There’s A Bear Tap-Dancing

I love the English language. Partly for all those wonderful words we’ve got – ones like ‘rambunctious’, ‘disgruntled’, ‘fractious’ and ‘bellicose’.

But individual words are only part of it. Then there are all those marvellous idioms – some of which make sense (kind of) and some of which seem just plain mad.

It’s only since I started teaching English to foreigners that I’ve realised how confusing our language can be. Not only do my students have to cope with all those inconsistencies and weird spellings, they’ve also got to get their heads around phrases such as ‘like water off a duck’s back‘ and ‘as sick as a parrot‘.

Some idioms are fairly obvious – ‘it’s just a drop in the ocean‘ or ‘to get a taste of your own medicine‘ don’t take that much working out.

But what about ‘having a chip on your shoulder‘? Or ‘a back of a fag packet calculation‘? (You’ve also got to know the difference between British and American English for that one!)

With stronger students, I like trying to teach them plenty of idioms. A couple that always get a smile are ‘to kick the bucket‘ and ‘he’s pushing up the daisies‘.

But it’s not just us English speakers who pepper our language with strange sayings. There’s a post on the Oxford Dictionaries blog all about German idioms. Apparently, if you want to encourage someone to come along to a party, you tell them there’s going to be a tap-dancing bear there. Logical really. Who wouldn’t want to see a tap-dancing bear.

As for the video below, it’s got nothing to do with idioms but it appealed to my sense of humour!


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