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Moving from B2 to C2

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Serpent
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 Message 145 of 177
24 February 2015 at 6:23pm | IP Logged 
Good way to sum it up. I'd say the tired clichés are boring but necessary for comprehension. They are almost never used as is anymore, but are common as basis for puns.

I agree that idiomatic collocations are mostly needed way before C1. But just like with grammar, vocab, register, it's more important to get them 100% right at C1-C2. At A1 even a messed up idiom is impressive. At C2 even a correct one often isn't.

Edited by Serpent on 24 February 2015 at 7:23pm

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1e4e6
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 Message 146 of 177
24 February 2015 at 11:39pm | IP Logged 
robarb wrote:

Here in the USA, we say "taking a piss." The guy must've just picked it up without
realizing it was a regionalism.

I don't think (and I don't think s_allard is saying) that the key is to use idioms
more or to know more idioms. The
idea is that using them correctly and when appropriate makes you seem like a
significantly more skilled language
user.


This is part of the problem, I know that " to take a piss" as a meaning to "urinate"
is actually used in all parts of the Anglopshere. However, "to take the piss" meaning
"to joke" or "to make fun of someone" is exclusive to the UK and most Commonwealth
countries. He confused the two and instead of meaning "I was just joking, guys...", he
ended up meaning, "I was just urinating, guys..." due to a poor grasp of how to use
the idiom correctly, or mixing them up. Unfortunately we never corrected him, so he
may still be talking like this...

In terms of idioms, I still believe in care and precision on when and in which context
to use them. I, a native Anglophone, often do not understand most idioms in English or
figurative expressions. For example, when I was watching the 2008 final of the
Champions League live, between Manchester United and Chelsea, when John Terry made a,
let us say, mistake on the 5th penalty, he said in a press conference about the
incident that he wears his heart on his sleeve. I had no idea what this means, and
still up to now not exactly sure what it means, but the first idea that I had was that
it had something to do with angina pectoris, but I doubt that this would be the
case during a press conference. I never bothered to look up this idiom, although I
hear it a few times, because looking up idioms in my own native language feels weird.
If a non-native used it, I would prefer that she or he have just said whatever they
meant in more literal, straightforward terms.

There are also certain things that sound very odd if a non-native uses or overuses
them, for exampel in English, I hear many, even with C+ level English, say "gonna" in
formal speeches or formal presentations. To me, this sounds totally unprofessional and
strange, even juvenile, it sounds like they are just copying something from
Friends or Coronation Street without knowing how weird it sounds.

I would also advise caution on overusing nice sounding grammatical constructions to
the point of irritation. I had a classmate that eventually had a nickname of "Asper"
because as a non-native, he kept using the formal construction "as per" in speech,
almost every second sentence that it was beyond ridiculous. "As per my schedule, I
think I am going to go get lunch. Then I have to go buy some groceries as per usual.
Are you all going to be ready after, as per always?" It was more than strange, but
just completely irritating. I would advise to use a variety of constructions, and know
when to use them.

For example, "I gonna explain the effects of isentropic systems for a condenser
in a system that is in thermodynamical equilibrium" to me sounds not only odd, but
silly and unprofessional if someone said this. It sounds bad for a native, but sounds
just even weirder for a non-native. It would be like if I worked in a Hispanophone
country and if the boss summoned me, I responded, «Joder, ¡m'as pillao meio liao
eh!»

Edited by 1e4e6 on 25 February 2015 at 12:16am

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robarb
Nonaglot
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languagenpluson
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 Message 147 of 177
25 February 2015 at 3:16am | IP Logged 
1e4e6 wrote:

This is part of the problem, I know that " to take a piss" as a meaning to "urinate"
is actually used in all parts of the Anglopshere. However, "to take the piss" meaning
"to joke" or "to make fun of someone" is exclusive to the UK and most Commonwealth
countries. He confused the two and instead of meaning "I was just joking, guys...", he
ended up meaning, "I was just urinating, guys..." due to a poor grasp of how to use
the idiom correctly, or mixing them up. Unfortunately we never corrected him, so he
may still be talking like this...


Oh, my mistake. I had never heard of the joking meaning. Which just illustrates that this level of idiom is not part
of the knowledge of an English speaker in general. It may be used in particular groups, but it's essentially outside
the domain covered by the proficiency levels.

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patrickwilken
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Germany
radiant-flux.net
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 Message 148 of 177
25 February 2015 at 10:00am | IP Logged 
robarb wrote:

Oh, my mistake. I had never heard of the joking meaning. Which just illustrates that this level of idiom is not part
of the knowledge of an English speaker in general. It may be used in particular groups, but it's essentially outside
the domain covered by the proficiency levels.


But isn't that true for idioms in general unless the language is very small and homogeneous?

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tarvos
Super Polyglot
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 Message 149 of 177
25 February 2015 at 2:34pm | IP Logged 
Serpent wrote:
I meant deliberate creativity though, not trying to pass off the usual
mistakes as that.


That's pretty much most deliberate creativity in my experience :)
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s_allard
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 Message 150 of 177
25 February 2015 at 2:51pm | IP Logged 
patrickwilken wrote:
robarb wrote:

Oh, my mistake. I had never heard of the joking meaning. Which just illustrates that this level of idiom
is not part
of the knowledge of an English speaker in general. It may be used in particular groups, but it's
essentially outside
the domain covered by the proficiency levels.


But isn't that true for idioms in general unless the language is very small and homogeneous?

I'm not sure if this post is referring only to the specific idiom in question or to all idioms in general,
which seems to be the case. It is true that many expressions, especially in the informal spoken
language, may be regional but idiomatic speech in general is extremely common. I don't see what use
of idioms has to do a language being small and homogenous.

Perhaps the issue is what do we mean by idiomatic speech. The fundamental idea of an idiom is that
there exists two kinds of meaning: the literal and the figurative. Although we usually think of idioms as
units of two or more words, it could be argued that metaphorical use of single words could also
constitute an idiom.

I suggest that native-level language is heavily idiomatic, spoken more than written. As I write this, I
notice in today's Guardian the following headline:

In Britain's labour market 'flexibility' means letting employers off the hook

I think that all educated adult speakers of English know what "to be let off the hook" means. If you
watch any television or movie fiction, you will continuously hear language used metaphorically. This is
not to say that everything is metaphoric; speakers move seamlessly between the literal and the
figurative.

The real problem is when and how to use the figurative. You probably shouldn't use old clichés such as
"burning the midnight oil" but there is a lot more to idiomatic speech than that.
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robarb
Nonaglot
Senior Member
United States
languagenpluson
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 Message 151 of 177
26 February 2015 at 6:25am | IP Logged 
s_allard wrote:

I'm not sure if this post is referring only to the specific idiom in question or to all idioms in general


What I meant is that idioms with the level of group-specificity of "to take the piss" are outside the scope of a
proficiency test. Whether someone knows it has little to no bearing on their status as an English speaker. On the
other hand, a more widely used idiom like "to be let off the hook" would appear in written texts intended for a
general international audience, and essentially all native speakers will understand it. These should be fair game
for testing.

The language doesn't have to be small and homogeneous, but the whole idea of having a single test for the
language assumes that there is some common knowledge shared by speakers of that language. I believe this is
the case across UK to USA English, although it really would be better to test them separately. On the other hand,
there would probably be no point in using a separate test for California vs. New York English, since almost
everything is common knowledge across both of those places, even though the speech itself is hardly
"homogeneous."

s_allard wrote:

I think that all educated adult speakers of English know what "to be let off the hook" means. If you
watch any television or movie fiction, you will continuously hear language used metaphorically. This is
not to say that everything is metaphoric; speakers move seamlessly between the literal and the
figurative.

The real problem is when and how to use the figurative. You probably shouldn't use old clichés such as
"burning the midnight oil" but there is a lot more to idiomatic speech than that.


True, but it's also the case that one cannot help but speak metaphorically. It doesn't require any specific
ability in the target language to do perfectly natural things like using language about physical distance to talk
about abstract similarity, or using language about up/down to talk about things that are good/bad. Sure, there
will be some metaphorical associations that are used differently by speakers of the target language, so errors can
arise here. But it's not clear that this is a particularly large contributor to holding advanced learners back.

Edited by robarb on 26 February 2015 at 6:32am

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tarvos
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 Message 152 of 177
07 March 2015 at 3:12am | IP Logged 
Even if you don't know idioms like this there's always context to help you out. There are
many things I don't understand in isolation but if I see idioms in context, then I can
figure it out.


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