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[翻译字幕]Words and Their Stories: It Will Not Wash

更新时间:2013/3/17 10:37:52 来源:本站原创 作者:佚名

词汇典故:这行不通

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

这里是美国之音慢速英语词汇典故节目,我是苏珊·克拉克(Susan Clark)。

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,就是通过提高价格为公司多赚钱。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.

如果老板主喜欢这个主意,史密斯可能得到加薪,甚至他可能在公司得到一个更好的职位。

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."

公司业务一直不瘟不火。因此,老板考虑了一下史密斯的这个主意。但随后她摇了摇头。“很抱歉,史密斯,”老板说,“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?"

现在,这个短语的意思应该是指“这会弄不干净。”然而史密斯的主意与弄干净某物没有任何关系。那么,他的老板为什么说:“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.

大多数词汇专家一致认为,“it will not wash”意思是这行不通。埃里克·帕特里奇(Eric Partridge)写道,这种说法可能起源于19世纪的英国。夏洛蒂·勃朗特(Charlotte Bronte)1849年发表的故事中用到了这种说法。她写道,“That wiln’t wash,小姐。” 勃朗特貌似是说,用于染这块布的染料不太好,颜色无法附着于布料。

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,这个短语意味着一种不可靠的状态。它主要用于形容一种想法,但有时也用于形容一个人。

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.

一位评论家曾经这么形容诗人罗伯特·布朗宁(Robert Browning),“He won’t wash.”这位评论家并不是说这位诗人不讲卫生。他说的是,布朗宁的诗不能传承下去。

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,我们知道评论家的这个判断是错误的。布朗宁仍被认为是一个大诗人。但很少有人记得这位评论家。

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."

幸运的是这位年轻雇员史密斯的老板希望他在公司更加出色。所以,老板认认真真地(talked turkey)对他说。她说,“你的想法或许对我们的买家不公平。换个赚钱的想法。”

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,“to talk turkey”意味着愉快交谈。谷仓里的火鸡被认为在彼此愉快交谈。近年来,这句话的意思已经开始转变为“认真谈某些重要的事情”。

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

词汇专家查尔斯·芬克(Charles Funk)讲述了他理解的这个短语词义发生变化的过程。

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,两名男子一起去打火鸡。一个是白人,另一个是印第安人。这位白人开始陈述为什么他要拿走所有火鸡的原因。但这位印第安人打断了他。他对白人男子说,"Now, I talk turkey to you."(注1)

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.

史密斯先生在老板认真和他交谈后想出了一个更好的主意。他被加薪了。所以,如果你的主意“行不通”,请尝试认真自问想起一个更好的主意。

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。

(MUSIC)

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

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