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"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more

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Media: LATimes: Body Part Idioms

Submitter: Karen Chung

Submitter Email: karchung@ntu.edu.tw
Linguistic Field(s): Language Documentation

Media Body: She Has It in Her Head to Clarify Sayings

By J. Michael Kennedy, Times Staff Writer

After all those years of slinging hash and refilling coffee mugs, May Pare
found herself up to her eyeballs in a collection of sayings that would blow
the mind of someone trying to learn English.

She had hundreds of these sayings, many of them overheard and scribbled
down while she was waiting tables at Shakers restaurant in Glendale, where
she's worked on and off — but mostly on — for the last 30 years.

The result of her work is a self-published 363-page book that deals
exclusively with body part idioms, in chapters ranging from butt to breath
and head to toes.


The book, 'Body Idioms and More,' is designed to help foreign-born students
who would otherwise throw up their hands in dismay at the odd sayings, some
of which give no clue to their real meaning.

Pare (pronounced Paray) is a scholar of the English language, her specialty
both as a student and as a college teacher in her native Thailand. Later,
she earned her master's degree from UCLA, with a specialty in English as a
second language.

Linguist Anthony Aristar said it doesn't surprise him that Pare has come up
with so many idioms that deal only with body parts.

'English has a huge vocabulary, much more than most languages,' said
Aristar, who manages the Linguist List website, which has more than 21,000
subscribers. 'One thing it loves to do is borrow. English grammar is so
simple you can insert all sorts of things into it.'

Aristar said he would not be surprised if most of Pare's idioms are found
in other such collections, but singling out body parts makes her work unusual.


Free registration required to access article.

Karen Steffen Chung
Issue Number: 17.199
Date Posted: January 20, 2006

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