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[词汇典故]描述没什么价值的东西

2014-04-21    来源:普特英语听力    【      美国外教 在线口语培训
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Now, the VOA Special English program Words and Their Stories.

In the early days of human history, people survived by hunting wild animals or gathering wild grains and plants for food. Then, some people learned to grow crops and raise animals for food. They were the first farmers.

Since the 16th century, the word “farm” has meant agricultural land. But a much older meaning of the word “farm” is linked to economics. The word “farm” comes from the Latin word “firma,” which means an unchanging payment.

Experts say the earliest meaning of the English word “farm” was a yearly payment made as a tax or rent.

Farmers in early England did not own their land -- they paid every year to use agricultural lands.

In England, farmers used hawthorn trees along the edges of property. They called this row of hawthorns a “hedge.”

Hedging fields was how careful farmers marked and protected them.

Soon, people began to use the word “hedging” to describe steps that could be taken to protect against financial loss.

Hedging is common among gamblers who make large bets. A gambler bets a lot of money on one team. But, to be on the safe side, he also places a smaller bet on the other team to reduce a possible loss.

You might say that someone is “hedging his bet” when he invests in several different kinds of businesses. One business may fail, but likely not all.

Farmers know that it is necessary to “make hay while the sun shines.”

Hay has to be cut and gathered when it is dry. So a wise farmer never postpones gathering his hay when the sun is shining -- rain may soon appear.

A wise person copies the farmer. He works when conditions are right.

A new mother, for example, quickly learns to try to sleep when her baby is quiet -- even in the middle of the day. If the mother delays, she may lose her chance to sleep. So, the mother learns to “make hay while the sun shines.”

Beans are a popular farm crop. But beans are used to describe something of very little value in the expression “not worth a hill of beans.” The expression is often used today. You could say, for example, that a bad idea “is not worth a hill of beans.”

Language expert Charles Earle Funk said the expression was first used almost 700 years ago. He said Robert of Gloucester described a message from the King of Germany to King John of England as “altogether not worth a bean.”

文本来源于普特论坛[report整理] SENEWS-2013-11-17


这里是美国之音慢速英词汇掌故节目。

在人类历史早期,人们依靠捕食野生动物,或者采集野果或野生植物生存下来。后来,一些人学会种植作物和养殖动物为食。他们就是最早的农民。

自16世纪开始,farm这个词的意思是农田。但是farm这个词更早的意思与经济有关。farm这个词来自拉丁语firma,意思是固定费用。

专家称,farm这个词最早的意思是作为租金或税收的年费。

英格兰早期的农民没有自己的土地。他们使用土地需要每年缴纳费用。

在英格兰,农民们沿着土地边缘种植一排山楂树,并称其为篱笆。

将农田用篱笆围起来表明了农民如何认真地标记或保护自己的土地。

很快,人们开始用Hedging这个词来描述为防止经济损失所采取的措施。

在巨额押注的赌徒中,两面下注非常普遍。赌徒在一队身上押了大注,但为防万一,还会在另一队身上押上稍小的注码以减少可能的损失。

如果某人在多门不同类型的生意上分别投资,你可能会说他是在双面投机(hedging his bet)。生意可能会亏损,但不可能全部都亏损。

农民们都知道,把握时机(make hay while the sun shines)是非常必要的。

干草必须在干燥的时候收割。所以,聪明的农民从来不会在阳光正好时拖延收集干草的时间,因为可能很快就会下雨。

聪明人会效仿农民,在条件合适时抓紧行事。

例如,一个新生儿妈妈很快学会在孩子安静下来时尽量睡觉,即使是在大中午。如果耽误时间,她可能就会丧失睡觉的机会。因此,这个妈妈学会了把握时机。

豆类是一种常见的农作物。但是beans在not worth a hill of beans这个短语中常用于描述没什么价值的东西。这个短语在今天还经常用到。例如你可以说,那个烂主意一文不值(not worth a hill of beans)。

语言专家查尔斯·芬克( Charles Earle Funk)表示,这个短语最早见于700多年前。格洛斯特市的罗伯特称德国国王带给英国约翰王的消息完全一文不值。



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