves by not knowing how to analyse, and therefore assuming that my "instinct" in X case is guiding me right - whereas, in fact, it isn't.
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Then, we are faced with grammar books, textbooks and so on that tell us things we have never ever thought of - and the first thought is often "That must be right - because I certainly don't know" - even when deep down we sometimes feel like saying "what a load of xxxx". <<

Well, it seems as though you really got me started with this one. ;-)

What I do now does not involve grammar books or "learning English" necessarily in the traditional or regular way of learning English. Some of what I do involves discussion and dialog. and I'm still getting used to the idea that highly educated individuals here in Boston and Cambridge say that they benefit from the discussion and dialog part of our meetings: talking about language and discussing it can help. Accent reduction and pronunciation? Yes, guided conversation interview style with a view coaching notes and corrections can help a lot, they tell me. Still, when I started out doing this never did I allow a book - any book - to tell me what is correct and incorrect about my language. I know what is correct, and what I know carries just as much weight as what the author of any books says. Now, having said that, yes, I do use reference books to further my knowledge and understanding of > how to EXPLAIN < because some people do want and like the explanation. So much for the so-called "immersion method". At advanced fluency levels, that does not work - at all - when it comes to gaining more fluency.

I question everything. Just because it's in the book does not make it right. I write the book.

The Wright brothers did not have any experience. Think about it. < Eric Romero posted this.

A formal education, no matter how advanced it is, does not make all people smart or intelligent. I write the book. I once met a very stupid PhDer who thought she knew how to implement a fluency program. It was horrible. We were given materials - horrible materials that she chose just to "have materials". What a wast of money, time, and effort. And looking back on it, as a PhD - very "educated", she should have known that the expected outcome and result of the course was completely unrealistic for the majority of learners in the class. That's called "contract grabbing". And I suppose I was complicit in this. I participated in it, but that's what happens when we have to follow incompetent status quo machinery.

_________________________________


We have the language in our head - we just need not only the confidence to use our knowledge, but also the tools to use it. I.e. proper analytical techniques, which the vast majority of teachers are not trained to do (even though we often ask our students to do that). <<

I've always used the language in my head. And I've progressively developed the ability to > explain it <. Though I admit to being stumped at times as to just how to state why, for example, X correct and Z is not correct. Still, I do very well in the explanation department, generally speaking.
_______________________

The worst misanalysis technique is to look at one collocation in one context - and assume that that is the meaning of the collocation - which is the opposite side of the equation. We can mislead ourselves by not knowing how to analyse, and therefore assuming that my "instinct" in X case is guiding me right - whereas, in fact, it isn't. <<

I recently told someone to not say, "to whom I am speaking'. It was just absolutely ridiculous. Someone learns this non-sense "whom" rule so verywell while at the same time so much of what is far more crucial was never given attention. Stop saying "to whom I am speaking". It's getting in the way. Just say "who I'm speaking to".
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The worst misanalysis technique is to look at one collocation in one context - and assume that that is the meaning of the collocation - which is the opposite side of the equation. We can mislead ourselves by not knowing how to analyse, and therefore assuming that my "instinct" in X case is guiding me right - whereas, in fact, it isn't. <<

And, yes, everything in its individual context, as you may recall I always say in so many words depending on the discussion, is how to focus on any particular language item. Generalizing meaning can and does work, but it just depends on what it is. I would not discount the value of generalizing and recognizing broad meanings of particular words, combinations of words, and expressions.
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Getting back to "take off" - Can a bicycle take off?

http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/wright.htm

The brothers began their experimentation in flight in 1896 at their bicycle shop in Dayton, Ohio.

Yes - a bicycle can "take off" - ET did it.

In a more serious vein : "The safety bicycle took off as mass transport after 1889 when John Boyd Dunlop invented, patented and marketed the first practicable pneumatic tyre."

"One Day My Bicycle Took Flight (Moriah Mylod)

One day my bicycle stood all alone, but on day it sped up all on its own

The wheels spun all around- around and around, and then it started lifting up straight from the ground. Without a single care in the air, it took off.

It started to pick up, towards the golden sky

Growing wings it started to fly right on by

It was up so high now

As it flew up and down like a summer kite

It spun and spun but not like my bike!

As it glided in the sky, the wheels started to go bye bye

It landed perfectly like a crane

This day was nothing short of insane

That was the day my bicycle took flight, some day your bike just might!

Seems like this discussion thread needs to be refocused or split into two. The comments recent comments, though interesting, are pretty far off topic,
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True.

"Horse around" - coming back to that - fits all the "characteristics" of being a "phrasal verb" - however - that fact does not stop us from understanding it from the individual words in the idiom.

Horses horsing around do actually move around in the field or wherever they are.

Jeff Burnham, "Seems like this discussion thread needs to be refocused or split into two. The comments recent comments, though interesting, are pretty far off topic, <<

What's up, Jeff?

You're commenting about what I posted, Jeff. not "commenting on" by the way. I'll reply to what you posted , which is directed at what I posted. ;-)

Jeff, that's how it goes with discussions. They take twists and turns, and such discussions do go off topic, especially after 179 comments. Is that so hard to understand?: It's not for me.

;-)

This discussion does not need to be refocused and does not need to be split in two.
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I now declare this discussion refocused on horsing around.

Let's start commenting on "horsing around" again. There simply never enough to say about horsing around.

And that's not horsing around.
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Here's an amusing postscript to the horsing around discussion.I was at a riding stables yesterday, waiting for my daughter and her friend who were having a lesson and found this notice in their toilet facilities:
"Any children found clowning around in these toilets will be asked to leave and not permitted to return." How interesting that the metaphor obviously didn't work in its 'real' setting, so they found a metaphor from another setting!
Outside in the field the horses were horsing around like mad, of course!
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Nag, when you "put your foot down" you are telling the children to stop horsing around.

that's an elbow grease to stop children horsing around

Nag."elbow grease" means hard work.

yes a hard work u should do to stop children horsing around
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Me
I thank Naghizade for posting this thread and the members for such wonderful vigorous participation. It has been very educative and enlightening as well. I enjoyed the humour, too.

The members seem to have done their best (I admire that) but Naghizade appears to be still thirsty. Very persistent he is. I admire that, too. To my mind, idioms belong as long as people see a need for them. We should learn another's language as is spoken just as we'd expect others to learn our languages as we speak them, just we should find it amusing (to put it mildly) when others tell us how we should speak ours.