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VOA慢速英语[词汇典故]国际求救信号S.O.S

2015-05-21    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 Learning English program, Words and Their Stories.

Different people have different ways of saying things – their own special expressions. Each week we tell about some popular American expressions.

What you are listening to is a call for help. It is the Morse code distress signal S.O.S. For years, telegraph operators used Morse code to communicate across the country and around the world.

A skilled operator could send and receive 30 or 40 words a minute. In the language of Morse code, the letter "S" is three short dots and the letter "O" is three longer dashes. Put them together and you have S.O.S.

These sounds represent the international call for help because they are easy to recognize. Now, it is simply known as S.O.S.

But many people think that S.O.S. stands for "Save Our Ship" or "Save Our Souls." It does not. S.O.S. has come to mean that because of how we use it – when we need to be saved, as when a ship is sinking.

S.O.S. is an example of a new, if somewhat unofficial, word in the English language. We call it a backronym. A backronym is a combination of two words: backward and acronym.

An acronym is an abbreviation, a shorter version of a long word or expression. For example, the word "scuba" is an acronym. It stands for self-contained underwater breathing apparatus. But scuba is so much easier to say!

Backronyms, on the other hand, are built in the opposite way. They are made by creating a phrase or expression for an already existing word or acronym.

For example, the United States Department of Justice recently gave new meaning to its Amber Alert program. Now, Amber officially stands for "America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response." But the program was originally named for Amber Hagerman, a nine-year-old girl who was kidnapped and murdered in Texas in 1996.

Sometimes, backronyms come from outdated6 language. Writing "CC" at the end of a document once meant "carbon copy." Before computers and email, people would often make a carbon copy of a letter they sent on official business. These days we often send electronic copies of letters by email, not carbon copies. So, "CC" is now a backronym that means "courtesy copy"

Americans often use backronyms as jokes. For example, NASA, the U.S. space agency, named a treadmill on the International Space Station after the television personality Stephen Colbert. The agency created the name "Combined Operational Load-Bearing External Resistance Treadmill" to spell out the name COLBERT.

Who says scientists lack a sense of humor?

Do not worry if you have never heard of backronyms. Many Americans have not either. The earliest known use of "backronym" appeared in The Washington Post in 1983.

The newspaper asked readers to send in a new word. Editors picked Meredith G. Williams as the winner with her word, "backronym," spelled with or without a "k." She defined backronym, as the "same as an acronym, except that the words were chosen to fit the letters."

And that brings us to the end of this Words and Their Stories program. I'm Anna Matteo.

文本来源于普特论坛[report整理] SENEWS-2015-05-03


现在是美国之音慢速英语词汇掌故节目。

不同的人都有他们自己独特的词汇。每周我们都会讲述一些美国常用词汇。

今天你将听到的是摩斯电码求救信号S.O.S。世界各地的电报员们多年来一直使用莫斯电码交流。

一位熟练的电报员每分钟可以接发30到40个单词。在莫斯电码的语言中,字母S是三个短点,而字母O是三个长破折号。将它们连在一起就是SOS。

这些声音代表着国际求救信号,因为它们易于识别。现在,它被简称为S.O.S.

但是很多人认为,S.O.S.代表的是"Save Our Ship" or "Save Our Souls." 不是这样。S.O.S.代表这层意思是因为我们如何使用它,例如当一艘船正在下沉我们需要被救援时。

S.O.S.是英语语言中一种非正式的新单词的例子。我们称之为反向缩略语(backronym)。backronym是backward和acronym两个单词的组合。

Acronym是指首字母缩略词,是一个长的单词或短语的缩写。例如,scuba这个单词就是首字母缩略词,它代表的是self-contained underwater breathing apparatus。但是scuba说起来就容易得多。

反向缩略语则以之相反。它们是为已经存在的单词或缩略语创造一条短语。

例如,美国司法部最近赋予其安珀警报计划(Amber Alert program)新的意义。现在Amber正式代表“美国失踪案紧急广播响应。”但是该计划最初得名于1996年德克萨斯州被绑架谋杀的一位9岁小女孩Amber Hagerman.

有时候,反向缩略语来自于旧式语言。在文档末尾写上CC曾经意味的是复写副本。在有电脑和电子邮件之前,人们经常会在发送公函时制作一份复写副本。现在我们经常通过电子邮件发送电子副本,而不是复写副本。因此,CC现在是一个反向缩略词,代表的是抄送。

美国人经常利用反向缩略词来搞笑。例如,美国宇航局(简称为NASA)用电视名人斯蒂芬·科尔伯特(Stephen Colbert)来命名国际空间站上的跑步机。该机构创造了"Combined Operational Load-Bearing External Resistance Treadmill(组合式操作承重外部阻力跑步机)"这个名称来拼出COLBERT这个名字。

谁说科学家缺乏幽默感?

如果你没听过反向缩略词,别担心。很多美国人也没听过。我们现在知道的backronym这个单词的使用最早出现在1983年的华盛顿邮报上。

该报让读者提出一个新单词。编辑选择了梅雷迪思·G·威廉姆斯(Meredith G. Williams)为胜出者。她的单词是backronym,拼写时有没有k都行。她定义backronym为“和缩略语相同,但是所选择的单词是为了对应这个字母。”

本期词汇掌故节目就到此结束。我是安娜·马特奥(Anna Matteo)。



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