Acquisition of English Idioms by Adult L1 Arabic Speakers

Fatima Salaheldeen Ahmed Hamza, Wong Bee Eng, Mohamed Taha Ali Hassan


Human beings use language to serve in a number of linguistic domains that comprises language variation with different entities and characteristics. The variation in the use of language is also seen in the use of idioms. The aim of this study was to find out whether the proficiency level of adult L1 Arabic speakers affects their acquisition of English idioms and idioms translated from Arabic. The study also aimed to investigate which constitute the most difficult types of English idioms (e.g. transparent idioms, semi-transparent idioms and opaque idioms) among those selected for the study for adult L1 Arabic speakers to acquire. Finally the purpose of the study was to decide on the kinds of strategies that they employ to comprehend the English idioms chosen for the study. The study task was a questionnaire comprising fifteen idioms translated from Arabic and fifteen English idioms. The findings indicated that the respondents were found to be less proficient in their acquisition of the English idioms selected for the study compared to their knowledge of idioms translated from Arabic. Findings also showed that the most difficult types of English idioms were semi-transparent and opaque idioms. In addition, "guessing from context" strategy used frequently by respondents to comprehend the English idioms selected for the study.


L2 acquisition, idioms acquisition, English idioms, L1 Arabic speakers

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