(Not So) Idiosyncratic Idioms

Eric Albanese '20

The Project

Much of my project was creating etymologies, connecting phrases, and translating, but the main idea was the messages were the same. That’s what I was connecting. I was connecting the ideas that these idioms were communicating. We use letters to build a word to say a simple idea. When I say “purple chair,” the image that comes to your mind is, well, a purple chair. But what if I wanted to do something more complex. Say I wanted to talk about the point of “arguing to a crowd that already agrees.” That’s kind of wordy and frankly doesn’t have a good ring to it. Or I could condense that down and say, “preaching to the choir.” Now, I’m not actually preaching to a choir, I’m sitting here and telling you about a group that I’m arguing to that agrees with me. But we’ve all agreed that that’s the meaning. That’s the power of an idiom. It communicates a complex idea without necessarily going through all the process of describing it in detail.

What I Learned

“One thing I learned from this project was that we’re very much the same people today than we were 2,000 years ago.”