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VOA词汇掌故:It Will Not Wash 行不通;不起作用

andyg 于2018-04-13发布 l 已有人浏览
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本期美国之音词汇掌故要学习的习惯用语有是it will not wash 这事儿行不通。
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20041113 it will not washjpg.jpg
It Will Not Wash

行不通;不起作用

I'm Susan Clark with the Special English program WORDS AND THEIR STORIES.

你正在收听的是美国之音慢速英语《词汇掌故》节目。我是苏珊·克拉克。

Young Mister Smith had an idea for his employer. It was an idea for saving money for the company by increasing prices. At the same time, Smith suggested that the company sell goods of less value.

年轻的史密斯先生为老板出了个主意。这个主意就是通过提高价格为公司赚更多钱。同时,史密斯建议公司应该销售一些低价值的产品。

If his employer liked the idea, Smith might be given more pay. Perhaps he might even get a better job with the company.

如果他的老板喜欢这个主意,史密斯可能会得到加薪。甚至,他可能在公司得到一份更好的工作。

Business had been very slow. So Mister Smith's employer thought a few minutes about the idea. But then she shook her head. "I am sorry, Smith," his employer said. "It just will not wash."

公司业务一直不是很好。因此老板对史密斯的主意考虑了几分钟。但是他摇了摇头,说:“抱歉,史密斯。It just will not wash。”

Now, the meaning of these English words should be, "It will not get clean." Yet Smith's idea did not have anything to do with making something clean. So why did his employer say, "It will not wash?"

从字面意思看,这句英语的意思应该是:它弄不干净。可史密斯搞不懂他的主意和弄干净什么东西并没有关系。那他的老板为什么会说“It will not wash?”

Most word experts agree that "it will not wash" means it will not work. Eric Partridge wrote that the saying probably developed in Britain in the eighteen hundreds. Charlotte Bronte used it in a story published in eighteen forty-nine. She wrote, "That wiln't wash, miss." Mizz Bronte seems to have meant that the dyes used to color a piece of clothing were not good. The colors could not be depended on to stay in the material.

大多数语言专家认为“it will not wash”的意思是这事儿行不通。英国语言学家艾瑞克·帕特里奇写道:这个说法可能源于19世纪的英国。夏洛特·勃朗特在她1849年发表的小说中用过这个句子。 她写道,“That wiln't wash,小姐。”貌似勃朗特小姐的意思是用于染这块布的染料不太好。颜色不能被染到布料上。

In nineteenth century England, the expression came to mean an undependable statement. It was used mainly to describe an idea. But sometimes it was used about a person.

在19世纪的英国,它所表达的意思是不可靠,行不通。它主要被用来描述一个主意,但有时也被用来形容一个人。

A critic once said of the poet Robert Browning, "He won't wash." The critic did not mean that the poet was not a clean person. He meant that Browning's poems could not be depended on to last.

评论家曾用"He won't wash."这样的话评价过诗人罗伯特·布朗宁。评论家并不是说诗人是不干净的人。他的意思是布朗宁的诗不能延续下去。

Today, we know that judgment was wrong. Robert Browning still is considered a major poet. But very few people remember the man who said Browning would not wash.

今天,我们知道这个判断是错误的。罗伯特·布朗宁仍被认为是一个伟大的诗人。但很少有人记得说过他的诗不能传承下去的那个评论家。

Happily for the young employee Smith, his employer wanted him to do well in the company. So the employer "talked turkey" to him. She said, "Your idea would be unfair to our buyers. Think of another way to save money."

对年轻的史密斯来说是幸运的,他的老板希望他在公司能做得更好。因此认真地对他说:“你的想法对我们买家不公平,还是想别的办法来赚钱吧。”

A century ago, to talk turkey meant to talk pleasantly. Turkeys in the barnyard were thought to be speaking pleasantly to one another. In recent years, the saying has come to mean an attempt to teach something important.

一个世纪前,谈论火鸡意味着愉快地交谈。谷仓里的火鸡被认为是彼此愉快交谈。近年来,这句话已经意味着认真交谈某件重要的事情。

Word expert Charles Funk tells how he believes this change took place.

词汇专家查尔斯·芬克讲述了他认为发生这种演变的过程。

He says two men were shooting turkeys together. One of them was a white man. The other was an American Indian. The white man began stating reasons why he should get all the turkeys for himself. But the American Indian stopped him. He told the white man, "Now, I talk turkey to you."

他说,两人一起射击火鸡,其中一个是白种人,另一个是印第安人。白种人开始说他为何应该得到所有的火鸡。但是美国印第安人拦住了他。他告诉白种人,“现在,我们就打开天窗说亮话吧。”

Mister Smith thought of a better idea after his employer talked turkey to him. He was given an increase in pay. So if your idea "will not wash," try "talking turkey" to yourself and come up with a better idea.

史密斯和老板认真交谈后,他想到了一个更好的主意。他的工资增加了。所以如果你的想法“行不通”,那么认真地问问自己,然后想出一个更好的主意。

This WORDS AND THEIR STORIES program was written by Jeri Watson. I'm Susan Clark.

你上面收听到的是美国之音慢速英语《词汇掌故》节目。我是苏珊·克拉克。

 

注1:相传在北美殖民时期,一个白人和一个印第安人去打猎,事先说好了平分打到的猎物。一天下他们共猎得2只火鸡和3只老鸦。白人把老鸦给了印第安人,把火鸡全留给了自己。印第安人反对这样分配,白人就说You have three birds, I have only two.(你分3只鸟,我只拿了2只。)印第安人回答Stop talking birds. Talk turkey.(别谈什幺鸟了,还是谈火鸡吧。)因为两个人都明白,他们想要得猎物是火鸡。

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