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FEATURES OF SET EXPRESSIONS CONTAINING WORDS “RED” AND “BLACK” IN ENGLISH AND THE VIETNAMESE EQUIVALENTS

MINISTRY OF EDUCATION AND TRAINING
HANOI OPEN UNIVERSITY

NGUYỄN THỊ NGÂN

FEATURES OF SET EXPRESSIONS CONTAINING WORDS
“RED” AND “BLACK” IN ENGLISH AND THE
VIETNAMESE EQUIVALENTS
(ĐẶC ĐIỂM CỦA NHỮNG CỤM TỪ CỐ ĐỊNH CÓ CHỨA TỪ “RED” VÀ
“BLACK” TRONG TIẾNG ANH VÀ TƯƠNG ĐƯƠNG
TRONG TIẾNG VIỆT)

M.A. THESIS
Field: English Language
Code: 8220201

Hanoi, 2018


MINISTRY OF EDUCATION AND TRAINING
HANOI OPEN UNIVERSITY


NGUYỄN THỊ NGÂN

FEATURES OF SET EXPRESSIONS CONTAINING WORDS
“RED” AND “BLACK” IN ENGLISH AND THE
VIETNAMESE EQUIVALENTS
(ĐẶC ĐIỂM CỦA NHỮNG CỤM TỪ CỐ ĐỊNH CÓ CHỨA TỪ “RED”
VÀ“BLACK” TRONG TIẾNG ANH VÀ TƯƠNG ĐƯƠNG
TRONG TIẾNG VIỆT)

Field: English Language
Code: 8220201
Supervisor: Assoc. Prof. Dr. Phan Văn Quế

Hanoi, 2018


CERTIFICATE OF ORIGINALITY
I, the undersigned, hereby certify my authority of the study project report
entitled “FEATURES OF SET EXPRESSIONS CONTAINING WORDS
“RED” AND “BLACK” IN ENGLISH AND THE VIETNAMESE
EQUIVALENTS” submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the
degree of Master in English language. Except for the indicated reference, no other
person’s work has been used without due acknowledgment in the text of the thesis.

Hanoi, 2018

Nguyễn Thị Ngân

Approve by
SUPERVISOR

Phan Văn Quế
Date: …………….

i


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
This thesis could not have been completed without the help and support from


a number of people.
First and foremost, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Assoc.
Prof. Dr. Phan Van Que, my supervisor, who has patiently and constantly
supported me through the stages of the study, and whose stimulating ideas,
expertise, and suggestions have inspired me greatly through my growth as an
academic researcher.
A special word of thanks goes to my friends and many others, without whose
support and encouragement it would never have been possible for me to have this
thesis accomplished.
Last but not least, I am greatly indebted to my family, my husband for the
sacrifice they have devoted to the fulfillment of this academic work.

ii


ABSTRACT
The title of my thesis is Features of set expressions containing words
“RED” and “BLACK” in English and the Vietnamese equivalents. The aim of
this paper is to show the features of set expressions containing words red and
black in English and the Vietnamese equivalents. This study helps students be
aware of the necessity in using idioms both in English and Vietnamese. With the
method of describing, comparing, analyzing and contrasting, this paper will give
learners crucial information to help them gain knowledge and improve their study.
After collecting 337 set expressions containing words red and black in English; đỏ
and đen in Vietnamese idioms and proverbs dictionaries. The study is carried out
basing on the quantitative and qualitative approach in order to show some features
of English set expressions containing words “Red” and “Black” and their
Vietnamese equivalents. As a result, some similarities and dissimilarities between
English set expressions containing words “Red” and “Black” and Vietnamese ones
have gained through finding process. Moreover, implications for learning and
teaching set expressions containing words red and black are also mentioned in this
thesis.

iii


LIST OF TABLES
Table 4.1: Syntactic features of RED set expressions in English

32

Table 4.2: Syntactic features of ĐỎ set expressions in Vietnamese

32

Table 4.3: Syntactic features of BLACK set expressions in English
Table4.4: Syntactic features of ĐEN set expressions in Vietnamese
Table 4.5: Semantic features of “Red” set expressions in English
Table 4.6: Semantic features of “Đỏ” set expressions in Vietnamese

33
34
41
41

Table 4.7: Semantic features of “Black” set expressions in English
Table 4.8: Semantic features of “Đen” set expressions in Vietnamese

48
48

Table 4.9: Syntactic features of “RED” and “ĐỎ” set expressions

49

Table 4.10: Syntactic features of “BLACK” and “ĐEN” set expressions
50
Table 4.11: Semantic features of “RED” in English and “ĐỎ” in Vietnamese set
expressions
51
Table 4.12: Semantic features of “BLACK” in English and “ĐEN” in Vietnamese
set expressions
52

iv


TABLE OF CONTENTS
Certificate of originality

i

Acknowledgements

ii

Abstract
List of tables

iii
iv
1

Chapter 1: INTRODUCTION
1.1 Rationale for the study

1

1.2 Aims and objectives of the study
1.3. Research questions

2
3

1.4 Methods of the study

3

1.5 Scope of the study
1.6 Significance of the study
1.7 Design of the study

3
4
4

Chapter 2: LITERATURE REVIEW
2.1 Previous studies
2.2. An over view of set expressions

6
6
7

2.2.1. Definition of set expressions
2.2.2. Types of set expressions
2.2.2.1. Idioms

7
8
8

2.2.2.2. Proverbs
2.3. An over view of Culture

10
11

2.3.1. Definition of Culture
2.3.2. Characteristics of Culture
2.3.3. Characteristics of English Culture

11
12
12

2.3.4. Characteristics of Vietnamese Culture
2.4. Concepts of color
2.4.1. Color in language
2.4.2. Color in culture

13
13
13
14

2.4.3. The meaning of color red and black in English
2.4.4. Features of color set expressions
2.5. Structures of idioms
2.5.1. Phrases
2.5.2. Clauses
2.5.3. Sentences

15
16
18
18
20
22

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2.6. Semantic features of idioms
2.7. Theory of syntax and semantics
2.8. Summary

23
25
27

Chapter 3: METHODOLOGY
3.1. Setting of the study
3.2. Research questions
3.3. Research methods
3.4. Instruments

28
28
28
28
29

3.5. Data collection and Data analysis
3.6. Summary

29
30
31

Chapter 4: FEATURES OF SET EXPRESSIONS
CONTAINING WORDS “RED” AND “BLACK” IN ENGLISH
AND THE VIETNAMESE EQUIVALENTS
4.1. Syntactic features of “red” and “ black” set expressions in
English and “ đỏ” and “đen” in Vietnamese
4.1.1. Syntactic features of “red” set expressions in English and
“đỏ” in Vietnamese
4.1.2. Syntactic features of “black” set expressions in English and
“đen” in Vietnamese
4.2. Semantic features of “red” and “black” set expressions in
English and in Vietnamese
4.2.1. Semantic features of “red” set expressions in English and in
Vietnamese
4.2.2. Semantic features of “black” set expressions in English and
in Vietnamese
4.3. A comparison between the semantic and syntactic features of
the word “RED” and “BLACK” in English and “ĐỎ” and “ĐEN” in
Vietnamese

31
31
32
34
35
42
49

4.3.1. In terms of their syntactic features

49

4.3.2. In terms of their semantic features

51
53

4.4. Implications and suggestions for teaching and learning
English RED and BLACK set expressions in English and
Vietnamese
4.4.1. Suggestions for teaching English

RED and BLACK set

53

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expressions in English and Vietnamese
4.4.2. Suggestions for learning English RED and BLACK set
expressions in English and Vietnamese
4.5. Summary

54

Chapter 5: CONCLUSION
5.1 Concluding remarks

57
57

5.2 Limitation of the study
5.3 Suggestions for further study

57
58

REFERENCES
APPENDIX

59
62

55

vii


Chapter 1: INTRODUCTION

1.1.

Rationale
Nowadays, the globalization has become a wide-spread trend in the world,

therefore, communication with high requirements has become an urgent trend in the
world than ever. That is the reason why English is the most popular and flexible
language in the world.
In studying English, especially for the Vietnamese, it is really a shortcoming
if we do not take into consideration of set expressions in English, especially set
expressions containing words color. English expressions are not only a part of
language, but also one of the components creating traditional culture of each nation.
Through expressions, we can learn more clearly and deeply about English people,
their country as well as their culture. As we know, because of specific characteristics
of culture, so each color English expression has its own features. It lies in the fact
that, colors have taken an important role in the living and each color also has its own
meaning.
Theoretically, many relevant studies on color in English and in Vietnamese
have been done so far. According to Rod Ellis, one way to help foreign learners of
English overcome their language-related problems is to teach them formulaic and
figurative set expressions such as proverbs, idioms, metaphors, phrasal verbs etc.
which are a crucial part of natural language production (Rod Ellis, 2008). Therefore,
set expressions containing words “red’ and “black" are selected as the focus of this
study because it is seen those specific characteristics of culture, and each color
English expression has its own features.
It lies in the fact that, colors have taken an important role in the living and each
color also has its own meaning. Therefore, there have been a lot of studies involved
in the meaning of colors set expressions in order to know how to use them. As for
Berlin and Kay, the “color terms" has been used to show differences in color of each
language on over the world. While we might readily expect differences for words
relating to things in the environment such as animal and plants, or for a cultural
system like governance or kinship terms, it might seem surprising that terms for
colors should vary. The investigation claims that languages vary in the number and
range of their basic color terms. (Berlin and Kay, 1969) As a result, knowledge of
color set expressions can increase comprehension of texts and using them can make
learners ‘verbal and written communication more effective (Irujo, 1986;
1


Vanyushkina-Holt, 2005).
However, researches on features of set expressions containing word “red” and
“black" in English and their Vietnamese equivalents to find out their similarities and
differences between the two languages have not been carried out. Being aware of the
importance of color set expressions in daily interaction as well as in learning
language, I decided to choose the thesis entitled “Features of set expressions
containing words “red” and “black" in English and the Vietnamese equivalents”
as the topic of the master graduation thesis; thus, this thesis can help Vietnamese
learners of English understand more clearly about the way of using and translating
them from English to Vietnamese and vice-versa. Hopefully, it will somehow help
Vietnamese learners enrich their knowledge and have a deeper insight into English
color set expressions. As for the learners of English or Vietnamese, a contrastive
analysis of semantic and syntactic features of color set expressions in this thesis will
help them improve the ability to use and understanding. Especially, the study of all
kinds of color set expressions containing words “red” and “black” are expected to
provide the translators with fresh thinking of culture, lifestyle, and custom, notions,
which brings their works to perfection to some extent.

1.2.

Aims and objectives of the study
This study is carried out with the hope to reach some aims at finding out the

typical features of English colors expressions, especially investigating RED and
BLACK set expressions in English and the Vietnamese equivalents in terms of
syntactic and semantic features, thus help learners of English to have better
understanding of these expressions, enable to use them effectively in daily
communication.
With a view to achieving the mentioned – above aims, some specific
objectives have been put forward like the following:

-

Identify, describe the syntactic, semantic features of English colors

expressions and the RED and BLACK set expressions in English and in Vietnamese.

-

Identify the similarities and differences of these English expressions
containing the word RED and BLACK and their Vietnamese equivalents in terms of
syntactic and semantic features.

-

Make some suggested implications for teaching and learning English

expression containing words RED and BLACK in English and the Vietnamese
2


equivalents.

1.3.

Research questions
The research plans to address the following questions:
- What are the syntactic and semantic features of set expressions containing
words RED and BLACK in English and the Vietnamese equivalents?
- What are the similarities and differences of the RED and BLACK set
expressions in English and “đỏ” and “đen” in Vietnamese in terms of syntactic
and semantic features?
- What are the implications for teaching and learning set expressions?
1.4. Methods of the study
This study is planned to identify and describe some syntactic and semantic
features of the English color expressions RED and BLACK with reference to the
Vietnamese equivalents, from these finding, some similarities and differences would
be shown. To gain this purpose, a large number of color expressions, RED and
BLACK color has been collected and treated differently at the various time. After
that, the data has been collected and analyzed in a careful consideration with the
combinations of contrastive analysis in qualitative and quantitative approaches,
which are used in the arguments and discussions.
Comparative and contrastive methods are used to show the similarities and
differences in the way of using color expressions by English and Vietnamese people
in both spoken and written language.
Furthermore, descriptive, analysis and contrastive methods are used as the
major methodology of this study. The methods are also used to describe the syntactic
and semantic features of words Red and Black. Some typical examples and statistic
tables are given to make a clearance.
Last but not least, some of the research techniques are used and combined such
as statistics and observation method to draw out necessary findings.
1.5. The scope of the study
Words denoting color is a very large topic, so this study only focuses on set
expressions containing words red and black in English and the Vietnamese
equivalents.
Set expression includes fixed phrases, sentences, proverbs and idioms which
contain words red and black in both languages, English and Vietnamese. But in this
study, we only study the scope of set expressions containing words red and black in
3


English and the Vietnamese equivalents.
Amount set expressions containing words red and black in English and đỏ and
đen in Vietnamese in this study with 197 set expressions in English and 140 set
expressions in Vietnamese. The data are taken from 8 dictionaries in English and
Vietnamese (see references)
This study focuses mainly on semantic and syntactic features of idioms
containing words “red” and “black” and the Vietnamese equivalents. Comparison
and contrasting syntactic and semantic features are to point out the similarities and
differences between English culture in using set expressions containing word red and
black and their Vietnamese equivalents.
1.6. The significance of the study
Theoretically, there are many authors studied about the set expressions and
color set expressions such as Kay and McDaniel (1978), Wierzbicka (1996), Goddard
(1998) ,Guimei(2009, Francis M. Adams and Charles E. Osgood (2011), Huei-Ling
Lai and Shu-chen Lu (2012), Berlin and Paul Kay (1969) as well as Trương Thanh
Ngọc (2003), Nguyễn Mai Diệu Khoa (2003), Lê Thị Thanh Thủy(2009), Trịnh Thị
Minh Hương, Phan Lê Thị Huyền (2011). However, Bùi Thị Thanh Hiền (2011),
studies the metaphor related to Red in English and Vietnamese in her and no one
studies about “ red” and “black” features in English and Vietnamese so this thesis
studies the features of set expressions containing words red and black in English and
the Vietnamese equivalents to supply deeper understanding of set expressions
containing words red and black in English and their equivalents in Vietnamese in
terms of their syntactic and semantic features for learners and teachers.
Practically, idioms and proverbs are large parts in English and Vietnamese. They
are used in daily life and in communication so the study points out the similarities
and differences about the features of set expressions containing words red and black
to learners to improve their use of language skills when using set expressions
containing words red and black in English and their equivalents in Vietnamese.
1.7. Design of the study
The thesis consists of five chapters as bellows:
Chapter 1, Introductions, presents an overview of the thesis including rationale,
aims, objectives, scope, research methods, and significance, well as the design of the
study.

4


Chapter 2, Literature review, overview the previous studies and build up the
theoretical background in the study.
Chapter 3, Methodology, focuses on a set of the study, research questions, research
methods, instruments, data collection, and data analysis and summary.
Chapter 4, Finding and discussion, point out the syntactic and semantic features of
“red” and “black” set expressions in English and the Vietnamese equivalents.
Chapter 5, Conclusions, summaries the major findings recorded during the making
of the thesis presents the limitations of the study.
References and Appendix come at the end of the study.

5


Chapter 2: LITERATURE REVIEW

2.1.

Previous studies
In English, there have been many authors carrying out studies on color, culture

in using of colors. However, their approaches are different in some ways.
Kay and McDaniel (1978) present the existence of biologically based
semantic universals about color terms. Wierzbicka (1996) and Goddard (1998)
maintain that visual and environmental things should be referred to as common
reference points for color meanings. Guimei (2009) mentions the cultural connotation
in the color words between Chinese and English languages is very abundant. Francis
M. Adams and Charles E. Osgood (2011), also studies the affective meanings of color
in cross-cultural. It is also another study, Huei-Ling Lai and Shu-chen Lu (2012),
mentions and shows the similarities and variations in the meaning extensions of black
and white, and further to find the cultural factors behind them but it only mentions in
Taiwanese Languages. Hui-Chih Yu (2014), shows the differences and similarities of
symbolic meanings of color in English and Chinese in his study.
After that, Brown and Lenneberg (1954) published “A Study in Language
and Cognition” they discussed the effect of codability on recognition. Brown and
Lenneberg attributed this effect to the property of codability. Linguistic codability is
the ease with which people can name things and the effects of naming on cognition
and behavior. In their experiment, they used a series of Munsell chips to test color
recall and recognition in English speakers. Their findings suggested that the
availability of a basic color term in a given language affected the retention of that
color in recall testing. In other words, Brown and Lenneberg linked their study to
Lenneberg and Roberts' 1953 findings on color recall in Zuni speakers.
Berlin and Paul Kay (1969) carried out a research named “Basic color terms:
their universality and evolution” (published by University of California Press). This
is one important area of discussion has been the differences in color terms in
languages and raised a new theory of differences for words relating to things in the
environment such as animals and plants, or for cultural systems like governance or
kinship terms, it might be surprising that terms for colors should vary. Berlin and Kay
investigated the fact that languages vary in the number and range of their basic color
terms.
In Vietnamese, there have also been many authors carrying out studies on
color, culture in using of colors, set expression such as Trương Thanh Ngọc (2003),
6


she mentions semantic features of word denoting colors in English and Vietnamese:
black, white, green, red, yellow, blue, brown, grey, orange, pink and purple.
However, in another study by Nguyễn Mai Diệu Khoa (2003), she focuses her
attention on the study of the metaphoric meaning of words denoting color which
includes six main colors. Nguyễn Thị Diệu Hảo (2005) finds that people tend to use
idioms denoting color words in daily communication. Lê Thị Thanh Thủy (2009), points
out connotation meanings of white, red, blue in both languages English and
Vietnamese. Another study is "Tính biểu trưng cuả từ ngữ chỉ màu sắc strong Tiếng
Việt" by Trịnh Thị Minh Hương at Ho Chi Minh Pedagogical University (2009).
Phan Lê Thị Huyền (2011) based on a new trend with contrastive analysis on both
semantic and pragmatic features of the adjective Black in English and Ðen in
Vietnamese in compound words, collocation, and idiomatic phrases. Bùi Thị Thanh
Hiền (2011), studies the metaphor related to Red in English and Vietnamese in her
study. Phạm Thị Kim Chuyên (2012), shows the similarities and differences of the
semantic features of the word Green in English and Xanh (lá cây) in Vietnamese.
However, there has not been so far a study on features of two colors red and
black in English and Vietnamese. Therefore, it is necessary to do research on this
matter to hit the target.
2.2. An overview of set expressions
2.2.1. Definition of set expressions
As many languages English and Vietnamese, set expressions are own phrases and
sentences that used daily in communication, in speech as well as in writing. Set
expressions required of fixed phrases, sentences, idioms, and proverbs.
According to Nguyễn Hòa (2001), Set expressions are word-groups consisting
of two or more words whose combinations are integrated as a specialized meaning
of the whole such as to see the red light, to give one a big hand, etc.
Besides, John Lyons (1995) posited that expression of a language falls into
two sets. There are the expressions that one would expect to find listed in a dictionary:
they are vocabulary-units of a language, out of which the members of the second set,
lexically composite expression, are constructed by means of grammatical (i.e.
syntactic and morphological) rules of the language.
Not all the expressions listed in a dictionary, however, are words. Some of
them are what traditionally called phrases; and phrasal expressions, like wordexpressions.
7


Furthermore, Đặng Trần Cường (2001) denoted that “phraseology unit is the
study of set expressions called phraseological units. These set expressions are
completely or particularly idiomatic in speech as a ready-made unit.”
Set expressions have been sometimes called word equivalents, and they have
been postulated that the vocabulary of a language consists of words and word
equivalents (word group), similar to a word in so far as they are not created in speech
but introduced into the act of communication ready-made. If substitution is only
pronominal or restricted to a few synonyms for one of the only, or impossible, i.e. if
the elements of the phrase are always the same and make a fixed context for each
other, the word-group is a set expression. In this study, set expressions include
proverbs and idioms.
2.2.2.

Types of set expressions

2.2.2.1.

Idioms
There are many definitions about idioms:
In English, Hornby (1995) states in his Oxford Advanced Learner’s

Dictionary that an idiom is “a phrase or sentence whose meaning is not clear from
the meaning of its individual words and which must be learned as a whole unit”. In
Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionry (2006), Hornby changes the definition a little
bit, noting that an idiom is “a group of words whose meaning is different from the
meanings of the individual words”
J. Seidl and W. McMordie (1998) concept "An idioms can be defined as a
number of words which, when taken together, have a different meaning from the
individual meanings of each ".
The number of idioms in English is considerable. Some interesting examples
are: It was for the birds (means: It’s is really meaningless and uninteresting), or to
bury the hatchet (to make peace), to call it a day (to stop doing something), to paint
the town red (to carouse and have a good time).
In Vietnamese, it also carries the same basic point English particular idioms
and idiomatic language of the world in general. Hồ Lê (1976) refers an idiom is a
word combination which has a stable structure and figurative meaning and is used
to describe an image, a phenomenon, a characteristic, or a state. Ðái Xuân Ninh
(1978) defines an idiom is a set expression whose constituents lose their
independence to some extent and combine into rather complete and stable units.
According to Nguyễn Thiện Giáp (1985), Idiom is a phrase whose meaning it
8


is not made up of the meaning of the words composing it. Even if the meaning of all
words which cannot yet guess idiom meaning of that phrase. Idioms with the
completeness of meaning but secluded nature of the elements in the structure, so its
activities in question as equivalent to an individual from.
Hoàng Văn Thành (1997), the idiom is a combination of fixed and
sustainability of the morphology, structure, complete and polished on the meaning to
be widely used in daily communication, especially in the oral.
To build a foundational definition for the study, we base on the above features
as well as our own observation, then apply the following definition as the major
concept for our research working: An idiom is a fixed phrase which has integrity of
meaning, making a complete referential unit whose meaning is different from the total
meanings of its components, it is non-literal and works as a single word or a phrase.
We also possess a lot of idioms such as Nghèo rớt mồng tơi, Chọc gậy bánh xe; Cao
chạy xa bay; ném đá dấu tay; etc,..
There are many different definitions of idioms but we can find some
similarities between them. After survey and study, we found idioms have some
common features the following:

- An idiom is a multiword expression. Individual components of an idiom
can often be inflected in the same way individual words in a phrase can be inflected.
This inflection usually follows the same pattern of inflection as the idiom's literal
counterpart. For example: have a bee in one's bonnet = feeling anxiously

-

An idiom behaves as a single semantic unit
It tends to have some measure of internal cohesion such that a literal

counterpart that is made up of a single word can often replace it, for example: kick
the bucket = die

-

It resists interruption by other words whether they are semantically
compatible or not, for example: do a bunk = do a bunk with sb or be sulky as a bear
= be as sulky as a bear

-

It resists reordering of its component parts, for example: let the cat out of

the bag = the cat got left out the bag

-

An idiom has a non-productive syntactic structure. Only single particular

lexemes can collocate in an idiomatic. Substituting other words from the same generic
lexical relation set will destroy the idiomatic meaning of the expression, for example:
9


eat one's words = eat one's sentence

-

It is syntactic anomalous. It has an unusual grammatical structure, for

example: by and large
2.2.2.2. Proverbs
There are many definitions about proverbs:
According to Oxford Advanced, Learner's Dictionary (Hornby, 2006, p.1238)
has given a definition proverb is a well-known phrase or sentence that gives advice or
says something that is generally true, for example, Waste not, want not.
Or according to Linda and Roger Flavell (1994, p.24), Proverbs can be defined as
“memorable short sayings of the people, containing wise words of advice or
warning”
Mieder (1993, p.5) defines that “ A proverb is a short, generally known
sentence of folk which contains wisdom, truth, morals, and traditional views in
metaphorical, fixed, and memorable form and which is handed down from generation
to generation.”
Alan Dundes (1978) standing on the concept defined structure: A proverb is a
traditional propositional statement consisting of at least one descriptive element, a
descriptive element consisting of a topic and a comment.
However, Barley (1972, p.714) said that “A proverb is a standard statement
of moral and colloquial imperatives in fixed metaphorical paradigmatic form; it deals
with fundamental logical relationships.”
However, in Vietnamese, the concept of the proverb is a bit different. Vietnamese
dictionary defines proverb as short statements, often expressed with rhythm, which
sum up knowledge, life experience and moral lessons of people.
According to Pham Văn Bình (1993), A proverb is a complete sentence
expressing an idea or comment, of experience, of morality, of justice or of criticism
drawn from human life.
Vũ Ngọc Phan (2000), particularly considered a proverb as a complete
saying expressing one idea of comment, experience, morality, justice or criticism.
Nguyễn Thái Hòa (2009) was conceived: A proverb is a mouthpiece formed in
everyday speech. Those are the words but units exist in the memories of the
community as a unit of language. For example Ngọt mật chết ruồi, con có cha như
nhà có nóc, phép vua thua lệ làng, …
In short, in the opinion of many researchers, although few short ways, the
10


proverb is also a sentence express a full meaning, the meaning of the proverb is that
a combination of each of its constituent. The meaning of the proverb may be a
comment, an experience, a moral, or a word of advice, a word of judgment, criticism.
We also can indicate some following common features of proverb according to Obeng
(1996):

-

Proverbs are passed down through time with little change in form.
Proverbs are often used metaphorically and it is understanding their

metaphorical nature that we can unravel their meaning.
For example, a stitch in time saves nine, don't count your chickens before they've
hatched, don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.

-

Proverbs often make use of grammatical and theoretical devices that help
to make them memorable, including alliteration, rhyme, parallel structure, repetition
of keywords or phrases, and strong
2.3. An overview of Culture
2.3.1.

Definition of culture
Culture is an integral part of every society. It is a learned pattern of behavior

and the ways in which a person lives his or her life. Culture is essential for the
existence of a society because it blinds people together. In the explicit sense of the
term, culture constitutes the music, food, art and literature of a society. However,
these are only the products of culture followed by society and cannot be defined as
culture. Various definitions of cultures have been given by scholars from different
points of view.
Being taken as "socially acquired knowledge" (Hudson, 1980) culture is
classified by some scholars into cultural knowledge information and cultural
communication information. The former refers to the factual information which does
not exert a direct influence on cross-cultural communication, including a nation’s
history, geography and so on. The later points to the socio-pragmatic rules in daily
communication which entail not only ways of greeting, thanking, apologizing and
addressing, but also attention to taboos, euphemism, modesty and polite formula in
use, and so forth.
Culture is necessary to establish an order and discipline in the society. It is not
only a means of communication between people but also creates a feeling of
belonging and togetherness among people in society.

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2.3.2. Characteristics of culture
Culture, argued by many anthropologists, most notably Clifford Geertz (1973),
is a symbolic meaning system. It is a semiotic system in which symbols function to
communicate meaning from one mind to another. Cultural symbols encode a
connection between a signifying form and signaled to mean. From the standpoint of
contemporary cultural anthropologists, culture is characterized by the following four
basic features:

- Culture is a kind of social inheritance instead of biological heritage.
- Culture is shared by the whole community, not belonging to any particular
individual.

- Culture is a symbolic meaning system in which language is one of the most
important ones.

- Culture is a unified system, the integral parts of which are closely related to
one another. Above are four principal features of culture.
Added to this, culture, in general, has some more important characteristics as
following:

-

Culture is selective
Culture is not innate; it is learned
Culture is transmissible
Culture is not static

2.3.3. Characteristics of English culture
Western culture, English culture is a typical cultural nomad original culture.
Living environment in the West is a cold, dry climate makes up the vast grasslands,
vegetation growth difficult, suitable for herd livestock. That's why in the west breeds
mainly sheep. In England and the West, livestock breeding is mainly up to the
nomadic people. They do not respect nature, aspiring to conquer nature. In
community organizations is seriously powerful, respected individual roles, the
behavior occurs on the principle.
According to David Marsland (1995), three primary English cultural values
and characteristics are freedom, the work ethic (i.e., the commitment to hard work)
and the family.

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- Freedom
- Work and the work ethic
- The family
2.3.4. Characteristics of Vietnamese culture
According to Trần Ngọc Thêm (1995), the culture of Vietnam is primarily based
on wet rice production. In Vietnam, agriculture has always been of great importance
in the economy. There are a plenty of agriculture products, such as rice, fruits,
groundnut trees, vegetables, various husbandry products, and industrial trees.
Vietnamese people usually raise and breed buffaloes, pigs, poultry,...
Vietnamese cultural characteristics describe abstract ideas about what
Vietnamese society believes to be good, right, and desirable. Vietnamese cultural
values and characteristics emphasize the importance of family and community. “Its
core values, which embrace the principles of Confucianism, are harmony, duty, and
honor, respect, education, and allegiance to the family" (Shapiro. M. E, 2004). Also,
according to Hunt P. C. (2002), these values and characteristics are represented as the
following:

-

Education
Harmony
Family
Duty and honor

2.4. Concepts of color
2.4.1. Colors in language
According to Berlin and Kay (1969), the researchers found that there were
eleven basic color terms common to the world's languages, and perhaps more
importantly, that these terms appear in languages in a fixed sequence. The order of
appearance of the colors can be expressed as follows:

Figure 1: Order of appearance of the basic color terms (Berlin/Kay 1969, p.4).
Berlin and Kay (1969), shows that all of the languages have at least two colors.
They are always black and white. If a language has three colors, the one added is red;
if a fourth is added, it will be either green or yellow; when a fifth is added, it will then
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include both green and yellow; the sixth added is blue; the seventh added is brown;
and if an eighth or more terms are added, it or they will be purple, pink, orange, or
gray.
In fact, English has a self-contained set of eleven words that can be described
as basic color words, such as black, white, red, yellow, green, blue, brown, pink,
orange, purple and gray. In Vietnam, there are nine words denoting color such as đen,
trắng, đỏ, vàng, xanh, nâu, hồng, tím và xám. All of two languages English and
Vietnamese have both black and white colors to be basic colors.
2.4.2. Colors in culture
Brent Berlin and Paul Kay (1969), argues that these differences can be
organized into a coherent hierarchy and that there are a limited number of universal
"basic color terms" which begin to be used by individual cultures in a relatively fixed
order. They based their analysis on a comparison of color words in 98 languages (20
in more detail) around the world.
Berlin and Kay (1969) once address the relationship between color lexicons and
cultural and technological development as follows: “Color lexicons with few terms
tend to occur in association with relatively simple cultures and simple technologies,
while color lexicons with many terms tend to occur in association with complex
cultures and complex technologies”.
In other words, the number of color lexicons proportionally indicates the
complexity of cultural and technological developments. From our data analysis, it has
the widest distributions of black and red. Each different culture will use black and
red colors differently in the way of expressions.
The symbolism of color in different cultures tends to have the common
identification of color names through cultural exchange. Jung (1964) defined symbols
“terms, names, or even pictures that may be familiar in daily life, yet that possess
Light enters the eye and hits the retina, where it is absorbed by rod and cone cells.
These cells transmit the signals that light triggers via the optic nerve, directly to the
visual center at the back of the brain: color is truly “in the mind of the beholder”. See
Alison Cole (1993), specific connotations in addition to their convention and obvious
meanings. They imply something vague, hidden, and unknown to us”. Fontana
(1994), building on the work of Jung, pointed out that certain kinds of symbolism
constitute a universal language. The images and their meanings occur in similar forms
and carry similar power across cultures and centuries. The symbolism that makes up
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this language in Jung’s theory is “the natural expression of inner psychological
forces”. However, Jung’s ideas on symbolism go only part of the way in accounting
for the rich and varied symbolic vocabularies of different cultures.
2.4.3.

The meaning of the color red and black in English

 The meaning of color “red” in English
According to Hornby (2015, p1290), Red is the color of blood or fire: a red c
In English, Red symbolizes the power and strength; however, it is symbols of different
objects, things in some extents.
In the past, Red color is not only connected with the death, blood, secrets but
also a symbol of the bravery of Britain and the royal family: the red Tudor rose is a
symbol of Lanchester family and the famous three lions on the national badge.
Scarlet is the color of the mystery, negative things, so the executioner worn red
clothes to imply that he is the person who is the first person to touch the secret of life.
The dark Red is represented as the power. In Rome, it belonged to the chief leaders,
the emperor: the Justinian law give a death penalty for anyone dare to buy or sell
cloth of dark red.
The red color is considered hot since it is affiliated with warfare, violence, and
fire and at the same time, it is also attached with passion and love. During the ancient
times, the red color was affiliated with cupid and devil. This color can really have a
physical reaction towards people by increasing the heart rate or the blood pressure. It
has also been proved that red color enhances the metabolism of human beings. At
times, this color is also connected with anger and simultaneously attached with one's
prestige (for example – red carpet at celebrity shows and award shows). The color
also signifies danger due to which the traffic stop lights and many warning signs and
symbols are red in color).
The red color has various alliances in the western countries. For instance, the
red color is considered as lucky color and is associated with happiness and good
fortune. In the eastern countries, this color is used in the weddings for the dress of the
brides. At the same time, the red color is a symbol of the morning in South Africa
and is also affiliated with communism. In the African continent, because of the RED
campaign, this color is attached to the awareness of AIDS.
Red is the color of positive things, time of day. That’s the image of enthusiastic,
youth, good health and rich: the native people in America often anoint red color on
their faces to strengthen health and sexuality, in some countries such as Russia, Japan,
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and China red is used in festivals, marriage weddings, and birthday anniversaries…
 The meaning of color “black” in English
The black color is the absence of color. It is a mysterious color that is typically
associated with the unknown or the negative. The color black is a symbol of strength,
seriousness, power, and authority. It is a formal, elegant, and prestigious color.
Authoritative and powerful, the color black can evoke strong emotions and too much
black can be overwhelming.
In Western countries, black is the color of mourning, death, and sadness. It often
represents the emotions and actions of rebellion in teenagers and youth. The color
black can represent both the positive and the negative. As the opposite of white,
movies, books, print media and television typically depict the good guy in white and
the bad guy in black. In recent times, the good guy is shown in black to create mystery
around the character’s identity.
Moreover, black is the symbol of grief. The color black can be serious,
professional, and conventional, but it can also represent the mysterious, sexy, and
sophisticated. It is a visually slimming color for clothing and like other dark colors, in
interior design, it can make a room appear to shrink in size. The color black affects the
mind and body by helping to create an inconspicuous feeling, boosting confidence in
appearance, increasing the sense of potential and possibility, or producing feelings of
emptiness, gloom, or sadness.
Nowadays, Black is not used for dying the tooth, but the black color on the dress
clothes still favored. Black clothes are used more in the funerals, in the important
events such as birthdays, weddings, cocktail parties, evenings ... Black clothes create
the misery, sadness, grief in funerals. However, black clothes make a polite, formal;
black has also suggested wealth, power, easy to attract people's curiosity. Most of the
fat women prefer wearing black because black makes them feel thin, not fat, and also
to provide for them the discreet, polite and grave.
2.4.4. Features of color set expressions
Each language has its own features, and these features have made the face, the
cultural components of that language. As we know, the English language is more
various and flexible than any other ones. Especially, English has been a global
language and called by an exact name “a living language”. Therefore, English has
much more outstanding and individual characteristics than other languages in the
world.
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