In standard dialects of English we can break things which are hard or brittle, such as a window, a bone, a tooth, a stick, a (crisp, not soggy) piece of celery, a cookie, a cracker.
It is also allowed by the lexicon of English for us to speak of breaking some things which are tensile, such as rope, a string, a rubber band, or a bungee cord.
The English lexicon has a number of figures of speech in which we can “break” things which are neither brittle nor tensile. So, for example, each of the following are good English:
- She broke my heart.
- They broke the news.
- The horse broke into a gallop.
- He broke the record at the Olympics.
- He’s trying to break his nicotine addiction.
- He broke wind.
- He finally broke the silence.
- That was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
- He broke his word.
- We broke camp on Saturday morning.
- He broke the law.
- He broke his fast.
The English lexicon does not allow us to break just anything we can think of. So, for instance, “break” is inappropriate to use in the following sentences:
- I broke the tree.
- I broke the grass.
- I broke the book.
- I broke life.
- I broke school.
- I broke the apple.
- I broke my pants.
- I broke the day.
- I broke liberty.
In the church my wife and I attend we have communion (the Lord’s Supper) on the first Sunday of the month. This last Sunday, as the officiating minister spoke of “breaking bread,” I wondered if the lexicon of the majority of native speakers of English permits them to say and allows them to understand
Today we will break bread.
Is “break bread” limited to the lexicon of church (Bible) English? Or do you think it is an expression understood by most English speakers today, regardless of whether they are familiar with church English? If it is not, what are the implications for a translation team that wishes their translation to communicate accurately and clearly to the most number of English speakers?