Wafa Jeza Alotaibi


This study aimed at investigating the cross-culture variation when comparing idiomatic expressions related to colour in both English and Arabic languages. Also, it tries to identify the challenges encountered by language learners in understanding the color idioms in both Arabic and English languages. Because colour idioms in English and Arabic have some commonalities in meaning as well as differences in the association. Both languages make rich use of them for which several examples are given and explained. The meanings of transparent idioms are easily logical, but more opaque ones are pure idioms that can confuse foreign language learners in case of different associations. Cross-cultural comparisons are then drawn, and an attempt is made to identify some universal colour associations and highlight stark contrasts between the two cultures. For example, the colour gray is shared in both English and Arabic as unclear and vague situations, while the colour yellow in English indicates “coward” while in Arabic refer to “fake”. It is also shown that many of the colour idioms arose from historical events, but all serve to enrich languages as long as the intended meaning is clearly understood. It is recommended that English teachers and Arab learners of English consider this cross-cultural variation between English and Arabic, which is a double-edged weapon. This could confuse learning these idioms or, as a distinguished difference, it could help in enhancing the learning outcome.


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semantic association, idioms, colour idioms, and cross-culture

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