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Gumilyov Eurasian National University

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1 Gumilyov Eurasian National University
APPLYING A COGNITIVE APPROACH TO TEACHING FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE IN TEFL CLASSES Saltanat Meiramova Gumilyov Eurasian National University IATEFL 2012

2 The Figurative Language Theory
Psychological (Gibbs & O’Brien 1990; Gibbs 1997; Nayak & Gibbs 1990) Cognitive (Lakoff 1980) Linguistic (Boers 1999, 2004; Skovfaki 2008) Trim (2007) Inesta and Pamies (2002) Sweetser (1990)

3 What is figurative or metaphorical language?
Expressions – to carry coals to Newcastle, to burn one’s boats, to trickle a water Words: to blossom, healthy, burning; headache, recipe, roots Proverbs: Birds of a Feather, Every cloud has a silver lining; No pain no gain Figurative language is represented by many figures of speech to achieve a special effect or meaning. Figurative or metaphorical language takes many forms. They are: expressions such as to be at a crossroads or to shake like a leaf. There are many words which can have both literal and metaphorical meanings: verbs such as to blossom, to trickle and to wound; adjectives such as healthy, half-baked and burning; nouns such as headache, recipe and roots. There are proverbs which by their very nature can only be understood metaphorically, e.g. Birds of a feather flock together, there is no smoke without fire. While these are now sometimes considered rather clichéd, they still form part of the natural repertoire of most native speakers of English. All these forms of figurative or metaphorical language have one thing in common. In classical rhetoric, the term metaphor comes from Greek meta expressing ‘change’, and pherein meaning ‘to carry’. Metaphors thus involve a ‘carrying across’ of meaning from one object to another. An identification is made between two apparently dissimilar things, so that some of the characteristics of the one are ‘carried over’ to the other. For example, if in the dictionary a ‘trickle of water’ means a very small quantity of water that flows slowly, then a ‘trickle of visitors’ means a small number of people who arrive gradually or in small groups. If a television sitcom in English is called Birds of a Feather, viewers implicitly understand that this alludes to the proverb, and know that the programme features people who are in some way similar to each other, rather than different species of birds.

4 Figurative Language Imagery Personification Metaphors Alliteration
Similes Alliteration Figurative Language Imagery Hyperbole Idioms Onomatopoeia

5 Comparative analysis of Idioms classification
The Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms (1993) Gibbs (1994) Fernando & Flavell (1981), Glaser (1988) Weinreich (1972), Gläser (1988)

6 Findings Oxford dictionary (1993) vs Fernando & Flavell (1981), Glaser (1988) - to burn one’s boats Cross-cultural issues: Jack of all trades, open the gate The Oxford Dictionary (1993) vs Weinreich (1972), Gläser (1988) - cold war, black market blow one’s trumpet and wet blanket pushing up daisies and apple of one’s eye

7 Comparative analysis of colour idioms in English, French, Russian and Kazakh
The English ‘to feel blue’ means ‘be depressed’ while in Russian “голубой” (literally: light blue) means to be homosexual. In Kazakh culture blue associates with the sky and symbolizes power, purity and masculine In French culture blue represents freedom. It exists in the French flag today originated around the time of the Revolution. ‘blue-blooded’ refers to ‘to be from noble or aristocratic descent’ in French ‘avoir du sang bleu’, in Russian быть голубой крови and in Kazakh it turns ‘white’ (ақ сүіек).

8 Comparative analysis of colour idioms in English, French, Russian and Kazakh
English idiom black list -‘list of suspects’ has formally and semantically equivalent structures both in French, Russian and Kazakh: liste noire, черный список, қара тізім. English ‘a black day’ (for someone/something) - an unhappy day when something bad or sad happens/ un jour noire/черный день/ басына қара бұлт төну - this meaning is shared in all four languages. English ‘black and blue’ - having bruises on the body after an accident, fight etc. Also in French ‘noire et bleu’, ‘сплошь в синяках’ in Russian and ‘көк ала қойдай’ turns in Kazakh (literary: as a parti-coloured sheep) The semi-opaque English idiom black list which means ‘list of suspects’ has formally and semantically equivalent structures both in French, Russian and Kazakh: черный список,қара тізім.

9 Comparative analysis of colour idioms in English, French, Russian and Kazakh
‘red light’ refers to sell sex and pornography in many countries, e.g. in Russian «улица красных фонарей» (literary: the street of red lamps) but not in Kazakh. ‘the red carpet’ shares the meaning of ‘welcoming or attention for an important visitor’ in all 4 languages. Red (in politics) means in French ‘les rouges’’, in Russian ‘красные’ and in Kazakh ‘қызылдар’ associated with ‘the communists’ and ‘revolution’ Discussion

10 Comparative analysis of colour idioms in English, French, Russian and Kazakh
‘a white night’ - J'ai passe une nuit blanche means ‘to have a sleepless night’ in French, Russian, but not in English and Kazakh. English ‘white collar worker’s meaning ‘a non-manual worker’ is equivalent to French ‘un travailleur de cols blanc’, Russian ‘белый воротничок or белоручка’, and Kazakh ‘ақ жағалылар’. And in Russian and Kazakh it has a slightly negative meaning. English ‘a white lie’ is a lie which does no harm and is more polite than the truth in French ‘un mensonge blanc’, in Russian ‘ложь во спасение’ or ‘безвинная ложь’ and in Kazakh ‘бейкүнә өтірік’. Discussion

11 Comparative analysis of colour idioms in English, French, Russian and Kazakh
The Greens associates with Greenpeace, youth and environmentalists in all 4 languages. ‘green with envy’ has negative meaning ‘to be extremely envious of someone or something’ in Russian ‘позеленеть от гнева, злости and in French with ‘une colère bleue’ and in Kazakh ‘ашудан көгеру’ turns blue. English ‘as green as grass’ means in French ‘vert comme herbe’ (be inexperienced), in Russian ‘быть молодым, неопытным новичком’ (new to something) and in Kazakh ‘ашық ауыз’ (naive). ‘green’ also in Russian refers to dollars (зеленые).

12 How to teach figurative language
Thornbury (2002) Wright (1999) Bartlett (1932) - ‘Effort aftermeaning’

13 Why teach figurative language?
to increase knowledge of vocabulary to organise and memorise new words to integrate skills work to improve language awareness and use It is useful for learners of English to increase their knowledge of figurative language for many reasons. Firstly, introducing figurative language in the classroom can be an effective way of expanding students vocabulary. Once students learn literal meaning of particular words, their vocabulary can be greatly extended if they are then able to use these words figuratively (e.g. words such as to bloom or to blossom which have both literal and metaphorical meanings). This strategy for increasing vocabulary can be particularly motivating for students who seem to have reached a plateau in their learning, or who are on exam-oriented courses, such as First Certificate in English and Certificate of Proficiency in English where high levels of lexical knowledge are required. Secondly, figurative language provides a handy and memorable way of organising new vocabulary to be learned. Most teachers and students are familiar with the notion of a lexical set, where vocabulary is grouped according to topic area. But particular lexical areas can also be extended to create ‘metaphorical sets’. Examples of these might include weather vocabulary to describe behaviour and relationships, or taste vocabulary to describe people’s character and behaviour. By presenting vocabulary as part of these ‘metaphorical sets’ teachers can help students to organise and remember new words. Focusing on figurative language in the classroom provides a way to exposing students to useful idioms (e.g. to lend a hand) and common collocations (e.g. a hail of bullets – град пуль). By presenting idioms and collocations coherently as examples of figurative language which fit into metaphorical sets, teachers can make learning them both more meaningful and more memorable for students. Finally, activities incorporating figurative language can provide a useful springboard for integrated skills work, i.e. stimulating reading, speaking and writing skills. Teachers should create activities which are designed to improve the students’ overall language awareness and to encourage them to use English more confidently and imaginatively.

14 Identifying literary and non-literal meaning
Questioning and answering practice to help the idioms meanings guessing or drawing the word association for a colour. When a very important person arrives in your country what colour of carpet is rolling out for then to walk on? What colour makes you to remember that day? In your language what colour do you use to describe bruises? Do you have idioms in your language which have the same meaning as some of these? a storm in a teacup; to have your heart in your mouth; to drink like a fish; to kill two birds with one stone

15 Communicating the values of culture
Explain to students that metaphors and similes often express particular values in different cultures even if these are not very obvious. Show the students how to use the introduction to set out what the rest of the text would be about. Point out to students that metaphors and similes can range from the traditional (in dictionaries) to the fresh and newly invented. E.g. green for currency. Explain that colour associations can vary greatly and awareness of this would help students to avoid cultural stereotyping around colour. E.g. black in a black mood, black market, black humour.

16 Developing awareness/ ‘Effort aftermeaning’ (Bartlett 1932)
1. What domain of experience do you think the following idiom comes from? a white elephant 2. Le monde appartient à ceux qui se lèvent tôt. The early bird catches the worm. Кто рано встает, тому бог дает. importance/violence expencive/useless Games/sports The world belongs to those who get up early.

17 Source: 1. Albino elephants were so rare in Siam (modern Thailand) that they automatically became property of the king who would give them to subjects he disliked. Since it was forbidden to use it for work, the elephant would sometimes bankrupt the subject. So, it means – a large, useless and extremely expensive possession

18 Identifying metaforical meaning; using English creatively
What is the figurative meaning of the following idiom: ‘to be in the red’ Colour idioms To be angry To be in debt To embarrass A white night A black day Once in a blue moon

19 Similar & practically coincide

20 Similar & practically coincide
English French Russian Kazakh Live a cat –and-dog life Vivre une vie de chat et de chien Жить как кошка с собакой Ит-мысық болып өмір сүру Be in seventh heaven D'être au septième ciel Быть на седьмом небе Төбесі кокке жету To play with fire Jouer avec le feu Играть с огнём Oтпен ойнау

21 Partly similar but comprehended

22 Partly similar but comprehended
English French Russian Kazakh To be on somebody’s hands Sur les mains de quelqu'un Быть связанным по рукам и ногам Жіпсіз байлану To promise wonders Promettre merveilles Сулить златые горы Аспандағы айды уәде ету To be in one’s element Doit être un élément Быть в своей стихии Өзін-өзінше сезу

23 Different and sometimes present difficulties

24 Different and sometimes present difficulties
English French Russian Kazakh Neither down nor feather Ni bas ni plume Ни пуха ни пера! Тисе терекке, тимесе бұтаққа A load off one’s mind Oter un poids à quelqu’un Как гора с плеч свалилась Арқасынан ауыр жүк түсу

25 Teaching in context I was feeling a bit down in the dumps because it was raining cats and dogs, so I went to see Bill. Bill drinks like a fish because his work drives him up the wall. He is an EFL teacher. But he would never leave you in the lurch. Today I found him like a cat on hot bricks because he was bored. We decided to kill two birds with one stone by going to the pub and the launderette. We had a bone to pick with the barman in any case because he had forgotten to reserve the dartboard for us the previous day. We decided that not to go to the pub in protest would be just cutting off our noses to spite our faces. We did not want to make a mountain out of a molehill either.

26 Consolidation Choose the colour which completes the idiom– black or white: HAF 399 ‘I used to be the _____ sheep of the family,’ he said. (17) F9W 728 In English, there is even a term for the surrender of truth to politeness: ‘a _____ lie’. (14) (BNC) Look back at the idioms of the lesson and add the missing colour: There’s too much _________ tape. I do it once in a _________ moon. It was a bolt out of the _________.

27 Consolidation Figure out which technique is being used?
AT He was as white as a sheet. (22) JXU 4344 It was like driving on black ice.(8) Answer: Simile Q.: How do you figure? A.: comparing using “as”, “like” (BNC) Write down any metaphors or similes you know in English and discuss them with your partner. Match the expressions with their definitions. Discuss whether the meaning of the expression is linked to the general associations for the colour, e.g. white lie, which suggests a lie that is ‘pure’ or ‘innocent’.

28 Consolidation Idiom Quizzes – Colors Choose an idiom to replace the expression in the brackets: The government finally gave the city (permission) to build the new airport. (a) the green light (c) once in a blue moon (b) a horse of a different color (d) red tape I go to the swimming pool only (rarely) although I love to swim. (a) green around the gills (c) in the red (b) with flying colors (d) once in a blue moon Our company has been (losing money) for three years now. (a) rolling out the red carpet (c) in the red (b) yellow-bellied (d) green

29 Summing up the procedure
Phase one: awareness of the origin of the idiom objective: to explore figurative associations for idioms and how they differ or similar cross-culturally Phase two: identifying the meaning of the idiom objective: to present and practise expressions and collocations connected with idioms, cross-cultural problems Phase three: consolidation

30 Conclusion Encourage students to learn ‘language chunks‘ to remember them better and use them appropriately Encourage students to play creatively with language To promote cognitive analytic activity To match idioms/metaphors with a jumbled list of definitions The existence of common patterns of idiomacity in English, French, Russian and Kazakh seems to be the result of a commonly shared human experience

31 References Seidl, J., McMordie, W. (1988). English Idioms. 5th edition of English Idioms and How to Use Them. Oxford University Press. Lazar, G. (2003). Meanings and Metaphors. Activities to practise figurative language. Cambridge University Press. Lakoff, G. And Johnson, M. (1980). Metaphors We Live By. Chicago Kovecses, Z. And Szabo, P. (1996). Idioms: A view from cognitive semantics. In Applied Linguistics. Vol. 17/3. Lewis, Michael. (2000). Teaching Collocation. Further development in the Lexical Approach. Thomson, Heinle. p.132. The Oxford Dictionary of Current Idiomatic English Sinclair, J. (1991). Corpus, Concordance, Collocation. Oxford Press. Fernando, C. (1996). Idioms and Idiomaticity. Oxford University Press Ter–Minasova, S. (1996). Language, Linguistics and Life: A view from Russia, Moscow State University Association. Murphy M.L. (2010). Lexical meaning. Cambridge University Press. Nattinger J.R. and DeVarrico J.S. (1992). Lexical Phrases and Language Teaching. Oxford University Press.

32 Thank you for your kind attention!


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