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  1. #1
    englishstudent78 is offline Newbie
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    Default Can you please explain these English idioms/ sentences to me?

    Hello everybody!

    I haven't written anything in English for a long time, and I think it shows. :(

    I've been making flashcards because I have to learn some words for my translation class. My flashcards are all fill-in-the-blank type(s?).
    There are some sentences and words that still don't make sense to me even after I looked them up in the dictionary, so I need some help with them.
    Please let me know if the sentences sound unnatural because I took them from a book that was written by a French teacher.

    1. He could see through the door thanks to a chink in the wood.
    Does it mean there was a hole in the wood, like a peephole (but an actual hole) and that he could see through it?

    2. There was a clanking of couplings as the carriage was joined to the locomotive.
    I don't understand this sentence at all. :(

    3. The buzz of motorcycles floated across the fields.
    Were motorcycles driving on the fields or something? I don't get it. :(

    4. A chink of sunlight came through the curtains.
    =Some sunlight filtered through the curtains?

    5. The President announced the shareholders that there would be no dividend that year.
    I don't understand this sentence.

    6. The sound of a two-stroke engine
    What is a two-stroke engine?

    7. A chirping flock of small children
    I don't understand this sentence at all. :( What are the children doing?

    8. So far the rival companies are level in their take-over bid. The crunch will come tomorrow at the meeting of the shareholders.
    I don't get this sentence either!

    9. The ice chinked against the side of the cocktail glass.
    What is happening here? Is the ice moving inside the glass?

    10. The dog crunched the bone.
    What exactly is the dog doing?

    11. I think this sentence is awkward so I corrected it a bit.
    It's easy to devalue a currency. But suppose other countries react by devaluing theirs? That's the crunch.
    Why does it say "that's the crunch"?


    12. He crunched over the hard snow (his boots broke over the brittle surface).
    What is he doing exactly?

    Thank you very much for helping me! :)

  2. #2
    probus's Avatar
    probus is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Can you please explain these English idioms/ sentences to me?

    So many questions. I don't want to be greedy, so I will just take two and leave the rest for other people.

    5. The President announced to the shareholders that there would be no dividend that year.

    Either the firm has fallen on hard times or it has a pressing need to re-invest its profits in its business. Either way, according to the president, there will not be enough money to pay a dividend during the coming year. Le président a dit aux actionnaires que l'entreprise ne pouvait pas payer un dividende au cours de l'année à venir.

    6. The sound of a two-stroke engine
    What is a two-stroke engine?

    There are two types of gasoline (petrol) powered internal combustion engine. In a four stroke cycle engine the lubricating oil rests at the bottom of the crankcase, the shell below the crankshaft. The rotation of the crankshaft splashes the oil upward through passages called galleys into the reciprocating parts of the engine, i.e. the pistons, valves, rings etc.

    In a two stroke cycle engine the lubricating oil is simply mixed into the fuel and burnt. Therefore two stroke engines produce much smokier and more polluting exhaust gas. The blue smoke produced by older motorcycles, and by the unlamented old Skoda cars from communist-era Czeckoslovakia, showed that their engines were two stroke.

    To the best of my knowledge, however, two stroke engines do not have a distinctive sound. It is easy to distinguish the sound of a single cylinder engine like that of the old Enfield Bullet, boom boom boom boom, from the sound of a modern v-twin like a Harley Davidson or Honda, potato potato potato, but I don't think you can tell a two stroke by its sound.
    Last edited by probus; 11-Feb-2013 at 02:12. Reason: correct typo

  3. #3
    Grumpy's Avatar
    Grumpy is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Can you please explain these English idioms/ sentences to me?

    1. He could see through the door thanks to a chink in the wood.
    Does it mean there was a hole in the wood, like a peephole (but an actual hole) and that he could see through it?

    Yes. Or there may have been a small hole/gap between the boards which made up the door.

    2. There was a clanking of couplings as the carriage was joined to the locomotive.
    I don't understand this sentence at all.

    A "clank" or "clunk" is the sound made when two heavy metallic objects collide. "Couplings" are the heavy metallic mechanisms which connect railway carriages and locomotives to one another. The connection is made by bumping the locomotive slowly into the carriage. Hence the collision; hence the clanking!

    3. The buzz of motorcycles floated across the fields.
    Were motorcycles driving on the fields or something? I don't get it. :(

    We don't know where the motorcycles were driving. It may have been in the fields; more likely it was on a road beyond the fields. In any case, there were fields between the motorcycles and where the listener was positioned, the noise was heard coming from across the fields.

    4. A chink of sunlight came through the curtains.
    =Some sunlight filtered through the curtains?

    Yes. Or maybe there were some "chinks" or small gaps in the curtains?

    7. A chirping flock of small children
    I don't understand this sentence at all. :( What are the children doing?
    The children are behaving like a group of small birds: grouped close to one another, and talking excitedly together in high voices. Hence the metaphor.

    8. So far the rival companies are level in their take-over bid. The crunch will come tomorrow at the meeting of the shareholders.
    I don't get this sentence either!
    The rival companies are competing, either to take control of another company, or to take over one another. A final decision - or at least a significant one - will be taken at tomorrow's meeting. In this context, "crunch" means "final resolution" or "end game".

    9. The ice chinked against the side of the cocktail glass.

    What is happening here? Is the ice moving inside the glass?
    Yes. See "clanking" above.

    10. The dog crunched the bone.
    What exactly is the dog doing?
    The dog chewed the bone. As the bone broke into small pieces, it made a sound known as "crunching".

    11. It's easy to devalue a currency. But suppose other countries react by devaluing theirs? That's the crunch.
    Why does it say "that's the crunch"?
    That's yet another common meaning of "crunch", meaning "difficulty" - but you can also see that it's related to the meaning in 8. above.

    12. He crunched over the hard snow (his boots broke over the brittle surface).
    What is he doing exactly?
    He is walking over the snow. The sound his boots make as they break through the hard surface is similar to that made by the dog chewing on the bone in 10. above.

    Finally, re probus's explanation of 2-stroke engines vs 4-stroke engines: although it is correct to say that the lubrication system is different in most [but not all] cases; that is not the essential, defining difference. A 2-stroke engine
    completes a power cycle in one crankshaft revolution and with two strokes (up and down movements) of the piston; whereas a "four-stroke engine" uses two crankshaft revolutions and four strokes to do so.

    Phew!
    I'm not a teacher of English, but I have spoken it for (almost) all of my life....

  4. #4
    Barb_D's Avatar
    Barb_D is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Can you please explain these English idioms/ sentences to me?

    None of these are idioms. They are some metaphors (the children/birds), there is some onamonapia (Onamonapia - definition of Onamonapia by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia.), and some vocabulary you didn't know before.

    Note that we would normally say that ice "clinks" not that ice "chinks."
    Last edited by 5jj; 10-Feb-2013 at 18:18.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  5. #5
    englishstudent78 is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Can you please explain these English idioms/ sentences to me?

    Thank you very much for your help!
    I'll print out your explanations and learn the meanings of the sentences I'm having trouble with.
    I'll ask my questions in the "General Discussion" subforum from now on. :)

  6. #6
    probus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can you please explain these English idioms/ sentences to me?

    You will be much better off posting your questions in Ask a Teacher. That is where you are likely to get the quickest response.

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