Tongue is indispensable
part of our everyday language. It is literally and metaphorically used and
understood by different kinds of people. People usually tend to use the
non-literal meanings of tongue or tongue idioms to describe people and to
express how they see the behavior of different people.
idiom as it is defined in Webster New World is an expression that is unusual to
itself. Grammatically, it cannot be
understood from the individual meanings of its elements e.g. A hot potato – Speak of an issue (mostly current) which many people
are talking about and which is usually unclear. Culture plays an
important role in the course of the idiom interpretation. Idioms have been
defined in various ways by English linguists, grammarians and educators. To
take just a few of these definitions.
according to Bolinger (1975:63), are “groups of words with set meanings
that cannot be calculated by adding up the separate meanings of the parts”
(as cited in Lattey, 1986:219). Thus, with idioms a user cannot normally change the order of the
words in them,
delete a word from them,
replace a word with another For example, kick
the bucket cannot occur as kick the pot.
Or change their grammatical
structure unless he or she is intentionally making a joke or trying a play on
words. The old man kicked the bucket. ? the
bucket was kicked (by the old
man). For example, the phrase ” have a word with somebody” means “to
speak with him” but by using the plural” have words with somebody” the meaning
changes to “to quarrel with somebody”. Therefore, Lattey (1986:219) points out
that “as far as the form of idioms is concerned, we have groups of words,
and in terms of meanings, and we can say that we are dealing with new, not
readily apparent meanings when we confront idioms”.
his attempt to coin a comprehensive definition, Ghazala (2003:204) defines
idioms as “special, metaphorical, fixed phrases whose meanings and forms
are not negotiable”. Idioms, like any other aspect of a given language,
are of two types in terms of their meanings: universal and language or
culture-specific. That is, they may have universal meanings which are common to
many languages, or specific meanings which are, due to linguistic and/or
cultural restrictions, confined to the speakers of that particular language and
cannot be easily understood by speakers of other languages.
Cognitive linguistics, which is a relatively
modern school of linguistics, has originally emerged in the early 1970s. It has
been assumed by cognitive linguists that language reflects our conceptual
structure and organization. They further argue that there exists a common
conceptualizing capacity, which derives from shared aspects of human cognition.
Lakoff and Johnson (1980:59) maintain that people generally conceptualize the
‘nonphysical’ in terms of the ‘physical’, and the main source of our physical
experience in the world is our body and its interaction with the environment.
Such view proposes that one of the most predominant source domains by which we
understand target domains is the human body.
The phenomenon of idiomaticity and idiomatic
expressions in the Arabic language has been exclusively tackled in the Arabic
rhetoric by many ancient and modern Arabic writers. Rhetoric is defined by
Arabic linguists as “a science by which the stating of a single meaning in
different ways, with a clear indication to it is
known”. This science studies the figurative expressions which means,
saying something and meaning something else and the original meaning of the
expression is not related to what is meant. For example
“For you or for the wolf?” ??? ??? ?????
to the wolf’.??? ?????
claim in the Cognitive Linguistics is that there is a relationship between the
conceptual system and the linguistic system. The same principles and
motivational forces operate in both. Motivation is a central phenomenon in
cognitive linguistics. We can talk about the motivation of something in
language or thought when that thing is neither arbitrary nor predictable:
“The relationship between A and B is motivated just in case there is an
independently existing link, L, such that A-L-B ‘fit together’. L makes sense
of the relationship between A and B (Lakoff l987:448). The reason for its
centrality is that “It is easier to learn something that is motivated than
something that is arbitrary. It is also easier to remember and use motivated
knowledge than arbitrary knowledge” (Lakoff l987:346).
Arabic is a wonderfully expressive, visual language.
Many terms used throughout the Arab world would not make much sense out of
context. Idioms are the hardest part of a language for a foreigner to
understand, as they are so deeply rooted in the culture. This
paper aims at studying the idiomatic meaning of the word tongue in Arabic
idioms to answer the following questions: What does the word tongue means in
different contexts? Does the word tongue have different meaning from those in
the dictionaries? Are
tongue idioms arbitrary or motivated?