R. Marinelli, L. Cignoni

National Research Council (CNR) (ITALY)
This paper is a proposal for better learning of idiomatic seafaring expressions to be exploited in Content and Language Learning (CLIL) maritime English courses. These courses are specifically designed for individuals with little or no prior knowledge of maritime language, wishing to undertake professional training in Naval Academies or to embark on a career as officers, engineers or crew members, or to work in import-export companies, tour operators and shipping agencies. The starting point of our research was a set of idiomatic expressions included and structured in a lexical database of maritime terminology (Mariterm), organized in semantic relations and containing around 3500 Italian lemmas, clustered into approximately 2,500 synsets (sets of one or more synonyms), e.g.: affondare, andare a fondo (to sink). Each term is linked to other terms of the specialized lexicon by means of lexical semantic relations, and the definition of each word in both languages and the translation into English is provided. A number of phraseological expressions and sayings, for instance "seguire la corrente" (to go with the tide) in Italian, “to hold course” in English, as well as information of a historical type, have been included in the database. As the terminology contained in Mariterm is constantly connected to the English language, we thought it was worth highlighting the English idiomatic expression with its translation into Italian, despite the fact that the Italian expressions sometimes belong to other semantic fields. The single or multiword expressions can be equivalent and idiomatic in both languages (essere sulla stessa barca/”to be in the same boat”); or can be idiomatic in one of the two languages but not in the other (essere un porto di mare/”to be like Piccadilly Circus”); or, viceversa, “sail close to the wind”/camminare sul filo del rasoio, thus highlighting similarities and differences related to concept representation in the two languages. In some cases, the terminological database managing tool allows for visualization of etymological or historical information related to the idiomatic expression sought for. Idioms are widely used in everyday language, and their complex constructions make them extremely difficult to understand, let alone to use, for non-native speakers. Some phrases referable to the seafaring field are clear, eg.: “to go with the flow” (continue in the same way as others), while others require background knowledge of their historical origin in order to be understood and better memorized, e.g.:” feeling blue” (to describe a feeling of sadness). Starting from the terminological database and using different and appropriate exercises, each phraseological item is provided with a definition, the Italian equivalent when it exists, and information about its origins. We present each idiom highlighting some variations, and giving when possible example sentences in context from well known and validated sources of various types (web sites, specialized maritime journals, handbooks, grey literature, newsletters and other publications), which can help the learner understand when and how a particular idiom is used and to illustrate important grammar points of the English language, making the learning process more interesting and appealing.