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Cultural and Linguistic Encounters

Arab EFL Learners Encoding and Decoding Idioms


Anissa Daoudi

Idioms are universal to all languages, and figurative language is pervasive in everyday discourse. However, idiom studies rarely touch on the problems figurative language can present to non-native speakers. This book sets out to provide an original analysis of the issue, focusing on a number of languages, including Arabic, Berber, French and English. The author addresses the question of idiomaticity from linguistic, psycholinguistic and pedagogical perspectives, highlighting in particular the strategies used by Arab learners (primarily Saudis and Algerians) to decode and encode idioms.
The book explores in detail the process of identifying idioms and the factors that affect comprehension. The author also analyses the current state of bilingual Arabic-English-Arabic dictionaries and asks to what extent learners can rely on them as a source for decoding idioms.


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Chapter FiveConclusion and Future Directions 133


CHAPTER FIVE Conclusions and Future Directions The fields of linguistics and psycholinguistics have experienced tremendous growth of research into figurative language, and idioms particularly, in the last two decades (Howarth, 2004). A number of theories and models have been developed in an attempt to find answers to questions surrounding idiom comprehension, storage and production. The majority of research has been carried out with monolingual language users, a substantially smaller number of studies have concentrated on how second language learners cope with the figurative language (Cieślicka, 2004, 2006). This book aims to fill existing gaps by highlighting issues related to idiom identification/ recognition, comprehension and production. This book has outlined the major theories and models in the field of phraseology in order to demonstrate the evolution of ideas in this area of study. From these models, a simplified definition of an idiom has been adopted for the purpose of this book: An idiom is a group of words which, as a whole, has a dif ferent meaning from the individual words it contains. Furthermore an idiom is a form of expression, grammatical construction and/or phrase which is particular to a language. This peculiarity is approved and often has significance other than the purely grammatical or logical interpretation. The concept of peculiarity was substantive to this study. This framework was based on the belief that when dealing with idioms, learners go through three interrelated stages of no particular order, which has been referred to: the identification/recognition, comprehension and production phases/levels. In...

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