Personal Idioms

Personal Idioms
Bunkey & Boo
Monkey & Bear
But first, a word from our . . . Comics!
General Background
What are some cultural idioms in
Kick the bucket
Raining cats and dogs
Cut to the chase
Over the hill
Throw in the towel
Break a leg
Tow the line
Key Question
• So what is an idiom?
Characteristics of Cultural Idioms
– Metaphoric—a saying, phrase, jargon
– Sometimes used for taboo/
unpleasant/embarrassing concepts
• Inherent indirectness helps protect “face”
– Often originate in cultural events, rituals,
practices, or history
– Difficult for non-members of a culture or
co-culture to understand
– Processed in both the left and right
Cultures recognize relationships—
linguistically and symbolically
BUT--a close relationship is a culture
within a culture
• To distinguish themselves, to create a
unique relational culture (identity), to
affirm closeness, partners create
personal idioms.
• Used in many types of relationships
– Friends, family, coworkers, dating, married
• Key difference between personal idioms and
cultural idioms? They are unique & emergent
• Are these personal idioms?
– Honey, sweetheart, babe, sis, bro
4 Categories of Personal
Idioms (based on 545 examples from
romantic couples)
1.Relational Intimacy
– Expressions of Affection show love, caring,
and appreciation
– Partner Nicknames are terms of address
for a close other
2.Shared knowledge and privacy
– Names for Others are labels for people
outside of the relationship
– Requests and Routines are ways to
communicate something in the presence of
others without their knowledge
Categories of Personal Idioms, cont.
3.Internal dynamics/control
– Teasing Insults are humorous ways to
tell someone that certain behaviors are
bothersome without being directly
– Confrontations are also focused on
bothersome behaviors, but without the
element of teasing
– Examples from your own life where they
Categories of Personal Idioms, cont.
4. Reducing embarrassment & establishing
– Sexual Invitations are ways of
indirectly initiating sexual interactions
– Sexual References and Euphemisms
are terms for sexual intercourse;
woman’s menstrual cycle
Summary: Functions
To create a culture of shared meaning which sets
relationship apart from the larger culture.
– Constitute part of the relational identity.
To avoid conflict over small problems (teasing insults) and
reaffirm the relationship following conflict.
– Nicknames and Terms of Affection remind partners
that they value each other and share something
To help negotiate potentially awkward situations— save
– Requests and Routines enable relationship members to
signal needs and desires within larger groups without
offending others
– Sexual References and Euphemisms allow romantic
partners to negotiate the sometimes embarrassing
circumstances of sexual activity.
Language Just for Fun
• 1. THINGY (thing-ee) n.
Female..... Any part under a car's hood.
Male..... The strap fastener on a woman's bra.
2. VULNERABLE (vul-ne-ra-bel) adj.
Female... Fully opening up one's self emotionally to another.
Male.... Playing football without a cup.
3. COMMUNICATION (ko-myoo-ni-kay-shon) n .
Female.. The open sharing of thoughts and feelings with
one's partner.
Male... Leaving a note before taking off on a fishing trip
with the boys.
4. COMMITMENT (ko- mit-ment) n.
Female.... A desire to get married and raise a family.!
Male..... Trying not to hit on other women while out with this
5. ENTERTAINMENT (en-ter-tayn-ment) n.
Female... A good movie, concert, play or book.
Male...... Anything that can be done while drinking beer.
6. FLATULENCE (flach-u-lens) n.
Female... An embarrassing byproduct of indigestion.
Male..... A source of entertainment, self-expression, male
7 MAKING LOVE (may-king luv) n.
Female..... The greatest _expression of intimacy a couple
can achieve.
Male.. Call it whatever you want, just as long as we do it.
8. REMOTE CONTROL (ri-moht kon-trohl) n.
Female... A device for changing from one TV channel to
Male... A device for scanning through all 375 channels every
5 minutes.

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