The Korean Association for the Study of English Language and Linguistics

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Korean Journal of English Language and Linguistics - Vol. 21

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Korea Journal of English Language and Linguistics - Vol. 21, No. 0, pp.697-711
Abbreviation: KASELL
ISSN: 1598-1398 (Print) 2586-7474 (Online)
Received 28 Jul 2021 Revised 18 Aug 2021 Accepted 25 Aug 2021

English Idioms in Asian Englishes: A Corpus-Based Investigation
Chirbet C. Ayunon ; Shirley N. Dita
(1st author) Professor, Department Arts and Humanities, Cagayan State University Carig Campus, Tuguegarao City, Cagayan, Philippines, Tel: +639567327354 (
(corresponding author) Professor, Department of English and Applied Linguistics, De La Salle University, Manila, Philippines, Tel: +63 2 85244611 (

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This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons License, which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The goal of this study was to investigate the use of English idioms in Asian Englishes, particularly, Indian English, Singapore English, Malaysian English, Philippine English and Hong Kong English. Research on the varieties of English in the past have concentrated on the grammatical features, emerging lexicons, phonology and many other aspects of the English varieties. In all the studies reviewed, the field of figurative language seems to have been neglected. To fill this gap, this study used the five Asian components of the Global Web-Based English (GloWbE) corpus. The idioms that were explored in the paper were based on the study of Simpson and Mendis (2013) which listed 32 most frequent idioms. Since the list given by Simpson and Mendis (2013) are idioms common in their context, the list was trimmed down into ten by searching their occurrences in the Philippine corpus. The data revealed that the idioms included in this study were also seen as being used by the speakers of the Asian Englishes. We can speculate that the occurrence of these idioms in their speech is a reflection of the Asian speakers’ attempt to achieve native-like speech. Using the idioms listed in this study, it appeared that Indian English has recorded the most number of occurrences while Hong Kong English has the least. Some forms or variants of the idioms have also emerged from some Asian Englishes which may reflect the uniqueness of the particular English variety as they try to embrace and own the language.

Keywords: idioms, Asian Englishes, Indian English, Singapore English, Malaysia English, Philippine English, HongKong English

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