Библиографическое описание:

Нурматова М. Р. Body Part Idioms in English and Uzbek: A Contrastive Analysis and Teaching Implications // Молодой ученый. — 2016. — №6. — С. 915-917.

To master language, learning idioms is an important way. They are a typical component of English, and spoken English in particular, and are used more and more widely in everyday conversations. The image of human body parts is contained a large portion of idioms. English and Uzbek are two different languages with their own cultural backgrounds. Besides, language and culture are closely related. An understanding of common idioms will increase comprehension and make conversations more natural in both languages. However, while learning process, idioms present a problem to language learners. They find it hard to understand the meaning of idioms due to their unawareness of and confusion about the similarities and differences between English and Uzbek idioms. As a result, they instinctively avoid trying to produce idioms themselves.

In this article it is aimed that providing students and teachers with necessary information so that they can benefit in their learning and teaching process, particularly in the field of translation and cross-cultural communication. Furthermore, suggestions to solve the problem as well as implications for teaching idioms are also given.

First of all, we are going to focus on what are body part idioms themselves? And people are familiar with their own bodies. A lot of idioms are from human body parts. Some common organs that are used in idioms are Head, eye, ear, mouth, arm, leg, etc. For instance, «keep a cool a head» means «to keep calm in difficult and stressful situation», «don’t see eye to eye» means «don’t agree on something», «keep your chin up» means «something that you say to someone in a difficult situation in order to encourage them to be brave and to try not to be sad» and so on. Body-related idioms reflect the functions of major organs and are frequently used in daily life.

For interpreting reality, language is a tool. Body part images appear frequently in Uzbek and English idioms carrying simile and metaphor meanings and ontological metaphors are used widely. Ontological metaphor is a metaphor in which an abstraction, such as an activity, emotion, or idea, is represented as something concrete, such as an object, substance, container, or person. With the help of following examples, we are going to elicit our ideas:

  1. Get into (someone's) head (to understand what someone thinks and feels so that you can communicate well with him or her)

E. g. I am having a difficult time to get into my friend's head and understand what he is doing.

  1. Get ahead start (to get an advantage when you start doing something or going somewhere, to start early, to leave early)

E. g. I want to get a head start on writing my school essay.

  1. To keep astraight face (To avoid laughing when something is really funny.)

E. g. I thought that it would be funny to tell him that he had won the first prize, but it was difficult to keep astraight face when he was coming towards me.

  1. To have aface like thunder (to have a very angry expression)

E. g. I didn’t know what had happened but I didn’t dare talk to him because he had a face like thunder.

5. To be all ears (to be very eager to hear what someone has to tell us)

E. g. «Do you want me to tell you about my date with Susan yesterday?», «Oh yes, I’m all ears».

  1. To open someone’s eyes (To make someone realize the truth, make someone aware of something)

E. g. Your wife is lying to you, please, open your eyes.

An image underlying a phrase may express either approval or disapproval depending on how a body part functions: a functional use of a body-part suggests approval. On the contrary, if there is an inappropriate function of a body part, it creates disapproval. For instance:

 The head is a container for the brain and head-idioms are evaluated positively as in «Get into (someone's) head» (to understand what someone thinks and feels so that you can communicate well with him or her); «Get ahead start» (to get an advantage when you start doing something or going somewhere, to start early, to leave early); etc.

 We have many hand-idioms denoting positive meaning, such as «to someone ahand» means to give help; «a firm/steady hand on the tiller» (if someone has a firm hand on the tiller, they have a lot of control over a situation); «an old hand» (someone who has done a particular job or activity for a long time and who can do it very well); etc.

 Some negative idioms carrying the image of nose are «can't see beyond/past the end of your nose» (if you can't see beyond the end of your nose, you think so much about yourself and what affects you that you do not see what is really important); «brown-nose» (to try too hard to please someone, especially someone in a position of authority, in a way that other people find unpleasant); etc.

 We also have mouth-idioms referring negative meaning, such as «a big mouth» (if you have a big mouth, you talk too much, especially about things that should be secret); «be down in the mouth» (to be sad); «foot-in-mouth disease» (the tendency to say the wrong thing at the wrong time) and so on.

It is easy to see that negative evaluation prevails. It is also noteworthy that positive evaluation equals negative evaluation in phrases with a component lexeme that denotes a relatively more important organ (head, hand, leg, eye, ear, etc.). Meanwhile, negative evaluation increases in phrases referring to a less functional body part (nose, neck, elbow, etc.).

English and Uzbek are two different languages with different cultural backgrounds but human beings have similar process of thought. Talking about language and idioms in particular, we can recognize a great deal of equivalence between the two languages’ idioms, namely in images and implied messages.

Due to the differences in culture, with the same values of content, the way of expressing ideas through comparative idioms varies among cultures. Such pairs of idioms have the same meanings but different images are used.

As a teacher who has learned English for quite a long time, I find that many students have an obsession with slang and idioms. Idioms are difficult to understand and use correctly.

As for learners, the best time to address the complexity of idioms is at upper-intermediate and advanced levels, when they already have a certain grammatical and lexical foundation. In my experience, there are three steps to bear in mind when learning a new idiom. First of all, it is advisable for learners to find equivalent uzbek idioms of the English ones. In this way, they can install the relation between the two languages; thus, can put them into their long-term memory. Second, learn how to use the idiom in a particular situation. Then, start using the idiom in conversation with others as soon as possible. If we don’t start using it immediately, we will soon forget it. Frequent application of idioms is of great help.

Hopefully this paper can provide teachers with some suggestions and ideas so that they could take them into account to effectively teach idioms, raise the learners’ awareness of idioms so that they should develop a habit of noticing them in everyday situations, including reading and listening. As for learners, a contrastive analysis between English and Uzbek idioms, to some extent, can help them understand metaphor and idioms more deeply, use them more correctly and efficiently, particularly read between the lines.


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5. Byram, Michael (1989). Cultural studies in foreign language education. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

Основные термины (генерируются автоматически): idioms, Uzbek idioms, common idioms, human body parts, English idioms, teaching idioms, Body-related idioms, negative idioms, comparative idioms, negative evaluation, cultural backgrounds, different languages, long time, «an old hand», foreign language education, negative evaluation increases, different cultural backgrounds, spoken English, E., important way.


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