Motion Pictures, TV Shows and Idioms

Credit: Google’s Images

To understand English as it is spoken in real life, you have to be familiar with idioms.  They are used so much in everyday English, that it’s important to be aware of them.  You need to learn what they mean, and how to use them to become an “insider”  You know what I mean.

After Netflix was launched in Latin America, I became one of the first early birds to sign up. True to its word, Netflix became available in Panama and other countries in Latin America.  On Monday, September 12, 2011, I received an e-mail from Netflix advising that I could open an account to use their services in Panama.

A month earlier I had already done that, and was only waiting for the launch date sometime in September.  All I needed was to include my credit card information and apply for a 30-day-free-trial period.  That process took less than 5 minutes.  I was ready to go with a database of hundreds if not thousands of movies at my disposal.

For $7.99 a month, you get unlimited movies and TV episodes instantly over the Internet either directly to your TV set or computer.  There are no ads, and you can pause, rewind, fast forward, or rewatch as often as you like.  You can watch as often as you want, anytime you want on a 24/7 basis.

You can also cancel your subscription at anytime online 24 hours a day.  There are no cancellation fees, caveat, there are no refunds for partial months.  Your account is charged each month on your anniversary date; meaning when you opened your account.

All this time I have enjoyed many films and TV shows which helps me endure the ever passing days and improve my understanding the English language.  Content is spoken in English with Spanish sub-titles.  What I don’t catch in English, the Spanish safety net will take care of the rest.  The best of both worlds.

Last week I finished viewing a popular TV show dubbed, Law & Order about the activities of the elite SVU (Special Victims Unit) operating in New York City—Manhattan.  I paid close attention to the Big Apple’s buildings, bridges, tunnels, boroughs, clothing, people, accents, demographics, and idiomatic phrases.  I learned a lot of stuff about the metropolis.

For those of you who are studying English as your second language, the following information can help you understand the language.  All idioms were grasped viewing Law and Order episodes on a 32″ LG TV set connected to a wireless Apple TV box.  Here we go.

“Going down the rabbit hole”:  This phrase represents embarking on an adventure, a bizarre or different state or situation.  It is allusion to Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland”.  To go down the rabbit hole is to enter a period of chaos or confusion.  It can also be said when taken a hallucinogenic, as some suspect Carroll’s novel was really about a drug trip.  Examples:  School’s starting up again, time to “go down the rabbit hole” once more.  Shoreline residents are finding themselves helplessly falling down a rabbit hole in their Sisyphean efforts to halt beach erosion.

“Open up your kimono”:  A 1990’s phrase that means that everyone should share data. There should be no secrets between those in the meeting. As in a Japanese wife showing her husband her naked body by opening her silk robe or kimono. Example:  If we’re going to make any progress with this new standard, we’re going to make sure everyone agrees to open the kimono and not withhold any information.

“You are hanging your hat on the wrong rack”:  It means that you are depending on wrong or inaccurate information.  Hanging your hat on something means to depend on something.  Example:   The company’s earnings were up 70 percent last year, but I don’t think you can hang your hat on that kind of growth.  To believe something.  Example:   It’s hard to hang your hat on a lack of money as the real reason they didn’t take the trip.

4.  “We play our cards close to the vest”:  It means to keep one’s plans, intentions, or tactics secret from everyone else. Refers to holding one’s playing cards close to one’s chest in a card game, so as not to allow other players to see one’s hand.  Examples:   We’re all curious about what the boss has been discussing in those meetings with the lawyers, but she’s playing her cards close to her chest. Sorry for not being more straightforward about my plans, but I’m playing my cards close to my chest for the time being. 

5.  “You put on a white hat”:  To adopt the posture of goodness or righteousness.  One who is admirable and honorable.  A mark or symbol of goodness.  Example:  I could use a few more guys in white hats.

“Hook, line and sinker”:  Used to emphasize that someone has been completely deceived or tricked.  Without reservation, completely.  Examples:  He fell hook, lin and sinker for this year’s April Fool joke.  They believed every word; hook, line and sinker.  This expression first recorded in 1865, alludes to a fish swallowing not only the baited hook, but the leaden sinker and the entire fishing line between them.

There are many ways to learn English.  Watching movies and TV shows is one of them—that is, if you have the time to do so.  You can learn so much from this entertaining source.  Good Day.

2 thoughts on “Motion Pictures, TV Shows and Idioms”

  1. Hola Omar, when Nena came to the “states” in the 1970s, she spoke almost no English. She watched the daily “soap operas” and learned English from those. The shows were very dramatic so the meaning of the English being spoken was very obvious. I recommend novelas to get comfortable with hearing Spanish for the same reasons.

    I will give you homework to research why the programs were called “soap operas”. 🙂

    1. Morning Jim and Nena:

      Yes, I also think that soap operas and other similar TV content are great tools to learn a language. Body language, facial exprssions, and the words themselves can be excellent leads to the means of what is going on. I’m not leaned toward “novelas“, but my wife loves them.

      I think the term “soap operas” got their names because they had a lot of soap ad in them. The term soap opera originated from such dramas being typically sponsored by soap manufacturers in the past.

      They were were frequently called “soap operas”, “soapies“, or just plain “soaps“. Yep, I did my homework. 🙂



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