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常用的英语格言和成语

2005-06-10 00:00  自考365.COM 【 】【我要纠错

  许多人在演讲、写作或谈话中,喜欢引用一些格言 (adage)、成语 (proverb) 或引语 (quotation) 等,使其内容更加活泼生动,有时还能收到「事半功倍」之效。我们也可以模仿。

  值得一提的是:成语或格言,一般而言,都是照原文独立使用。不过有时也可用在新的句子里;有时也可用肯定句或否定句;有时动词时态也可稍加改变;这要看使用时的情况而定。但无论如何,必须保持原文的完整性。在此,先以第一句为例,希望能收「举一反三」之效。

  (1) You can not teach an old dog new tricks ── 照字面意思是:你不能教老狗学新的把戏。也就是说:年老守旧的人,不易改变旧的作风,或接受新的事物和新思想。(Some people find it impossible to change their ways; or older people can not accept the changes or new ideas.) 虽然这句成语可以独立使用,但只要能维持原文的完整性,也可「动些手脚」。例如:

  Stop trying to teach an old dog new tricks; you are just wasting time.(别想教老狗新花样,你只是白花时间。)

  Are you trying to teach an old dog new tricks?

  He is impossible. Don‘t try to teach an old dog new tricks.(impossible 是指顽固成性、墨守成规的人。)

  I have tried teaching an old dog new tricks, but it doesn‘t work.(注:教狗不直接用 teach,要用 try to teach.)

  (2) All that glitters is not gold. ── 字面的意思是:所有能闪闪发光的东西,未必都是黄金。换言之,就是许多外表漂亮的物品,未必都是真正的宝贝。因为也许是金玉其外,败絮其中,或是中看不中用。(not every beautiful thing is valuable. 也有人说成:All is not gold that glitters. (glitter 是动词,意思是闪闪发光或光彩夺目。) 也可用在句子里:

  I told my students that all that glitters is not gold.

  还有一句相似的成语:

  Don‘t judge a book by its cover. (意思是:不能以书皮的美丑,去判断书的内容好坏。)

  (3) Pepole (或 Those) who live in glass houses should not throw stones (或 rocks) ── 照字面的意思是:住在玻璃屋里的人不可丢石头。也就是说,世间没有十全十美的人,每个人都有缺点,所以不要批评别人。即所谓「自身有短,勿批他人」。 (Nobody is perfect, so we should not criticize others.) 类似的,还有:

  Don‘t judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes. (除非你充分了解人家的立场,不可轻易作出评估。)

  (judge = criticize; have walked a mile in his shoes = have understood his situation well enough)

  另一句是:

  Judge not lest ye be judged. (来自圣经)(意思是:不要批评别人,免得将来也被别人批评。)(ye 是古字 = you;lest 是连接词,意思是唯恐或免得。)就是:

  If you criticize others, you probably will be criticized ,too.

  所以我们也可以说:

  He told his children“Judge not lest ye be judged.”

  (4) It is more blessed to give than to receive. ── 意思是:施比受更有福。也就是劝人多多行善,帮助他人。(blessed 是形容词,意思是幸福的,受尊敬的。)这句话不但可独立使用,也可用在不同的句子里:

  Especially during Christmas time, it‘s more blessed to give than to receive.(尤其在圣诞时更要助人)

  The longer I live the more I realize that it is more blessed to give than to receive.(我活得愈久,愈体会到施比受更有福。)

  (5) Every cloud has a silver lining. ── 照字面的意思是,每一个阴云中,都有一点银白的衬层。换句话就是,每一个不好的情况,也有好的一面。即所谓「黑暗中总有一线光明」。(Something good in every situation; or there is a positive side in everything.) (lining 是名词,意思是内衬或环衬。)所以劝人不可悲观,就可以说:

  Don‘t be so grumpy and pessimistic because every cloud has a silver lining. (不要这麽暴躁和悲观,事情也有好的一面。)

  (6) A rolling stone gathers no moss. ── 这是一句老俗语,但还是很流行。照字面的意思是,转动的石头,是长不出苔藓的。也就是说,常常在工作上变动的人,较难得到很好的资历,也难受到别人的信任。即所谓「滚石不生苔,转业不聚财」。(One who is always on the move or changes jobs often will not save or keep much money.) 所以我们可以劝年轻人不可见异思迁,到时一事无成:

  Don‘t change your job too frequently because a rolling stone gathers no moss.

  (7) You can lead a horse to water, but you can not make him drink. ── 意思是说,带马到河边容易,但逼马饮水倒很困难。换句话说,有好的建议,尽管可以提出,但不能逼人家做他不愿做的事。因为人家不肯照著你的意思做,还是没有办法啊! (You can encourage, but not force, someone to do something; or you may give someone an advice, but you can‘t force him /her to follow it.) 例如:

  I can not force her to marry him. After all you can lead a horse to water, but you can not make him drink.(我不能逼她嫁给他。毕竟带马到河边容易,逼马饮水倒困难。)

  (8) Don‘t put all your eggs in one basket. ── 照字面意思是:不要把全部鸡蛋放在一个篮子里。也就是劝人不可把一切希望寄托在一个计画上,或集中全部的财力干一件事。(don’t risk everything you have on a single plan or idea; don‘t forcus or invest too much in one specific area)(注:只用 basket,而不用 box 或 bag,也许因为从前农夫把鸡蛋拾起後,都放在篮子里。) 所以可以说:

  If you are spending all your money on that stock, you are putting all your eggs in one basket.(假如你把所有的钱投资在一种股票上,那就太冒险了。)

  I don‘t want to put all my eggs in one basket.(我不想冒著孤注一掷的风险。)

  (9) If you can not stand the heat, get (或 stay) out of the kitchen. 这句话,是过去美国总统 Harry Truman 的名言。意思是:如果你不能忍受炎热高温,你就应该离开厨房。也就是说,假如你缺乏精力与胆量,不能承受工作的压力,或是不能接受尖锐批评的勇气,那麽你就不要谋求或担任高层的职位。(这里的heat是指 stress 或pressure;kitchen 是指 office 或 position.)简单的说,就是:

  If you can not stand the stress, you should exit(或 leave)。

  I know it is a very tough job; if you can‘t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.(我知道那是一个艰难的工作,假如你无法承受压力,你就应该离职。)

  (10) There is more than one way to skin a cat. 照字面的意思是:要剥一只猫的皮,不是只有一种方法。换句话说,要想达到相同的目标,是有很多的办法 (different ways of reaching the same goal)。 所以可以说:

  Don‘t be so stubborn about this problem because there is more than one way to skin a cat. (对这问题不必太固执,因为有许多方法可以解决。)

  (注:只用 skin,不用 kill;只用 cat,不用 dog.)

  (11) Don‘t throw the baby out with the bath water. 照字面的意思是:不要把小孩连同洗澡水一起倒掉。也就是说,不要因为过度热忱,把好的精华,连同不好的糟粕部份一起扔掉。(Don’t throw out something valuable when getting rid of something useless; or don‘t throw away the good thing with the bad.) 所以可以说:

  When you attempt to design a new policy, don‘t throw the baby out with the bath water. (当你拟定新的政策时,不要把好的部份,连同不好的,一起扔掉。)

  (12) Too many cooks spoil the broth. (或 soup) 照字面意思就是:太多的厨师,反而把汤破坏了。也就是说,如果人太多,意见也多,反而不易做出决定。其实一个人作主就够了。(the more people work on a project, the worse it may turn out; or too many people or ideas may prevent from getting things done.) 所以可以说:

  I need to solve this problem myself; sometimes too many cooks spoil the broth. (我要自己解决这个问题,有时人多,意见多,反而无法决定。)

  (13) Where there is smoke, there is fire. 照字面的意思是:有烟的地方,就有火。也就是说:一件令人怀疑的事情,背後可能有些原因的存在。即所谓「无风不起浪」。 (suspicious things usually mean something is wrong; or there must be some reasons behind a suspicious event.) 所以可以说:

  I don‘t believe what he has said; where there is smoke, there is fire.(我不信他所说的,因为无风不起浪。)

  (14) When the cat is away, the mice will play. 这是一句非常流行的俗语。意思是:猫儿不在,老鼠玩得自在。也就是说,上司不在,部下就会轻松自在。所以 cat 是指任何有权威的人,mice 是指任何的部属。 (When the boss is absent, employees will usually do as they please.)(注意:cat 是用单数;mice是用多数,因为一般家里,也许只养一只猫,但老鼠可不止一只吧!通常老板也只有一位,员工倒不止一位吧。) (mice 的单数是 mouse) 我们也可以说:

  If teen-agers are alone at home after school, it may be a case of the mice playing when the cat is away.

  (青少年放学後,如果父母不在,单独在家,就会无忧无虑,大玩特玩。) (虽然这句成语句型,稍加改变,但仍不失原意。)

  (15) Strike while the iron is hot. 这就是咱们所谓的「打铁趁热」。换句话说,就是机会一旦来临,一定要抓住,才能得到最好的结果。(to act at the best time to get the best results; or to grab the good opportunity whenever it presents itself) (也有人说成:Strike the iron when it is hot) 所以我们可以对年轻人说:

  You should strike while the iron is hot. (你要打铁趁热,趁机行事。)

  If you want to get an advanced degree, you should strike while the iron is hot. (假如你想取得高学位,就应该打铁趁热。) (也就是马上进研究所「go to graduate school right away」)

  (16) Don‘t cut off your (one’s) nose to spite your (one‘s) face. 照字面的意思是:不要割破你的鼻子,而动怒了你的脸孔。也就是说,不要因为一时对他人动怒,反而害了自己。即所谓「拿自己出气。」(one tries to hurt others, but eventually hurt oneself; or to make a situation worse for oneself when angry with someone) 假如你想陷害别人,结果反而害了自己。就可以说:

  If you try to hurt someone, you may end up cutting off your nose to spite your face. 或者说:

  You may be cutting off your nose to spite your face if you ignore your boss all the time. (如果你老是不理睬你的老板,将来反而对你不利。)

  (17) Beggars can‘t be choosers. 照字面的意思是:做乞丐的,就不能对获得的东西有所选择。(chooser 是选择者) 换言之,要饭的,就不能挑肥拣瘦,人家给什麽,都得接受。(needy people have to take whatever they can get;or don’t criticize what you are given)(虽然 can‘t = can not, 但在这句成语里,老外爱用 can’t) 所以我们可以说:

  When asking for help(donation),remember beggars can not be chooser. (当请求别人帮忙或乐捐时,就没有挑选的余地。) (人家给多少,就得拿多少。)

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