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有趣的口语

[日期:2013-06-07]   [字体: ]
I am all ears 洗耳恭听

One day, we hired a carpenter to repair our house. I dwelt on (详细讲述)all the details that needed repairing to him. then I asked him, "Are you clear? Can you remember all that?" "Yes!" the carpenter replied. "I am all ears!" I felt puzzled and did not know what he meant. Later my eldest son explained to me that he meant, "I am listening attentively!".

I am broke 我没钱了

One day when I was walking in the school corridor, Anna ran over to me and said, "I'm broke. May I ...?" I thought she might have fallen somewhere and was injured, so I hurriedly supported her with my hands and asked her, "Are you OK? Do you want me to send you to the clinic?" She felt a little puzzled, but then she said , "I'm ok. I'm broke. May I borrow some money?"

I assumed that she wanted to borrow money to go to hospital to see a doctor, so I responded quickly, "Let me help you to call an ambulance to the hospital."

Not until then did she realize that I had not understood what she meant. She told me that "I'm broke" meant, "I'm penniless." I suddenly saw the light too.

Have an affair with...与...有暧昧关系

The president was forced to resign, for his having an affair with a film star was like a time-bomb that would sooner or later ruin his fame.

It was reported that President Clinton had an affair with a girl called Monica.

五官与英语习语

eye

  The eyes are extremely precious to us. That is why we say“Mind your eye (当心)!”when we reminding someone to be careful.

  Not only human beings and animals have eyes, many things also have“eyes”- the eyes of a ship, the eye of a needle, the eye of a typhoon, and so on.

ear

  The ear is the organ of hearing. A piece of light music is easy on the ear. (悦耳动听). We are usually all ears (专心聆听) for bit news.

  When they think somebody is overhearing, English people use either of the two proverbs: Walls have ears (隔墙有耳) and Pitchers have ears (壶罐有耳). They also think that little pitchers have big ears(小孩子耳朵尖). Nice boys and girls respect other people. They will not secretly listen to others' private conversations.

nose

  The English phrase "face to face (面对面)" and its Chinese counterpart(对应)are exactly the same. But English people, to express the same idea, can say nose to nose instead. There is no such substitute in Chinese.

  The word nose appears in many idioms. Here are two which are quite similar to their Chinese equivalents: lead somebody by the nose (牵着某人的鼻子走) and turn up one's nose at somebody or something (对某人或某物嗤之一鼻).

lip

  We have two lips: the upper lip and the lower lip. If one's two lips are closed, one cannot speak. So it goes without saying that "don't open your lips (不要开口)" means "don't speak".

  His lips are sealed. Are his lips really stuck together by wax or glue? No, his lips are sealed when asked about something that he must keep secret. Sometimes a top secret is betrayed because it has escaped someone's lips (脱口而出). Then the incident may become a piece of news that is on everybody's lips (众口相传).

tongue

  We all know we cannot speak without the tongue. So the tongue is closely related to speech. To hold one's tongue (保持沉默) means "to keep silent". A person who has too much tongue (太多嘴) is disliked by all, for he is too talkative. Mother tongue is not the tongue of a mother: it is a person's native language.

  "Don't you have a moth below your nose (你鼻子底下不是有张嘴吗)?" The Chinese say so to blame a person who did not say what he should have said. But this not the right way to express the idea in English. English people would say, "You have a tongue in your head, haven't you?"

aim high 胸怀大志

Frank aimed high, but achieved little

Dialogue:

Sue: You seem to be worried about something these days

Bob: Yeah. I'm running around in circles (忙得团团转)without achieving anything.

Sue: Running in circles? Maybe you aim too high and you've taken more than you can chew.

Bob: Maybe. but I can't tolerate doing nothing.

Sue: You may take a break before buckling down on (开始认真地干)your targets.

go ape 神魂颠倒的,发疯

He went ape as soon as he learned that he got the first prize.

Dialogue

Mary: Jack went ape. What's happened?

Lora: He made a bomb (赚大钱)in his business.

Mary: How come? He told me that his business had almost landed on the rocks (没有前途,没指望了)only a couple of days ago! Besides, he doesn't seem to be cut out for (天生适合干...)doing business.

Lora: Fools may have a fortune. And this is why he went ape when he make bundles(发大财).

argue someone down 驳倒某人

He has a glib tongue. Few people can argue him down.他有三寸不烂之舌。几乎没人能把他驳倒。

Frank argued the manager down, though he could hardly be convinced by any other people.

Most people present at the meeting argued against the measures to be taken by the local government in dealing with traffic jams.

Jack was punished, but most of his colleagues argued fro his actions.

I am the one wearing pants in the house 我当家

One day we invited our American friends, a couple, to our home. We had a pleasant chat. During the chat, I asked them who was in control of their family's finance. My friend's wife answered, "I am the one wearing pants in the house." Both my wife and I were very confused. We were wondering why she told me that only she wore trousers in her house when I asked who was in charge of the money I their family. A few pointers (指点,暗示)from my friend made us suddenly see the light. It turned out that what she meant was "I am in charge."

It's up in the air 尚未确定

Once I met an old friend of mine at the school's celebration meeting. Hence it was quite natural that we had a talk.

"I am going to be transferred to another school," said my friend.

"When?" I asked.

"It's up in the air," she answered.

I felt rather confused and wondered why she said it was "up in the air".

Finding I looked puzzled, my friend knew that I did not understand what she meant. So she explained to me with the help of gestures.

Finally I got the point that "It's up in the air" meant "It is uncertain".

cost an arm and a leg 付出过高的代价

Eating in the restaurants in this street will cost you an arm and a leg.

Buying an apartment in Beijing will cost you an arm and a leg

Dialogue

Sandra: I say, Frank. Have you thought about changing the bed sets(床上用品)?

Frank: Well, I've actually been thinking of discarding them.

Sandra: And have you thought about where we should go for the new sets?

Frank: Well, I need to shop around a bit before I can decide.

Sandra: How about the Johns' in the Fifth Street?

Frank: The Johns'? They will cost you an arm and a leg. You have to pay through the nose(为买...付出过高的代价;被敲竹杠), you know?

Sandra: But their quality is first rate.

Frank: I know. And their price is first rate, too.

keep someone at arm's length与某人保持距离

She said that she couldn't put her finger on why everyone in the company should keep her at arm's length. 她说他搞不清楚为何公司里的人都不愿已接近他。

If you've kept her at arm's length, she wouldn't be able to et hold of your weakness and take advantage of you.

touch someone on the raw.触及某人的痛处

The question asked by the Japanese lady seemed to have touched the president on the raw, and it had almost driven him on the wall.

那位日本妇女向总统提出个问题,这一问就好像触及了总统的痛处,并把他逼上了绝境。

When with friends, people always try to avoid the topics that would possibly touch them on the raw.

Your acid comment made him lose face and the question you raised had touched him on the raw.

You should avoid offending him by touching him on the raw.

Childlike and childish 天真和幼稚

I had been to America for only a few years, as I did not understand the actual meanings of the two words "childlike" and "childish". A minor misunderstanding was the result, and I nearly offended my supervising professor.

One day I had a chat with some professors and postgraduates in the office. the subject came to the character of my supervisor. She was a senior professor who was always very cheerful and enthusiastic, interesting and full of childlike innocence. I said without thinking, "She is childish." Actually what I meant to say is, "She is childlike."

Not long after that, my professor was told that I had said she was childish. She was a little unhappy to hear that, and asked me, "Did you say that I am childish?" I felt at once that something bad would happen to me. I hurriedly explained what I meant, and she forgave my inappropriately using the word.

"Childlike" and "Childish" are different, in that the former is a commendatory (褒义的)term, which praises one who is innocent and has characteristics of a child, while the latter a derogatory (贬义的)term, which describes an adult behaving like a child.

Considerable and considerate 相当大的与考虑周到的

Once I went on an outing with one of my American friends together. On the way he looked after me very carefully. I was very grateful to him in my heart. Besides saying "thank you", I also added, "You're so considerable." In fact I meant to praise him for being thoughtful. However, as soon as I uttered that, my friend, previously wearing a bright facial expression, then quickly took on a ghastly (难看的,可怕的)look. I immediately perceived something wrong, but I did not know where my mistake laid and I felt very embarrassed.

Fortunately, my friend was really good at understanding others. He hesitated and said, "I think you wanted to say I'm considerate." I hastened to ask him about the differences between the two words.

It turns out that "considerable" means" rather large in size, etc. or of noticeable importance", (and my friend happened to be an extremely burly (大块头的)man, which he was sensitive to) while "considerate" was what I wanted to express.

It is really true that an error in the breadth of a single hair can lead you a thousand li astray(失之毫厘,差之千里)!

Dead end 死胡同

When I first caught sight of the sign "Dead End", I was really startled. Literally it means the road to death. I wondered whether it was " a dragon's pool and a tiger's den (龙潭虎穴)-- a danger spot", or mines or bombs were laid there and once you made your entrance to it you were sure to die. Therefore a shocking sign was set up, warning people against getting into the forbidden area without authorization. Later I got to know that the sign "Dead End" tells people that the road is closed at one end, and therefore does not lead anywhere.

"Black" Meat or dark meat "黑"肉还是鸡腿肉

This story happened when I just came to America. One day I went to the fried-chicken fast-food restaurant attached to the school for meal. A waiter asked me, "What kind of meat would you like?" At that time it occurred to me that I had learned in my college English class that "white meat" refers to chicken breast while "dark meat" means chicken leg. However, when I spoke, it went like, "Black meat, please." Suddenly I found the waiter looking angry (for he happened to be a black). Then I realized that I had said something wrong. After I explained time and again that I just came to America and knew very little about slang, he became happy again.

turn one's back on/upon...背弃...,抛弃...;对...不闻不问

We requested that he look into the matter, but he just seemed to turn his back on our request.

Did she really turn her back on his proposal?她真的拒绝了他的求婚?

Dialogue:

Nancy: You look upset these days. What's troubling you?

Selma: I've requested to take a leave from work so that I can spend our annual holiday in Spain with my family. But our boss turned it down by saying that the company is short of hands.

Nancy: Did you explain your situation and ask him again?

Selma: Yes, I did. But he just turned his back on my request.

Nancy: Maybe you can change your plan and put it off till later.

by the back door 通过后门;用不正当的途径

It is said that he got many of the spare parts into China by the back door.据说他把很多备件非法偷运到中国境内。

Most government officials knew pretty well that this rubbish came into the country by the back door, but they did not know who exactly had given the smugglers the GREen light.

The manager knew that the two new employees came in by the back door, but he didn't know exactly who were at the back. 总经理知道那两个人是通过后门进来的,但是他不清楚到底谁是他们的后台。

bring home the bacon 养家糊口;成功,取胜

In every country and regardless of their social systems, there must be someone in the house who will have to bring home the bacon.

Dialogue:

Frank: I'm feeling under the weather(感到身体不舒服). I'm not in the mood for doing anything today.

John: Play hooky(逃学,开小差). I won't spill the beans(泄密).

Frank: I know, but I can't. I'm swamped with work(有一大堆工作得做). My job is no picnic(不是轻松的事), you know.

John: Well, hang in there. In the long run, you'll be sitting pretty(处于有利的地位;过上优裕的生活).

Frank: I hope so. But I have to work hard and bring home the bacon.

hold the bag背黑锅

Although the four of them robbed the bank with joined efforts, it was Joe who had been left holding the bag.

Dialogue:

Martha: Do you know what's happened to Frank?

Nancy: Not an inkling. What's happened?

Martha: He was caught stealing a file from a company.

Nancy: Sorry to hear that. He should have mended his steps(注意自己的言行).

Martha: But the job was engineered by someone else.

Nancy: Did that someone else stand up?

Martha: Nobody likes to face the music(面对惩罚), of course.

Nancy: So it was Frank who was left holding the bag?

Martha: yeah.

fall asleep at the switch 玩忽职守

Joe was dismissed by the boss for falling asleep at the switch.

Dialogue

Mark: The Boss is furious. There must be something that has enraged him.

Lucy: Yeah. Someone fell asleep at the switch and the warehouse has been broken into last night.

Mark: Who was on duty last night? He must be punished.

Lucy: It was Joe. He is responsible for the lost property.

Mark: He will get the bag(被解雇), I suppose

Lucy: Not really. The boss only asked him to mend his steps (注意自己的行为)and told him that he wouldn't be lucky next time.

Mark: It's kind of the boss to do so. Joe should feel guilty.

be in the bag 已到手的,十拿九稳的

The General Manager was excited because he knew he had already had several major contracts in the bag.

The boss still had the jitters(忐忑不安), though he knew that their success was already in the bag.

A good harvest is already in the bag, though the farmers still have a share of worries.

Don't be fooled by their babbling. Can't you see that they've had everything in the bag? 别听他们的胡说八道了,难道你还看不出来他们已经到处做了手脚?

rise to a (the) bait.中圈套,上钩

Your trick might work ten years ago. But nowadays few are prone to rise to a bait as easily as you think.你的花招在十年前也许管用,但当今人们绝不像你所想象的会轻易上钩的。

Look! A fish is rising to the bait.

Be patient! he is rising to the bait.

ball up...把...搞得一团糟,一塌糊涂

Joe had balled up the business, but it was Jack who was blamed for the mess.

Dialogue:

Nancy: John dismissed Joe last week.

Selma: What for? Not for his falling asleep at the switch again, I suppose.

Nancy: No. He balled up John's business by disclosing his company's secret.

Selma: He should have mended his steps.

Nancy: Can the leopard change his spots?

Selma: No. And he will find it very hard to find another job.

Nancy: That serves him right.

more bark than bite 说得多,做得少

I thought his lecture would be very informative, but to my disappointment, there was more bark than bite throughout the lecture: there was nothing practically important.

The boss threatened Joe by saying that he would kick him out of the company, but Joe was certain that there was more bark than bite in his remark.

There is generally more bark than bite in most of modern publications, either in literally or in academic writings.

You don't have to take off your gloves to a girl like Jenny: there's more bark than bite in what she says.对像杰妮这样的女孩你没有必要如此不依不饶的。她说起话来只不过是嘴厉害了点儿,可他很少伤害人。

Cave in 屈服,投降

At our company Christmas party, a lot of wine, even vodka, was available. I knew Lao Zhang and Rob were heavy drinkers, so I egged them on (怂恿某人做某事)in a competition for drinking vodka. I was the judge. They readily (欣然地)agreed. After a few drinks, their faces were all very red. Rob then refused to drink more and said, "I cave in." I did not understand, so I gain a farfetched (牵强的,不着边际的)interpretation of the work "cave" and considered it was equivalent to "trap" . "No. NO, No cave," I said, "It's a fair play." Rob's face looked even redder and hastened to add: " I give up. Lao Zhang wins".

It turns out that "cave in" has the meaning as "give up or give in".

Change my dress 调离我的职位

I worked in a big, well-known American firm more than two decades ago. My boss Caroline was a young and beautiful American girl. A promotion or raise of her subordinates (下属)by her depended solely on the number or value of presents that they gave her. As a result, the practice of giving dinners or sending gifts was in a vogue (盛行的,流行的)for a while. Later, here superior (上级,长官)heard of it and called all the staff of our section together for a conference to transfer Caroline from her post. In the conference, Caroline kept asking:

"Why do you want to change my dress?"

Hearing her saying" change my dress", I felt rather confused, wondering why the superior wanted to change her dress. Later, I understood that "change a dress" has the meaning of "transfer from a post". I narrowly escaped being made myself the laughing-stock (笑柄)of all.

Blow your own horn 自吹自擂

Xiao Zhang just graduated from university and was hunting for a job (寻找工作). One day he was driving a car to go on an outing with several friends. They were caught in a traffic jam downtown, so they had to wait patiently in their car. They began to talk one after another about their experiences in looking for a job and exchange ideas on how to write a curriculum vitae.(简历)

One of his friends patted Xiao Zhang on the shoulder and said, "You should blow your own horn!"

As soon as that friend finished speaking, a burst of sounds of horn (阵阵喇叭声) was heard. His friend quickly stopped him, "Hey, what will be you doing? Sounding your horn is forbidden here, otherwise fines will be imposed(施加;加于某人...). Did you see the signboard 'Don't horn!' over there?"

Xiao Zhang felt wronged(被冤枉的;受委屈的) and said, "Didn't you ask me to blow the horn? I thought you wanted me to sound the horn to hurry the unmoving cars in front."

Later Xiao Zhang figured out (搞清楚,弄明白)that "blow your horn" mean "publicize or boast (吹嘘,自夸)one's abilities or achievements. There his friend meant that Xiao Zhang should not be modes but show off his strong points (长处,优势)and merits(优点) when writing his resume.
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