A Tentative Study of the Cultural Connotations of Animal Words in English Idioms and Its Implication to Translation

Idioms are given the specific meanings only in a certain group or community where people create them and accept them (Hornby, 873). The origins of idioms are strongly influenced by the surrounding social and cultural background, and the factors range from geographical environment, customs to historical culture (尹富林,148). Thus, cultural information embodied in idioms requires language learners to have a good command of culture before they can grasp the correct understanding of idioms, and further achieve successful translation.
2.Cultural Differences in Chinese and English Idioms
Different cultural information contained in idioms makes it possible that misunderstanding may now and again occur during cross-cultural interactions. Some English idioms with animal words can be comprehended from their denotative meanings in Chinese while some seems to be unacceptable for readers if they are interpreted literally. Hence, it proves to be an obstacle for language learners to judge whether animal image in original text should be retained or removed in translation process. For this reason language learners should be familiar with similarities and dissimilarities of idioms about animal words in both languages for satisfactory translation.  
2.1. Similar Images of Some Animal Words
As Nida says, “the role of language within a culture and the influence of the culture on the meanings of words and idioms are so pervasive that scarcely any text be adequately understood without careful consideration of its cultural background” (Nida, 1). Connotative meanings of animal words are socially determined by the cultural background, and different cultures are correspondent to varied language features represented by their idioms. Yet in spite of discrepant cultural settings, people in both China and English-speaking countries possess the same images of or attitudes toward some animals.
Take “wolf” for example. Wolf, in people’s view, usually has been reduced to a symbol of...