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VOA慢速新闻:Words and Their Stories: It Will Not Wash

发布时间:2010-11-05 16:31  浏览:8568 次  已上传35个录音

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资料原文

Go to 51voa.com for more...
I'm Susan Clark
with the Special English program
WORDS AND THEIR STORIES.
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.
If his employer liked the idea,
Smith might be given more pay.
Perhaps he might even
get a better job with the company.
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."
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?"
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
Word expert Charles Funk tells
how he believes
this change took place.
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."
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.
(MUSIC)
This WORDS AND THEIR STORIES program
was written by Jeri Watson.
I'm Susan Clark.



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