17. Contrastive idiom analysis: The case of Japanese and English idioms of anger
Past approaches to contrastive idiom analysis have often focused on shared characteristics of groups of idioms or taken for granted correspondences between the meanings of individual L1/L2 idioms. This chapter presents a method for the contrastive analysis of idioms that focuses on the L1/L2 semantic networks, as well as on the way that idioms are actually used in text and discourse. The target of analysis is Japanese and English verb phrase idioms of anger, including <i>hara ga tatsu </i>‘one’s belly rises up’, <i>blow one’s stack/top, </i>etc. Corpus data and co-occurrence tests are used to identify a number of semantic features that function to distinguish the meanings of idioms in the respective L1/L2 lexical fields (e.g. <continuative>, <instantaneous>, <time before realisation>, <otheroriented>, <expressive>). Results of analysis show that, while many Japanese and English anger idioms overlap partially in meaning, only a few have full semantic correspondence. This chapter also points out some non-semantic factors relevant to the question of idiom translation in real contexts, including register and frequency of occurrence.