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  1. #1
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    Default More depth would improve idiom explanations

    Hi,

    I just found your site. Nice! However, I found myself unsatisfied with the depth. You offer an simple explanation of the meaning of an idiom. That's useful. However, there is no way to bore deeper into the origin of the idiom (like where it originated, the meanings/origins of the words perhaps).

    As it is, it is like stating that "philosopher XXX presents an overly facile worldview" without justifying that in any way. No depth, could be just opinion.

    I think if you could click for a more in-depth look at an idiom, it would make your site more useful and valuable. I realize that would be a lot more work! But if you set it up, at least it could be there for some items.

  2. #2
    Red5 is offline Webmaster, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: More depth would improve idiom explanations

    Thank you for your comments. I have forwarded them to the site Editor.

    Regards,

    Red

  3. #3
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: More depth would improve idiom explanations

    This is an ESL site, so it is designed for non-native speakers. With idioms, meaning is more important than origin as meaning is, by definition, unclear to many of them. Therefore, our time is better spent adding idioms than examining origins, which we leave to etymology sites, linking to many in our links database (http://www.usingenglish.com/links/Et...y_and_History/). Interesting as the origins of idioms are, it would quite simply take up time that doesn't really help the people the site is designed for- if we can provide simple explanations of the meanings of idioms, then we can satisfy the people our site is primarily aimed at, though it may well be less satisfying for native speakers. As a free site, we have to rationalise our time and adding hundreds of idioms makes more sense for our users than adding dozens of origins. One thing I would disagree with, though, is the comparison with an opinion about a philospher- a one-sentence description of Marx would vary enormously and reflect the personal prejudices and beliefs or the writer, but there is far less variation about the meaning of words and phrases. While there always will be some differences, overall there wil be a general consensus. While some entries might be questioned by some in terms of degree, etc, there is general agreement. I recently added 'nut out' and wasn't sure whether to classify it as optionally or mandatorily separable, but couldn't find an example where it wasn't separated. I may well be wrong here, but such differences are fairly minor.
    Last edited by Red5; 03-Dec-2005 at 14:31.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: More depth would improve idiom explanations

    Thanks for enlightening me, tdol. I whizzed into usingenglish.com via google, and was not aware that it is an ESL-focused site. One of the hazards of websurfing these days.

    The simple explanations without elaboration make more sense in that context. We must simply trust that the poster of the idiom's explanation truly knows what they're talking about.

    However, as a student of other languages such as Mandarin Chinese, I find myself most satisfied when I understand what's behind meanings, as it helps me avoid inappropriate uses.

    A professor by the name of DeForest wrote a fabulous series of books starting with 'Beginning Chinese'. In each chapter, he put extensive and clear endnote references that expanded on grammar and meaning. That way, you could increase the depth of the lesson if you wanted.

    I love that approach! It has been adding immeasurably to my understanding of the hows and whys of Mandarin Chinese. It is like having the teacher there tutoring you, so you can ask the 'why?' questions. Many texts are more like a lecturer up at the front of a big hall who does not answer those questions at all.

    I do understand that clickable expansion on the meanings may not be practical for this site--but it still would enrich it, as you surely have advanced ESL students as well as beginners, and inquiring minds want to know. That's the road to fluency.

  5. #5
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: More depth would improve idiom explanations

    It would indeed be good- if only there were more hours in the day.

    However, we do have this forum, where learners can get more detailed information.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: More depth would improve idiom explanations

    Good reply tDol,
    Your site is perfect and made of plenty of choices we want to go in.
    I understand you cannot put 4 to 5 whole type of dictionnaries under only
    one roof!
    I do not think this is a priority to know in deepth the signification of idioms to lean a second language, unless you have your whole life to do it ;o)

  7. #7
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: More depth would improve idiom explanations

    Thanks, Moniker.

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