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VOA慢速英语[词汇典故]事物的本质

2016-03-10    来源:普特英语听力    【      美国外教 在线口语培训
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Hello and welcome to the VOA Learning English program Words and Their Stories.

 
This is a program about the history of words and how we use them in conversation. Today we talk about the noun nitty-gritty.
 
Nitty-gritty is one of many rhyming compounds in the English language.
 
As with many rhyming compounds, nitty-gritty is informal. It is often used in casual conversation. It is a useful word that serves many purposes. When using it in a sentence, we often say “to get down to the nitty-gritty.”
 
One meaning of nitty-gritty is the most important part or basic truth of any situation or subject. But, if you are not a fan of rhyming compounds or if you need to use a more formal word, you can use many other English expressions.                 
For example, nitty-gritty could be the heart and soul of a matter, the gist of a conversation or the essence of an argument. If you want to focus on only the most important part of a problem, you want to focus on the crux or core.
 
The nitty-gritty can also mean the bottom line or reality of a situation, as in this example:
 
The ideas behind planning a city are so interesting. I could talk about it all day!
 
I agree. But the city council needs to get down to the nitty-gritty. Washington, D.C. needs more apartments close to the Metro for young professionals moving here.
 
The nitty-gritty does not have to be part of a problem. Any matter or situation can have nitty-gritty.
 
The nitty-gritty can also mean the practical details that need to be finished. Used in this way, you can also say the nuts-and-bolts of a task or situation.
 
Here is another example.
 
We have talked about our vacation plans all week. Enough talk!
 
You’re right. Now, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of booking flights and hotel rooms.
 
Nitty-gritty can also be used as an adjective. You can say someone is good at dealing with the nitty-gritty details of a problem.
 
In his song, “Jungle Gym,” Jack Johnson sings about New York City being nitty-gritty. This song is from the 2006 movie Curious George.
 
"It's a jungle gym.The city's nitty gritty but it's so much fun.We can take a ride go tell everyone.It's a jungle gym."
 
As with many words, the origin of nitty-gritty is unclear. Even though it is commonly used, some word experts have debated about the political correctness of “nitty-gritty.”
 
Some word historians say that nitty-gritty refers to the debris – or remains -- left on the floor of slave ships. This reference may make the word offensive to some people.
 
However, there is no written proof that nitty-gritty originated on the floors of slave ships. Many word historians say that the claim is an example of a mythical word origin trying to become fact.
 
British word experts have also researched the origins of “nitty gritty.” Word historians on the British website The Phrase Finder say that nitty-gritty first appeared in 1937 as a musical composition. The song ‘That Nitty Gritty Dance’ was copyrighted by Arthur Harrington Gibbs.
 
Merriam-Webster Dictionary says nitty-gritty was first used in 1956. The Online Etymology dictionary claims it was first used in the early 1960s, mainly by black jazz musicians.
 
But no one really knows for sure. What we do know is that these dates place the origin of the word long after slave ships and slavery in America.
 
We also know singer Shirley Ellis recorded “The Nitty Gritty” in 1963. It was a popular song and dance.
 
Let’s listen to Shirley and get  down the real nitty-gritty.
 
I’m Anna Matteo.

大家好,欢迎收听美国之音慢速英语词汇典故节目。
 
这是一个介绍单词历史和如何运用到对话中节目。今天我们要介绍的单词是nitty-gritty这个名词。
 
Nitty-gritty是英语中众多叠韵词之一。
 
和很多叠韵词一样,nitty-gritty这个词是非正式的。它经常用于随意的谈话之中。这个词可以表达很多种意图,非常有用。在句子里,我们通常说“ to get down to the nitty-gritty”。
 
“Nitty-gritty”的意思之一就是事物中最基本或者最重要的部分。但是,如果你不热衷于使用叠韵词或者需要用更加正式的词语,你可以用其他的方式来表达。
 
比如,“nitty-gritty”可以是一件事的心脏和灵魂,一次谈话的主旨大意或者一次争端的中心论点。如果你只想专注于一个问题最重要的部分,那么你就可以用“crux”或者“core”这两个词。
 
“Nitty-gritty”这个词还可以表示底线或者一件事的真相,比如这个例子:
 
规划一座城市的点子太有趣了。我能说上一整天!
 
我同意。不过市参议会需要认真对待问题的本质。华盛顿特区需要更多靠近地铁的公寓,这样才能吸引年轻专业人士搬到那里去。
 
“Nitty-gritty”不需要成为问题的一部分。任何事情或情况都拥有其“本质”
 
“Nitty-gritty”还有一个意思是需要完成的实际细节。 作这个意思的时候,你还可以用一个任务或者一件事情的“nuts-and-bolts”(基本组成部分)。
 
这里是另外一个例子。
 
我们一整个礼拜都在谈论我们的度假计划。谈够了吧!
 
你说得对。现在我们应该着手解决订机票和酒店房间这些细节问题了。
 
“Nitty-gritty”还可以作形容词用。你可以说某人擅长解决一个问题的具体细节。
 
在杰克·约翰逊的《攀登架》这首歌里,纽约市变成了“Nitty-gritty”的样子。这首歌来自2006年的电影《好奇的乔治》。
 
(歌词部分...)
 
和许多单词一样,“nitty-gritty”这个词的起源并不清晰。虽然它被广泛使用,但是一些单词专家依然争论这个词的政治正确性。
 
一些单词历史学家说这个词指的是贩奴船上的碎片。这样的出处分析可能会冒犯一些人。
 
但是,没有任何书面材料能够证明这个词来源于贩奴船上的碎片。很多单词历史学家说这不过是一个虚构的单词,起源想要变成事实的例子。
 
英国单词学家也探究过这个词的起源。他们在英国网站“The Phrase Finder”上说,这个词在1937年第一次出现在一个音乐作品之中。《That Nitty Gritty Dance》这首歌的版权归亚瑟·哈灵顿·吉布斯所有。
 
《韦氏大词典》说这个词第一使用于1956年。《网络词源词典》则称这个词第一次出现在20世纪60年代早期,主要由黑人爵士音乐家使用。
 
但是没人确切知道哪一个是真的。我们能够确定的是,这些词语开始使用的时间点,要远远晚于贩奴船和美国的奴隶制。
 
我们也知道雪莉·埃利斯在1963年录过《The Nitty Gritty》这首歌。当时这首歌和这支舞都很流行。
 
让我们来欣赏雪莉的歌曲,认真对待事情本质吧。
 
我是安娜·马提欧。 


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