HomeQ&AModismo = Idiom?

Modismo = Idiom?

2
votes

Is the only meaning of the word "modismo" idiom? For me an idiom in English should always create an image / picture in the mind.

9117 views
updated FEB 3, 2010
posted by ian-hill
From the comments below it would seem that the answer is yes. - ian-hill, OCT 1, 2009

11 Answers

2
votes

I am not sure what you mean by "should always create an image in your mind." Were you referring to Spanish modismos that do not create an image in your mind. If so what were these that you were thinking of.

The word idiom has more than one meaning.

  1. It can mean the language or dialect of a people, region, class, etc.
  2. It can be used to describe the usual way in which words of a particular language are joined together to express thought.
  3. It can refer to an accepted phrase construction or expression contrary to the usual patterns, of the language or having a non-literal meaning.

I think that it is probably the last of these that most people think of when they hear the word idiom.

Some examples might be:

That purse caught my eye

He had an axe to grind

I was the black sheep of the family

She gave it a lick and a promise

You look like you've got a hitch in your giddy up today

A little learning is a dangerous thing

While some of these might bring an image to mind, I don't think that is true of all idioms. What do you think?

How about these common English idioms:

It was A OK

I will take all of the above

I suspected that all along

That was my Achilles' heel

That guy spouting off all of those idioms really needs to get a grip

updated FEB 3, 2010
edited by Izanoni1
posted by Izanoni1
Your eamples of "common English idioms" are in my opinion not idioms - the are expressions only. - ian-hill, FEB 3, 2010
1
vote

I think the answer to the basic question is:

Yes, the only meaning of the word "modismo" is "idiom". I think the requirement that an idiom always create a picture is not consistent with the definition of an idiom. My dictionary's definition of "idiom" is consistent with Izanoni's, so I won't quote it, but just reinforce that nothing in the definition requires there be an image.

I think the salient characteristic of "idiom" in the particular way it is most often used, is that it is an expression the meaning of which cannot be understood solely from understanding the literal meaning of the words.

Further complicating things, the Spanish word "idioma" I believe is a false cognate, and "modismo" is more appropriately the translation for the English "idiom", where "idioma" is more appropriately "language" and also "dialect". It can be used for a mode of speaking peculiar to a region, but that is not necessarily the same as an "idiom" as the term commonly used for expressions that cannot be understood from simply being taken literally.

That's my dos centavos. grin

updated FEB 23, 2010
posted by arnold3
An idiom is also an expression that connects words in a way that would not be constructed in the normal manner - Izanoni1, OCT 1, 2009
I like that by the way..."dos centavos" - Izanoni1, OCT 1, 2009
jejeje ... would you say it's an "idiom"? ;-) - arnold3, OCT 1, 2009
Yes it is. - ian-hill, OCT 1, 2009
Even in British English we say "my two cents worth" = "for what it's worth - maybe not much" - ian-hill, OCT 1, 2009
In the US...we say the same...I just hadn't seen it expressed in Spanish before - Izanoni1, OCT 1, 2009
nor me. - ian-hill, OCT 1, 2009
In British English, they should be saying "my tupenny's worth" (which is not to say that I think that they would actually use that idion/phrase). - samdie, OCT 1, 2009
We actually say "my two cents worth" or less often anything indicating two pennies. - ian-hill, OCT 1, 2009
"my two pence worth" is heard sometimes. - ian-hill, OCT 1, 2009
1
vote

I disgree - what you are quoting sometimes above are "idiomatic expressions" that cannot be understood literally - that does not make them idioms in my opinion.

I have heard Spanish speakers here talk about "idiomas" when they mean "idioms" and not just "lenguajes".

Izanoni "Sick as a parrot" means you are miserable

Example.

England 6 - Brazil 0 "I am over the moon" = very happy ( imagine jumping up with joy)

England 0 - Brazil 6 " I am as a sick as a parrot" = miserable (imagine a sick old parrot)

updated OCT 8, 2009
edited by ian-hill
posted by ian-hill
By the way "Why are all these posta getting an "Accept" flag. I didn't do it. - ian-hill, OCT 1, 2009
I think the important thing to not about your response is "in my opinion", the point being that your opinion is not consistent with the definition of "idiom". They may not fit your personal definition, but they do fit the "dictionary" definition. - arnold3, OCT 1, 2009
I don't know what an accep flag means...seems like a reasonable, articulate, and respecftul debate is going on, so I don't know why a flag would be appropriate here. - arnold3, OCT 1, 2009
1
vote

Yes green is used as you say but on it's own "green" is not an idiom. nor is "the green-eyed monster" an idiom - in my opinion.

updated OCT 8, 2009
posted by ian-hill
Fair enough - Izanoni1, OCT 1, 2009
1
vote

The word "idiom" goes back the Greek idio- which means one's own.

When using this in terms of language (i.e. an idiom) you are referring to one's own, personal and distinct use of language (whether the one represents a people, region, country, dialect, etc is not so important)

Let me see if this puts it in perspective.

Take the word green.

In the US (and I am assuming that it is the same in the UK, but I will leave this for you to tell me), green can be used to mean someone that is young and inexperienced, easily duped, simple and naive. This is a modismo characteristic of our respective countries.

In Spanish (at least according to my dictionary) the words used to describe a youth who is verde are joven, vigoroso y lozano.

Do you notice that even though both of these can be used as idioms to describe someone who is young, the English version is somewhat condescending; whereas the Spanish version is more celebratory of use. This represents a difference in the idiomatic usage of the word green/verde. I am sure that both likely originated from the fact that young plants are green, but do you notice that each language has taken that and made it their own. Each country has their own idioms for the use of this word.

As another example, think about the way that green can be used to mean jealousy in the US (and possibly the UK...I don't know but I would assume so since "the green eyed monster" is used in Shakespeare's Othello and The Merchant of Venice).

Now this can be expressed in more than one way

I became green with envy

Jealousy is the green-eyed monster

He was green with envy

I would contend that most people who are familiar with this idiom would not conjure up a mental image for the first and the last sentences, as they might with the second more metaphorical sentence.

updated OCT 8, 2009
posted by Izanoni1
1
vote

OK Izanoni - but what then is the difference between an "idioma" and a "modismo" ?

From my own Pequeño larouse illustrado:

Idioma -

  1. Lengua de una nación: el idioma español (Sinón. Lengua) - The language of a nation: the Spanish language
  2. Modo particular de hablar: en idioma cortesano - A particular manner of speech: language of the court/courtly language

modismo

  1. Modo de hablar propio de una lengua. como a ojos vistas, por claramente, a la vista de todos (Sinon. Idiotismo) - A particluar way to speak one own language/one way or manner to speak a language. *Each of these is a way to basically say clear for the eyes to see, clearly, in plain sight

Note: the English translations are my own and not literal translations

In any case, the words, modismo and idiotismo are synonyms, but they are not synonymous with idioma

Does this clear things up for you? What do you think?

updated OCT 8, 2009
edited by Izanoni1
posted by Izanoni1
I give up. Try teaching English "idioms" to Spanish speakers without the "picture" definition & see how confused the students get. - ian-hill, OCT 1, 2009
Don't you think that what you are trying to teach to the students is actually the use of metaphorical language in certain idiomatic expressions...or does this sound unreasonable? - Izanoni1, OCT 1, 2009
Izanoni has fleshed out my point about "idioma" being different from "idiom". Pictures can help with some, but not all idioms. He makes the point well. - arnold3, OCT 1, 2009
Yes...I am sorry that I did not give you credit for that Arnold...The first time that I looked over the post I overlooked this and did not notice it until I read your comments. Thanks - Izanoni1, OCT 1, 2009
1
vote

In my opinion the last things you quoted (below) are in fact not idioms but rather "expressions" or "colloquialisms".

I am not sure why you do not consider these idioms as they are in fact constructed in a manner that is contrary to the usual patterns or they have a non-literal meaning. This is what I take to be an idiom. I am not sure that all idioms necessarily be metaphors as I think that you are implying.

As far as the distinction made between idioms and colloquialisms, my dictionary (Webster's New World) has this to say about colloquialisms (colloquial expressions) and idioms.

Colloquialism

  1. designated of the words, phrases and idioms characteristic of informal speech an writing
  2. erroneously, a localism or regionalism

idioms

  1. an accepted phrase, construction, or expression contrary to the usual patterns of the language or having a meaning different from the literal (Ex.: not a word did he say)

Now, to me at least, the example listed here, not a word did he say, does not use any imagery and uses no metaphorical language to express the meaning of the sentence. It is simply a construct contrary to the usual pattern and is classified as an idiom as such.

As far as I can tell, an idiom is part and parcel of colloquialisms (at least by the dictionary's standards). I think that it has more to do with a style of speech than with imagery. What are your thoughts on this?

updated OCT 8, 2009
edited by Izanoni1
posted by Izanoni1
You see Izanoni - your dictionary definition uses the word "idiom" to help describe a "colloquialism" . "Not a word did he say" is in my opion not an idiom - it a quite formal way of saying "he said nothing" "he was quiet as a mouse" would be an idiom. - ian-hill, OCT 1, 2009
Actually, the entry that used "not a word did he say" was listed under the heading "idiom" and was not used to specifically define a "colloquialism" - Izanoni1, OCT 1, 2009
A colloquialism is more broadly defined to include "idioms", but can also include words and phrases restricted to a particular people/region (think about some of the different words used in different countries for different words or look at the thread - Izanoni1, OCT 1, 2009
posted yesterday regarding "bocabulario" and regional differences. The definition of colloquial, however, does not diminish the definition of an idiom as a distinctive expression that is contrary to the usual pattern of language - Izanoni1, OCT 1, 2009
1
vote

OK Izanoni - but what then is the difference between an "idioma" and a "modismo" ?

In my opinion the last things you quoted (below) are in fact not idioms but rather "expressions" or "colloquialisms".

It was A OK

I will take all of the above

I suspected that all along

That was my Achilles' heel

That guy with all those idioms really needs to get a grip

I DO think all true idioms should bring an image to our mind's eye.

Examples:

"Over the moon"

"Like a house on fire"

"Sick as a parrot"

"Up the creek without a paddle" etc.

updated OCT 8, 2009
edited by ian-hill
posted by ian-hill
I believe the difference is the "idioma" is a synonym for "lenguaje" and just means "language" and not the English word "Idiom" where "modismo" refers to the English "idiom". So, you might say "idioma" is a false cognate. - arnold3, OCT 1, 2009
Jeje..."sick as a parrot" I have never heard that one (is that in reference to the green color of a parrot, I wonder?) - Izanoni1, OCT 1, 2009
The image requirement seems personal to me. The definition of "idiom" doesn't require that, and this the first I've encountered anyone requiring it. Maybe it's an idiomatic definition ;-) - arnold3, OCT 1, 2009
1
vote

I'm not sure if this is what you meant, but,an idiom that does not create an image for me would be "de vez en cuando" (from time to time).

updated OCT 8, 2009
posted by Nicole-B
I don't think this is an idiom - it is a perfectly normal "expression". - ian-hill, OCT 1, 2009
I think that perhaps you are making an artificial distinction between an "expression" and an "idiom." By your definition of the term "expression," would 'idioms" be a subset of "expressions" or vice versa? Is an "idiom" an "abnormal expression?" - Izanoni1, OCT 1, 2009
0
votes

In my opinion the last things you quoted (below) are in fact not idioms but rather "expressions" or "colloquialisms".

Well... modismo (as I've heard it used) could reasonably be translated "colloquialism" or "colloquial expression".

updated OCT 1, 2009
edited by Valerie
posted by Valerie
0
votes

manerismo, locución, expresión, giro, dicho

mondo y lirondo; unadultered, pure and simple

updated OCT 1, 2009
edited by 00b83c38
posted by 00b83c38
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