Review of Idioms Delight -
Fascinating Phrases
and Linguistic Eccentricities
by Suzanne Brock



I found this book in the language and writing section of my favorite used book store during a routine creep. I'm always on the lookout for books a little off the beaten path to supplement my language learning regimen.

Idioms Delight - Fascinating Phrases and Linguistic Eccentricities by Suzanne Brock is a neat little book that contrasts nicely with the other books in the Romance language section of my little library. There are only so many coursebooks and dictionaries that you can have without overdoing it. Eventually you need something you can learn from but still have a little fun while reading it and not feel like you're 'studying.'

This book is light-hearted but still packed with information about idioms and sayings in French, Spanish, Italian, Latin and English. She notes the similarities and the differences between idioms in these languages. It's not a dictionary of idioms, but a carefully selected sampling of sayings.

What are idioms? Idioms are those little phrases in every language that defy direct translation. They have a colloquial meaning that is learned only in context. Wikipedia uses the phrase 'to kick the bucket' as an example. 'To give the cold shoulder' or 'driving me up the wall' also come to mind. Some are very similar from one language to another, but many are unique to each language. These phrases are the 'icing on the cake' when you are learning another language. Having a handle on these is key to real fluency someday.

Wiktionary describes the term 'I am hungry' as an English idiom and compares this to 'I have hunger' which is typical of Spanish, French and other languages. Wikipedia goes into some detail about the difference between idiom, metaphor, parlance and proverb. Luckily Suzanne Brock wasn't quite so literal when she chose the title and subject of her book. She uses lots of examples which could be defined as idiom, proverb, metaphor or whatever.

She has a lot of fun comparing sayings between languages. Each example shows the uniqueness of each language and sometimes the common bonds between them. It might not be as up to date as information you could get on the internet (via blogs, websites etc - this book was written in 1988) but gives an interesting and entertaining overview of each language and their humorous ways.

As you learn your new langauge, make sure you add a book like this to your language learning library. Find at least one book that isn't so academic or pedantic as grammar books and dictionaries. Search bookstores or online for books that are informative but written for enjoyment. And without a doubt, find at least one good source of idioms.


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Confucius