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Melting pot

  • Melting pot is an idiom that is generally considered an American term. An idiom is a commonly used word, group of words, or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery or metaphors, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech like an often-used metaphor have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may use slang words or other parts of speech, is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions and idiomatic language such as hit the sack, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, silver lining, back to the drawing board, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, because they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. English phrases that are idioms should not be taken literally. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker; it is helpful to maintain a list of phrases, common expressions, colloquial terms, and popular expressions to memorize that are used figuratively or idiomatically. We will examine the meaning of the idiom melting pot, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.


     

    A melting pot is a place where people from diverse backgrounds assimilate into a new, strong culture. The idea is that people in a melting pot will influence others to adopt the best of their cultures; in turn, a new culture is created influenced by vibrant, origin cultures. America has long been considered a melting pot because of its settlement by many waves of immigrants from all over the world. Americans generally consider this influx of new ideas and energy to be invigorating to the American culture, though today, most immigrants are encouraged to assimilate yet retain a tie with their origin cultures. The expression melting pot to mean a pot in which all things melt together has been in use since the 1500s; however, the figurative meaning of melting pot has been in use the latter 1800s. The idiom melting pot became very popular after a play of the same name was produced by English playwright Israel Zangwill in 1908.

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    Examples

    Barcelona is a melting pot of heritage and cutting edge technology, as much as a melting pot of Catalans and every nationality in the world. (AV Magazine)

    Season four of Fargo leans into the grim irony of America’s melting pot, telling a sprawling story of those who take the heat but aren’t welcome to share the feast. (Vanity Fair)

    For centuries, the United States has been commonly referred to as a melting pot of cultures, and the census now allows people of various races to be counted and to share in the allocation of resources based in part on the decennial national population survey. (The Journal Review)


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