Friday, January 15, 2010

Idioms are helpful

My son loves idioms.

When he was in junior kindergarten, a wonderful school librarian took him under her wing to give him some learning extensions.

She taught him about idioms – phrases that can’t be taken literally, like “break a leg” or “you run like a cheetah.”

He had great fun creating his own, world-of-a-five-year-old idioms.

That lesson helped him enjoy school more and challenged his imagination. It was also a great literacy activity, since it involved reading and writing. (They used books to get inspiration for new idioms, and they wrote them down.)

Since then, just knowing about idioms has been a really good thing for my son. Whenever someone on TV says a phrase that makes no “literal” sense – but we kind of know what the person means, I can point out that’s it’s an idiom. And he knows exactly what that means.

And, his writing is more colourful and fun because he's good at using idioms now.

But most of all, it’s fun to use the word “idiom” with an eight-year-old.

Here's a link to a definition of idiom.

Yesterday I saw, well not an idiom but somewhere between “pun” and “idiot” comes to mind. It was a phrase written on the windshield of a truck. It said, “King of Pain.” I was taken aback – what kind of sicko publicizes that he’s the king of… wait a minute (I thought to myself) what’s the side of the truck say? And sure enough, it was a window installer’s van. Puns aren’t supposed to use the word that fits, they’re supposed to use the other word. If you’d written “King of Pane,” I would have gotten the joke. And I wouldn’t have been all creeped out. Idiom.
Image: Wikimediacommons, Tltld.

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