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RE: Definition of idiom

From: Gregg Vanderheiden <gv@trace.wisc.edu>
Date: Sun, 5 Mar 2006 15:28:58 -0600
To: <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Message-ID: <002b01c6409b$d1871fc0$ee8cfea9@NC6000BAK>

Christophe, I think this is very close.  The last phrase is the only part
that seems to jump off into linguistic land.

<quote>
a group of words whose meaning cannot be deduced from the meaning of the
individual words and which typically allows little or no syntactic
alteration
</quote>


How about

<proposal>

Idiom

group of words whose meaning cannot be deduced from the meaning of the
individual words and where you can't change the wording very much without
losing the intended meaning.

Example 1: "kicking the bucket" means dying. But you can't change it to
"kicking the buckets"  or  "kicking the tub" or "booting the bucket" or
"knocking over the bucket" without losing its meaning (unless someone
converts it back into "kicking the bucket" in their head).

Example 2: "spilling the beans" means revealing a secret.  However "knocking
over the beans" or "spilling the vegetables" does not mean the same thing
(unless someone translates it back into "spilling the beans").

Example 3: The phrase in Japanese <span lang="jp"> さじを投げる(どうするこ
ともできなくなり、あきらめること</span>
literally translates into "he threw a spoon". But it means that there was
nothing he could do and finally he gave up.

Example 4: The Dutch phrase
<span lang="nl">Hij ging met de kippen op stok</span> literally translates
into "He went to roost with the chickens".  But it means that he went to bed
early.

</proposal>





Gregg

 -- ------------------------------
Gregg C Vanderheiden Ph.D.
Professor - Ind. Engr. & BioMed Engr.
Director - Trace R & D Center
University of Wisconsin-Madison
The Player for my DSS sound file is at http://tinyurl.com/dho6b
Received on Sunday, 5 March 2006 21:28:59 GMT

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