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Table 4.4: Syntactic features of English idioms denoting health
sentence structures accounting for 7,4% and 4,6% respectively out of 109 English
idioms denoting health.
4.1.2 Semantic features
After collecting the data, the author categorized the idioms based on their
real meanings, theoretical background and some printed medicine books such as:
Pocket medicine by Marc. Sbatine (2000), Quick medical terminology by Shirley
Soltesz Steine (1972) and Lynn Bickley (2005) with Bates' guide to physical
examination and history taking, etc. There are 7 categories of meanings of English
idioms denoting health as follows.
18.104.22.168 Indicating the prophylactic
In everyday life, people have many health problems. Eating way and lifestyle
directly affect health. Thus, English idioms have proverbial expressions to advise
people against disease to avoid adverse health effects. There are 3 idioms occupying
2,8% as follow: check up, have a physical, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound
22.214.171.124 Indicating the treatment
When patients know that they are sick, their focus is on curing the disease.
Treatment is an essential thing to do as soon as possible to protect health. Only
following the treatment methods, the patients can recover and have good health.
There are 19 English idioms occupying 17,4% as follow: bitter pill to swallow,
bring someone around, fill a prescription, get a check up, get something out of
one’s system, in surgery, nurse someone back to health, on medication, run some
tests, take one’s medicine, go under the knife, just what the doctor ordered, warts
and all, etc.
126.96.36.199 Indicating the good health
Everyone wants to have a good health to live, work, study and play. Having a
good health is the best. Thus, English idioms also have many sayings about good
health. In this field, there are 20 items which account for 18,3% of English idioms
denoting health such as: alive and well, as fit as a fiddle, clean bill, feel on top of
the world, look the picture of health, on the mend, picture of health, up and about,
full of beans, blind as a bat, die with one’s boot on, hit the dust, fit as fiddle, hale
and hearty, new lease of life, in the pink of health, prime of one’s life, right as rain,
fresh as a daisy, ect.
188.8.131.52 Indicating the poor health
Nobody wants to have a poor health. This is a great obstacle in life as well as
everyday life. However, in life, few people avoid the illness. Idioms have a lot to
talk about this. In this field, there are 26 idioms making up 23,9% of English idioms
denoting health: As pale as a ghost, black and blue, black out, break out in a cold
sweat, burn oneself out, nothing but skin and bones, out of condition, in bad shape,
off color, drop like flies, hard of hearing, out of sorts, racked with pain, run down,
under the weather, ill at ease, sick as a dog, stick out like a sore thumb, weak at the
184.108.40.206 Indicating the death
Death is something that no one wants to talk about. However, in life, people still
face it. Idioms try to find different images to talk about. There are 11 English idioms
occupying 10,1% as follows: at death’s door, die a natural death, kick the bucket,
dead as a doornail, meet your maker, one foot in the grave, pop one’s clogs, etc.
220.127.116.11 Indicating the health recovery
When healthy, people use the prevention to protect health. When being
patient, people tried to find out the treatment to have a good health. English idioms
have many sayings to talk about the health recovery as 10 following English idioms
which account for 9,2%: back on one’s feet, in remission, take a turn for the better,
on the mend, pull through, up and about, , out cold, over the worst, vim and vigor.
18.104.22.168 Indicating the illness and symptoms
In life, no one avoids illness. People can get sick at any age or any class,
whether rich or poor. Here are some of 20 English expressions about illness and
symptoms accounting for 18,3% out of 109 English idioms denoting health): break
out in, catch a cold, a flair up, have foot – in – mouth disease, lapse in a come, run
a fever/ temperature, splitting headache, throw up, feel blue, dogs are barking, frog
in one’s throat, have a hangover, etc.
All the above studies about the semantic features of English idioms denoting
health are synthesized in the table below:
Illness and symptoms
Table 4.5: Semantic features of English idioms denoting health
From table 4.5, it is clear to see that idioms which indicate the poor health
account for the highest percentage (23,9%). Both idioms indicate the good health
and idioms indicate the illness and symptoms are the second highest percentage
(18,3%). The third highest percentage belongs to the idioms indicating the treatment
(17,4%). With the respective percentages of 10,1% and 9,2%, the meanings about
the death and recovery of English idioms rank fourth in the table. The lowest
percentage is the percentage of idioms which indicate the prophylactic (2,8%).
4.2 Syntactic and semantic features of idioms denoting health in Vietnam
The above researches show the syntactic and semantic features of English idioms
denoting health. In this part, the author introduces the features of Vietnamese dioms
4.2.1 Syntactic features
Syntactic features of idioms denoting health in Vietnam can be recognized
under 3 main kinds of phrases. They are noun phrases, verb phrases and adjective
22.214.171.124 Phrase structures
In this field, there are 52 samples accounting for 47,7% out of 109
Vietnamese idioms denoting health in total.
126.96.36.199.1 Noun phrases
This kind of pattern can be found in 20 Vietnamese idioms making up 18,4%
out of 109 Vietnamese idioms denoting health such as: Cơm ba bát, thuốc ba thang;
Sức dài, vai rộng; Vai u, thịt bắp, chân đi đất, mồ hôi dầu; Ba ngày béo, bày ngày
In these examples, “cơm, thuốc, sức, vai, thịt, chân, mồ hôi, ba ngày, bảy ngày” are
the head noun, and the other words supply the meanings for these nouns.
188.8.131.52.2 Verb phrases
This kind of pattern can be found in 22 Vietnamese idioms occupying 20%
out of 109 ones such as: Tiêu đái, ngon cơm; Ăn no vác nặng; Cày sâu, cuốc bẫm;
Ăn vóc, học hay; Ăn một mình đau tức, làm một mình cực thân; Đừng ăn quá
miệng, đừng diện quá sang; etc.
It is easy to see that “tiêu, ăn, vác, cày, cuốc, học, làm, đừng ăn, đừng diện” are the
main verbs in those verb phrases. The other words supply the meanings for these
184.108.40.206.3 Adjective phrases
This kind of pattern can be found in 10 Vietnamese idioms accounting for
9,3% in 109 Vietnamese idioms denoting health as follows: To vòng bụng, ngắn
vòng đời; Già sức khỏe, trẻ bình n; Yếu như cây sậy; Khỏe như sâm; Càng già
càng dẻo càng dai ,ect.
In these examples, “to, ngắn, già, trẻ, yếu, khỏe, run, dẻo, dai” are the adjective,
and the other words supply the meanings for these adjectives.
220.127.116.11 Sentences structures
This pattern accounts for 57 typical idioms which makes up 52,3% out of
109 Vietnamese idioms denoting health in total.
18.104.22.168.1 Simple Sentences
This kind of structure can be found in 20 Vietnamese idioms making up 35%
out of 57 idioms with simple sentence structures such as: Một nụ cười bằng mười
thang thuốc bổ; Cây sắn dây là thầy con rắn; Sức khỏe là vàng; Sạch sẽ là mẹ sức
khỏe; Tham thực thì cực thân; Phòng bệnh hơn chữa bệnh; etc.
In these examples, “Một nụ cười, cây sắn dây, sức khỏe, sạch sẽ, tham thực,
phòng bệnh” are the subjects in each sentence. The main verbs are “bằng, là, thì”.
The other words are the complements or objects.