1

Could anyone point me to research papers discussing idioms with similar meaning? Are there any algorithms on how to search for a similar idiom?

For example, these idioms are somewhat similar - they all claim that people can't change themselves:

Leopard can't change its spots

This idiom means that people cannot change basic aspects of their character, especially negative ones.

In your blood

A trait or liking that is deeply ingrained in someone's personality and unlikely to change is in their blood.

What can you expect from a hog but a grunt?

This means that you can't expect people to behave in a way that is not in their character- a 'hog' is a 'pig', so an unrefined person can't be expected to behave in a refined way.

  • Check out Lakoff and Johnson, Metaphors We Live By. All of these are metaphors; many if not most idioms have metaphors behind/beneath/powering them. – John Lawler May 17 '15 at 3:11
  • These are aphorisms: a pithy observation that contains a general truth. – Barmar May 17 '15 at 5:17
  • Thanks! Is there any source where you can input a "general truth" and get bunch of idioms/metaphors/aphorisms supporting this truth? This would be very handy.. – msh May 18 '15 at 3:20
  • The study of proverbs is called paremiology. Though I haven't heard of an online webapp that does what you suggest, it sounds like it might be possible with current ontology development. Without such a convenient app built for you, asking one by one on ELU is probably the best bet given that there are a number of translation/meaning requests here for proverbs. – Mitch May 19 '15 at 1:58
  • 1
    I would argue that your above three examples are not that close in meaning. – Hot Licks May 19 '15 at 2:23
1

This is not necessarily an algorithm, but a way of looking for idioms which have similar meaning would be to visit idiom dictionaries like TheFreeDictionary, Idioms4You, and IdiomCorner. The latter 2 have neat tagging systems which will help you navigate through the database so you can search for similar idioms.

  • Thanks! Yes, these dictionaries give you a way to search idioms by keyword. – msh May 20 '15 at 16:44
1

You need Barron's Educational Series, available from your favourite online monster book store. Such titles as "Spanish and English Idioms". I have the Franch one as well. Don't know how big the series is. http://www.amazon.com/German-Idioms-Barrons-Series/dp/0764143832/ref=pd_sim_14_6?ie=UTF8&refRID=0ZYZN2BSYD5FHAXAAVJR

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.