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Understanding the Meaning of English Idiomatic Expressions in Song Lyrics: A Survey Regarding Swedish University Students’ Understanding of Idiomatic Expressions in English Song Lyrics.
Halmstad University, School of Teacher Education (LUT).
2012 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The general field of interest for this study is the Swedish public’s level of awareness of non-literal and figurative language, such as idioms and metaphors, in English. The English language can be considered to be evolving into Sweden’s second language, since it is present in so much more than school, for example, on television, computers and radio. This study aims to gain an insight into the degree of understanding of common idiomatic expressions in popular English song lyrics by native Swedish speakers. University students were chosen as the sample group and twelve of them were asked to explain their understanding of selected English idioms which occur in songs with which they were likely to recognize. The results have then been analyzed and it was possible to establish the degrees of understanding, misunderstanding and failure to understand. Firstly, the participants have explained the expression out of context, and secondly they were asked to explain it in the context of the song. This was to see whether the expressions appear to have been easier to understand out of context or in context. Earlier research show difficulties in defining the term idiom, and in this survey the term idiomatic expression has been used and defined as a way of speaking or writing that does not make any literal sense, even though the expressions are used all the time and people familiar with the language generally recognize them and understand their meaning. Earlier research has facilitated the analysis by the use of terms, theories and definitions on various ways of understanding metaphors, metonymy and idioms, and how these might, or might not, differ between Swedish and English. The results of this survey show that most of the expressions appear to have been easier to explain and understand when seen and heard in the context of the song. Although, some expressions appear to have been very alien to the participants, which has resulted in misunderstandings and failure to understand both in and out of context of the song lyrics in question.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. , 91 p.
Keyword [en]
Idiomatic expressions, idioms, metaphors, negative transfer, positive transfer
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics
URN: urn:nbn:se:hh:diva-17887OAI: diva2:531964
Subject / course
Humanities, Theology
Available from: 2012-06-28 Created: 2012-06-08 Last updated: 2012-06-28Bibliographically approved

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School of Teacher Education (LUT)
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