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The word idiom was itself derived from the Greek “ἰδίωμα" (idioma), which can be variously translated as peculiarity, property, or peculiar phraseology. Hence the word has come to be used to describe the form of speech peculiar to a people or country and, in a narrower sense, to the forms peculiar to a limited district, group of people, or even the technical vocabulary peculiar to a profession such as medicine, the law or any of the sciences. This narrower sense is also described by the word dialect (Gr. διάλεκτος), also of Greek origin.
A bilingual dictionary of idioms is a work of reference, containing a wide range of idiomatic expressions in a language with proposals as to their nearest equivalents in another language; it includes a comprehensive range of phrasal and prepositional verbs, colloquialisms and proverbs, together with examples of their usage and translations or equivalent phrases in the reader’s language; and at the same time to achieve a coherent whole, both through the choice of entries and their translations.
In the first place it is addressed to students, by whom idiomatic phrases may often be misconstrued or mistranslated, representing at least a barrier to achieving ease with the use of idiomatic, or natural English, and at worst, costly mistakes in school or university examinations.
A reference book of this kind is destined to provide a complementary tool for student’s studies. Coming across an English idiom he doesn’t know, he can refer to this lexicon and hopefully, as the idioms are placed within a context, find a reliable translation.
The second category of reader is any citizen of the world today who, whether a student or not, finds himself more and more often in the situation of having to speak a language other than his mother tongue. And this person will find a dictionary with illustrations, words and phrases - a modern engravings of technological society; a book which he wants to carry with him (hence it must have a compact format), to leaf through and also to read, dipping into it less to verify a word than to become impregnated with a culture. The idioms are selected both for their occurrence in the language and for their “cultural reflection”.
Both categories of reader need this invaluable linguistic resource, which complements the other references, dictionaries, grammars and textbooks that students and users of English have at their disposal. Such a book provides a key to a meeting of the minds of these two speaking worlds by enabling a means of translation of modes of expression rather than simply of words.
The specific sense in which such a book is a lexicon of idioms is the sense in which it deals with those forms of expression, grammatical construction, phrase and phraseology which are peculiar to a language and established in approved usage, which often have a signification, or meaning, other than the grammatical or logical one which is indicated by the words themselves. A natural consequence of this is that study of idioms will also illuminate the character, properties and genius of the language and hence the character and manner of expression which is peculiar to the users of it.
Examples are included to embrace, at one end of the spectrum, idioms which are, in both languages of each version, almost word for word translations of each other (perhaps representing human idiom), while at the other end, phrases which at first sight seem to bear little resemblance to one another yet, on consideration, can be found to express ideas relating to their subject matter which could be said to be peculiar to the modes of expression found, respectively, in usage of both languages.