English Idioms

by Francisco da Cunha e Silva Filho
(Rio de Jnaeir, Brazil)

I have a question to ask you about an English problem that actually troubles not only beginners but also long-time learners of English.

I'm referring to idiomatic English. From time to time, when I'm reading a complex essay, involving literary theory, criticism etc, I come across unusual expressions that are hard to grasp even when contextualized. The latest one I came across reads as follows:

"Only such irony, it would seem, can hope to give ideology the slip".

My question is this: in the context above, what does the expression "to give (something) the slip" mean?

I have looked it up good reference dictionaries and some of them (not all) present only the expression: "give somebody the slip" meaning "escape or get away from somebody who is following or chasing you".

The fact remains that in the quotation above the word "ideology" does not refer to somebody", but to "something, that is to say, "ideology".

I ask you : isn't there an expression to "give something the slip", which would of course change the entire meaning of the expression?

When we replace someone with something the meaning of the expression does not change. In this case "irony" is able to avoid or function outside the rules or expectations of "ideology".

In my opinion, this is one of the most intricate and puzzling grammar problems of English faced by foreigners, especially from Latin language background. Is there a way out to circumvent it?

I use to say to my friends who are, like me, enthusiasts of the English language that, if English were not so idiomatic, it would be a perfect language much more wide spread than it is today.

Don't you agree with me, Diana?

I'm not sure what my opinion is. I'm curious to know what Ola thinks about them though and the best way to learn them.

Please, when you have a little bit of your precious busy hours, help me with this grammar inquiry of mine.

Wishing you all the best luck to you and your family.

I remain sincerely yours,

Francisco da Cunha e Silva Filho

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