Research Key

The Use of English and French Idiomatic Expressions by Non-Native Speakers: The Case of Bilingual Cameroonians

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International: $20
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Qualitative method
Analytical tool
Descriptive statistics
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This study seeks to evaluate the understanding of English and French idiomatic expressions by non-native speakers.

The main objective of this study is to investigate how English and French idiomatic expressions are used by bilingual Cameroonians and to identify if equivalences are known.

This paper, therefore, hypothesizes that the use of idiomatic expressions by non-native speakers depends on their level of understanding and that the misunderstanding of idiomatic expressions could be because it is not part of their culture. The experiment research design was used to carry out this study.

The instrument used for data collection is the questionnaire made of twenty idiomatic expressions and the respondents were asked to give the equivalence in French and the meaning in English of those expressions. The data obtained from the questionnaire were analyzed using Excerpts.

The findings showed that one can know the meaning in English but not the equivalence in French and vice versa.

The findings also showed that the misunderstanding of an idiomatic expression can lead to a wrong equivalence. Common expressions are better mastered than uncommon ones. Following the findings, some suggestions were made for further research such as the reasons why some idiomatic expressions are misunderstood and misused.




This chapter will cover the basic knowledge in the introduction of the use of English and French idiomatic expressions by non-native speakers and look at the background of the problem,

the statement of the problem, the research objectives, the research hypotheses, the research methodology, the delimitation of scope, the structure of the study and the conclusion of this first chapter.

Background of the study

According to the Oxford Dictionary 2013, an Idiomatic expression is an expression whose meaning cannot be inferred from the meaning of the words that make it up. Idiomatic expressions are also non-standard speech, slang, or dialect that are natural to native speakers of a language.

By those definitions, we notice that idiomatic expressions are complex notions in terms of understanding their meaning.

Only native speakers of a language can easily understand an idiomatic expression because they contain part of their culture. Many languages use idiomatic expressions but the languages that will be the focus of our study are English and French; the two official languages of Cameroon.

Every language and dialect involves its own complex system of idioms, metaphors, and other bits of figurative language that oftentimes perplex non-native speakers. View the complexity of idiomatic expressions in terms of understanding, culture is an important factor to be taken into consideration.

In other to master or better translate idiomatic expressions, one should know both the culture of the target and source language.

Our topic “The use of English and French idiomatic expressions by non-native speakers” will enable us to know how second-language speakers of English and French use idiomatic expressions. Due to the complexity of idiomatic expressions and the fact that they are not indispensable in the learning process of a language, people pay less attention to idiomatic expressions.

Statement of the problem

There are no languages without idiomatic expressions and English and French are part of them. Does a bilingual Cameroonian who is a non-native speaker understand English and French idiomatic expressions? Can he or she give the appropriate equivalence of an English idiomatic expression in French and vice versa?

Research questions

What are the idiomatic expressions we will focus on? What is the level of understanding of those idiomatic expressions? Are their equivalences known? What are the possible corrections to those errors?

Research objectives

The main objective of this study is to investigate how English and French idiomatic expressions are used by bilingual Cameroonians. The other aims of this study are:

To identify the idiomatic expressions

To determine the level of understanding of the idiomatic expressions

To identify if equivalences are known

To effect correction where necessary


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