Tuesday, May 31, 2011

英語総合1A Global Issues Unit 4:Culture in Language

Hello everyone!
Today we are going to talk about culture in language.

First, let's study some vocabulary. Please click this link: 英語総合1A Vocabulary.

Some of the most common expressions we use reflect our culture. For example, "Keep your stick on the ice!" is a Canadian expression that means, "Always be ready!" This expression reflects the importance of hockey in Canadian culture.
What are some common expressions in your language that reflect your country's culture? Please write a comment below, but please don't use language inappropriate to a classroom or business setting.


  1. Hey there, Enzo, from Argentina here. Very interesting phrase! In South American Spanish we have a phrase that goes like this "A llorar a la iglesia". Literally, it'd be "Go to the church to cry", and it's a phrase that we use for people who are continually whining and complaining about how unfair sth is (in their opinion), usually when you have gained some kind of advantage over them. It's a way of saying: C'mon, life goes on, don't devote so much time to sth that can't be changed or solved. In my opinion it reflects two different aspects: 1) a Christian-Catholic tradition, and 2) the fact that people are often treated with disregard by the authorities (police officers, government officials and civil servants) and you know you can't do anything about it because they're the ones who are in a position of power, so it's a way of saying to someone "Whining isn't gonna help, so keep it to yourself". Hope this helps. Good post!

  2. Yoshihiro10:16 am

    I think "弓道-Kyudo (Japanese archery)" reflects Japanese spirits because we have to pay careful attention to all movement or detail to do Kyudo.

  3. Kunika10:17 am

    I think "そんなことないです" reflects japanese culture because Japanese feel timid but they don't do that in another country.

  4. Fumiaki10:18 am

    I think 能ある鷹は爪を隠す (A hawk with ability hides its sharp talons) reflects Japanese culture because we don't often think it's good to stand out.

  5. Takanori10:18 am

    I think that "Nagatomo" is Japanese soccer player!! He belong to Intel club team. Intel is traditional and strong Italian team. I think Italian league more strong than Japanese one. But "Nagatomo" play an active pare there and he is the most promising player this year!! So, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

  6. I think 転ばぬ先の杖(prevention is better than cure) reflects Japanese culture because Japanese people is very carefully.

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  8. hiroki10:19 am

    I think Indian reflects japanese culture because they also bow when they meet.

  9. nanaka10:19 am

    I think SHITUREiITASHIMASHITA refrect Japanese culture because,Japanese be careful human position and is modestly.

  10. I think "itigoitie" refrects Japanese culture because the origin this proverb is "sadou". Sadou is Japanese culture from sengoku-zidai.

  11. I think "If it pushes and is useless, it pulls and is everyone" reflects Japanese culture. Because It doesn't only advance to the purpose.
    To settles down once is important. Japanese look everything calm.So I think this proverb reflect japanese culture.

  12. Yusuke10:20 am

    I think that When in Roma, do as the Romans do reflects Japanese culture because most Japanese don't want to derange existing society.

  13. I think experssion of rain relrects Japanease culture and climate because Japanease rain expression is so various.For example 'Kosame'[小雨:tiny rain],'Hisame'[氷雨:winter season's rain],'Kirisame'[霧雨:fine rain]etc...It's so many expression about rain.It's relrect Japan as rainy country and agricultural country for a long time.

    But these expression is erasing.This connect to agricultural popuration is declining in modern Japanease.It's so sad and dangerous for Japan.

  14. I think "才子、才に倒れる"(A clever man often fails because of overconfidence in his cleverness) reflects Japanese culture because Japanese person is so earnest
    .They don't think that reveal themselves is clever.

  15. I think some of proverbs reflect Lapanese clture because ,for example,"Good fences make good neighbors!" means "Don't forget to be polite if you get on very well!". It reflects the importance of manner in Japanese culture.

  16. I think "goma wo suru"reflects Japanese culture because Japanese want to give others a good impression.

  17. Shohei10:21 am

    I think "mottainai" reflects Japanese culture. It means "That's a waste". We have to respect our time in Japan. So usually the train comes on time in Japan. Or we have to value food. If we waste food, that's "mottainai".

  18. I think proverbs reflects Japanese culture.For example "NANAKOROBIYAOKI",it is "roll over 7 times and get up 8." in English.It means to pull out of that rut and mend things.Japanese is don't forget and make an effort.

  19. Tomohiro10:23 am

    I think order of Japanese words reflect Japanese Culture because order of languages clarifies the differnce of languages and cultures.
    The order of English is SVO.Japanese is SOCOCOCocococococV.(I'm serious.)
    Japanese Verb tends to be religated to the end of text, so Japanese text is not clear.
    And Japanese culture is not clear.
    So the order of Japanese words reflects Japanese Culture.

  20. yukihiro10:23 am

    I think (継続は力なり)Parseverence is strength refrects Japanese culture because Japan would keep growing.

  21. I think "Mottainai" reflects Japanese culture because this word shows mind of Japanese people that handle things carefully.This word was often used in ancient for a mean that respect a person in a high position.And then we use it today to all things.

  22. I think "Hana yori dango" reflects Japanese clutere because "Dango" is japanese food!! To prefer substance over style, as in to prefer to be given functional, useful items (such as dumplings) instead of merely decorative items (such as flowers).

  23. I think "arigatougozaimasu" reflects Japanese culture because this word can express feeling of thanks. Japanese use this word many times. In addition, Japanese use this word with bowing, handclasp and smiling. This can meke you feel good, not disgusted. It is a Japanese spirit that discribing feeling of thanksfullness. Also, Japanese can use complex exprettion by chenging end of sentence. For example, "arigatou" is basic exprettion which you can use for everyone. Next, "arigatougozaimasu" is very considerate expretion for older person. And, "ookini" is paticuler kind of expretion which used by people in Osaka. This expretion is vety interesting and friendly.

  24. Chihiro10:24 am

    I think "SIO WO MORU" reflects Japanese culture.
    Because salt is holy in japan.
    We can purge place where we put heap of salt.
    For example DOHYOU or house.

  25. Kenta Sano10:24 am

    I think "the nail that sticks out gets hammered down" reflects Japanese culture because it reflects Japanese person's restrained attitude.

  26. takuya10:25 am

    I think kendo refrects Japanese culture because kendo is polite and patient. It's symbolize "BUSHI". Japanese people should be polite and patient in japanese society. It show "Japanese spilit".

  27. Sayumi10:25 am

    I think "以心伝心" reflects Japanese culture because we can make others nebulously understand our thoughts without using many words.

  28. tetsuya10:26 am

    I think "猫に小判(neko ni koban)" reflects Japanese culture because 小判 is Japanese old money.This proverb means casting pearls before swine / Giving something of value to a recipient that does not value it .

  29. Miyuki10:26 am

    I think "KURUSHIITOKKINOKAMIDANOMI" reflect Japanese culture because Japanese people asked god who have need help.

  30. I think "UOGOKOROAREBAMIZUGOKORO" reflects Japanese culture. Becouse a lot of Japanese pepole often worry about cooperate minded, and determine what they do next depend on what others do.

  31. Tsuyoshi10:28 am

    I think visual rock reflects Japanese culture because visual rock is popular other countries.
    For example X JAPAN and Dir en grey.
    these bands perform world tour.
    Yoshiki belongs among X JAPAN has already become a world composer.
    So visual rock supports Japan.

  32. Natsuki10:28 am

    I think Doraemon reflects Japanese culture because Doraemon is very famous animation all over the world.
    Doraemon is animation charactor.he has wonder pocket,because when he take item from his pocket, it's always happened Miracle.
    so his charactor makes happy all people.
    in conclusion, please watch Doraemon .
    If you watch doraemon , you will be happy.
    That's it

  33. Ryotaro10:29 am

    I think 'Ichigoichie' reflects Japanese culture because it means meeting only once in a lifetime
    .So Japanese teasure every encounter as it can be the last time in them life.

  34. Richard W12:55 pm

    In the wilds of Lincolnshire, local inhabitants have been known to depart with the phrase: 'Take care mucker', or 'Take care me old mucker' - neither of which are easy to warm to. Unlike you me jolly fella;-) Richard Gere's Gear.

  35. To "eat humble pie", is a common British saying which means to apologise profusely for something you have done wrong, and to show humility towards the person you have wronged.

    I think this saying reflects British culture because Britain is quite a formal society in some ways, and British people tend to apologise for things quite frequently - although not always to the extent that "humble pie" gets eaten!

  36. Hi everyone,

    Here are some sayings from Germany:

    Perhaps the most famous German saying is Goethe's
    "Wo viel Licht ist, ist auch viel Schatten." Where there is (much) light, there too is (much) shadow. Recognizing implicit problems, rather than just enjoying what is good while it lasts, is a very German trait.

    Then there's that deep German conservatism:
    "Was der Bauer nicht kennt, das frisst er nicht." What the farmer doesn't know, he will not eat.

    German sayings have a moralistic undertone:
    "Wer anderen eine Grube gräbt, fällt selbst hinein." - He who digs a ditch for others will fall in himself, meaning dishonorable behavior will come back and get you.

    But there's also a down-to-earth humor in these sayings - e.g.
    "Zweimal abgeschnitten und immer noch zu kurz, sagte der Schneider." - Shortened twice, and still too short, said the tailor.

  37. What a great project!

    I grew up in southern California, so some of my favorite expressions come from the car, beach and earthquake culture there.

    From the freeways we have "life in the fast lane" (a fast-paced lifestyle). Something that is extremely good (like an awesome wave!) is "off the scale" or "off the Richter" (from the scale used to measure earthquakes).

  38. Hello to Mr. Stout's students from Dublin. I think what you're doing is really cool, using the blog and twitter to practice your English. Here's a nasty expression for you. In Dublin when your teacher's angry with you he might 'eat the head off you'. Shouting and criticizing and so on. What do you say in Japan...'kireru???' I'm sure Mr. Stout never does that!

  39. Hi,

    A famous Greek painter, Yiannis Tsarouchis (http://www.tsarouchis.gr/) is the originator of this great saying which is very popular in my country

    "Στην Ελλάδα είσαι ότι δηλώσεις"

    "In Greece you are whatever you declare you are"

    Many people use to when referring to people who are professing themselves experts, or artists or anything but are not very good at it!!!


  40. Anonymous4:51 am

    In Arabic we say "el salamu alykim" when you see someone and you want to greet him/her.

  41. Hello I´m a teacher from Portugal. We have this one "Águas passadas não movem moinhos" that means "Past waters don't power mills"

    Mills are usually located and powered by rivers. The water that has passed the mill will not make it work again. So this means that you shouldn't worry about things of the past.

  42. Anonymous5:55 am

    In Brazil we have the expression "estar no mato sem cachorro" which means literally, to be in the woods without a dog. A dog is a loyal animal that you can always count on, and without it, how are you gonna survive? The expression means that you are in big trouble and it's hard to solve it.

  43. Thanks everyone for all your comments. I've learned a lot. I wish I could have set this up so that the comments could have been spoken. It'd be nice to hear how these various proverbs sound in the first language. I got two more comments on facebook from teachers in Greece. here they are:

    Nora Touparlaki said,

    I'm posting "Δεν ελπίζω τιποτα, δεν φοβαμαι τιποτα, ειμαι ελεύθερος", by Greek writer, philospopher Nikos Kazantzakis, which means I have no hope,I have no fears, I am FREE" ., reflecting the passion of Greek people to get free from conquerors!

    Ochendo George Raptopoulos said,
    I'd go for 'Τσαμπα μαγκας" roughly translated 'daredevil for free' reflecting the Greek attitude to being brave in the face of trouble-that is that we do not respect one who benefits from other people's bravery

    Thanks again for all the great comments!

  44. I agree to Kunika's opinion.Japanese bother about others not to incur their displeasure.Also,Japanese don't want to give a bad impression to others.Therefore,we often use "そんなことないです”not to say our ideas.I think that this ward is very useful and reflects Japanese character.

  45. Chihiro5:09 pm

    I agree to Izumi's opinion.
    Because In Japan, Mottainai spirit exist since ancient times.
    For example,in my family,we reuse paper that is
    printed on only one side.

  46. I agree to Kayo's opinion.Because I think that Japanese do good answer to everybody,When they can't do good answer.So "goma wo suru"reflects Japanese culture.

  47. Kunika9:11 pm

    I agree with Izumi's opinion.
    I have heard that the expression "もったいない" is not in English and in other languages. In recent japan,a lot of things are thrown away. I want other people to know the importance of this word,and to increase "もったいない" more.

  48. Ryoichi9:12 pm

    I agree to tetsuya`s opinion. NEKONIKOBAN is example that to gave valuable things for them who can`t understand value is useless. A koban was from Japan and used only in japan. And,it expersses japanese background of the times that koban was the source of a market.
    So,If expressed japanese culture, I think NEKONIKOBAN is suited for it.

  49. Miyuki10:08 pm

    I agree to Mizuki's opinion.
    I think expression of rain is peculiar sensibility to Japan. And there are the four seasons and relation.It culture of the very beautiful word.
    But I'm sad to a person who feels the season little.

  50. Sayumi10:53 pm

    I agree to Kenta's opinion. "The nail that sticks out gets hammered down" reflects Japanese culture because there are hierarchical societies in Japan. For example, new comers mention their opinions about the government, absolutely some experienced politicians criticize them.

  51. Tomohiro11:28 pm

    I agree with Fumiaki's opinion.
    能ある鷹は爪を隠す (A hawk with ability hides its sharp talons) reflects most Japanese people's hidden mind.
    Japanese usually don't think that it's good to stand out. And the proverb helps Japanese think it's good thing for themselves to hide their ability and not to stand out.

  52. I agree to Miyuki’s opinion,""KURUSHIITOKKINOKAMIDANOMI" reflect Japanese culture".
    The Japanese has a lot of people of the irreligion.
    We don't have the custom of go to church to pray every week.
    But, Japanese prays for God's help when need help.

  53. hiroki7:18 am

    I agree with Kunika`s opinion.
    Becausu Japanese people always pay attention to someone who are anknown person.

  54. Takanori7:33 am

    I agree to Yoshihiro`s opinion.
    I think that Japanese often pay attention to their work, study, health, language, etc. So, it is important for Japanese to pay attention many things!!

  55. Erika8:43 am

    I'm against Izumi's opinion.I think "mottainai" is now being forgotten, for example "hand-me-downs". Young people often think wearing hand-me-downs is frumpy or stingy. So they don't like do so.

  56. Yoshihiro8:43 am

    I agree with Takuya's opinion.He said that Kendo is polite and patient.I think kendo stand for a spirit making one thing perfect too.
    This spirit expresses a basic Japanese culture, so Kendo reflects Japanese culture.

  57. Ryoji8:58 am

    I agree to Chihiro's opinion.Because Japan is a sea-girt country, it has deep from of old relations with the salt. Therefore, they have the culture of the salt for a long time. For instance, Japanese scatter the salt on door and those bodies before it enters the house after the funeral. This is because of being believed that sacred power is kept secret in the salt as understood from her opinion.

  58. nanaka9:06 am

    I think everyone so good.
    I sympathize!

  59. Yukihiro9:08 am

    I agree to Izumi's opinion.
    `mottainai' is japanese original spirit.
    It is simbolizise Japan.

  60. Shohei9:08 am

    To Sue Lyon-Jones. I thought the British culture is similar to Japanese culture. I think Japanese eat "humble pie" too, because we frequently say "sumimasen" or "gomennasai" which means sorry even if we`re not wrong. Japanese tend to show humility towards higher ranking people and also peers. "shitasiki naka nimo reigi ari" which means courtesy should be exercised even among intimate friends, is a Japanese culture.

  61. Yuuma9:13 am

    I agree to Anne opinion.
    There is a lot of dark in the place with a lot of light.
    I thought that it was the street.

  62. Ryotaro9:14 am

    I agree miguela's opinon.
    I think "Past waters don't power mills" is great expression and human's life likes streaming water.So I sympathize the idea.

  63. I agrees to Shohei's opinion.
    The idea "Mottainai" has exists for a long time. For example, in Edo period, people recycled human wastes.