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Idioms

Idioms are expressions that cannot be understood from the meanings of their separate words but convey a hidden meaning to those who use them. American English has a plethora of idioms. That makes it difficult for foreigners to learn colloquial or street talk even when they may have arrived here speaking "The King's English" I think the same may be true for Aspies. We tend to take words at their literal meaning. This often leads to misunderstandings with our NT friends.

Some American idioms are personal between friends or members of a group. Outsiders need not know the hidden meaning of these idioms because they apply only to those on the inside. Politicians are very adept at speaking with a forked tongue especially when handling a hot potato, or beating around the bush. They are well aware that their favorite project will cost the taxpayer an arm and a leg, yet they can kill two birds with one stone by simply sitting on the fence until their opponent lets the cat out of the bag. If their opponent cuts the mustard, then jumping on the bandwagon would ensure the best of all worlds.

If you are able to understand the previous paragraph, then you already grasp the hidden value in American idioms. But I would caution you not to count your chickens before they hatch. Elvis has not yet left the building.

Comments

My father had a rich vocabulary of these things you call idioms. His were midwestern from farmers. I have exposed to many many New Yorkers, also WWII vets, that have a whole different set of them as well as Chicago Italians from the same era with many unique and shared idioms. I have always been baffled and confused when faced with idiomatic speech. Even when I know the meaning it is not an immediate translation as you experience in normal speech. I don't know as idiomatic speech has value as in my opnion clear speech, honest speech, is preferable to anything else written or spoken.
 
My father had a rich vocabulary of these things you call idioms. His were midwestern from farmers. I have exposed to many many New Yorkers, also WWII vets, that have a whole different set of them as well as Chicago Italians from the same era with many unique and shared idioms. I have always been baffled and confused when faced with idiomatic speech. Even when I know the meaning it is not an immediate translation as you experience in normal speech. I don't know as idiomatic speech has value as in my opnion clear speech, honest speech, is preferable to anything else written or spoken.
Idiomatic speech has high value to those who use and understand it. It is the same value as that which spawns Secret Societies and Cliques: Exclusion of outsiders and strangers.
 

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