Idiomatic Expressions

Language is as alive and complex as the culture where it develops. Foreign language users learn how to tackle grammar, pronunciation, and vocabulary but there are certain expressions that may throw off even the most perceptive learner. Idiomatic expressions or “idioms”, as they are called by usage, have a meaning not deducible from those of the individual words. Interpreters are particularly challenged by these expressions as they pop up unexpectedly at any encounter regardless of its nature.

A cardiologist may “bless your heart” just out of concern. Ordering a “baker’s dozen” will give the customer 13 units. No need to touch anyone while joking yet their leg is being pulled. To make matters worse the list is gigantic.


So, what is the best strategy to capture the essence of this lively part of the language? TV and movies are a blessing in disguise. The closed-caption feature is the best of both worlds since it allows the learner to visualize what is being heard. Also, both TV and movies deliver a period of time when the expression is mostly used. In the long run, this could be the best strategy.


For a more traditional learner, the reading may beat the clock. Magazines, newspapers and online sources that know which way the wind is blowing will be the approach.


Music is the ultimate tactic to leave no stone unturned. Idioms become known expressions from drumming them into people’s head. That repetition united to rhythm is the perfect recipe for universalization.


Well begun is half done. Hopefully, the above suggestions will ease your preparation as a language professional and take you to cloud nine. All the idiomatic expressions here are a simple sample of the dynamic element of language and culture. For some these may feel like riding a bicycle, for others it will be shape up or ship out. Once again, language is alive and complex and the way the wind is blowing only training and exposure will keep one ahead. For now, let sleeping dogs lie.