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VOA慢速英语:词汇掌故:好奇害死猫

所属教程:Words And Their Stories

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2018年09月18日

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'Curiosity Killed the Cat'

词汇掌故:好奇害死猫

Now, the VOA Learning English program Words and Their Stories.

现在是美国之音慢速英语词汇掌故节目。

Our weekly program is about the words, expressions and idioms we use in American English.

我们每周播出的这个节目是关于美式英语中用到的一些单词、表达和习惯用语。

In any language, idioms can be difficult. Sometimes, you need to know a lot of ‘cultural backstory' -- the meaning behind the words -- to understand these sayings. And using them the right way can cause problems for English learners.

在任何语言中,习惯用语都很难。有时候,你得了解很多文化背景,也就是词语背后的含义才能理解这些说法。要用对它们是英语学习者的一道难题。

But do not worry. Even people who grew up in the United States speaking English have problems with some of these idioms.

但是不要担心,即使是在美国长大的英语人士遇到其中一些习惯用语时也搞不懂。

On another Words and Their Stories, we told how the idiom "blood is thicker than water" is misunderstood. This week we talk about another expression Americans usually get wrong.

在另一期词汇掌故节目中,我们讲述了“血浓于水”这句习语是如何被误解的。本周我们来谈一谈美国人通常会用错的另一种表达。

That expression is: Curiosity killed the cat.

这句表达就是好奇害死猫。

I know. It does not sound very nice. But trust me. It's not that bad.

我知道,这句话听起来不太好,但是相信我,它也没那么糟糕。

First, let's start with the word "curious."

首先我们来讲一讲好奇这个词。

The word curious means to want to know things you don't know; to investigate. So to be curious is not a bad thing. Adults and teachers often praise children with curious minds for asking questions -- sometimes a lot of questions!

好奇是指想要知道你不知道的东西,去弄清楚。所以好奇并不是什么坏事。大人和老师经常夸奖好奇提问的孩子,有时候他们会提出很多问题。

Curious people can be very interesting. They want to know more about the world around them. Another way of saying curious is inquisitive. The verb "inquire" means to ask one or more questions.

好奇的人可能会很有趣。他们希望更多了解周围的世界。另一种表述好奇的方式是inquisitive。动词inquire意思是指提出一个或多个问题。

However, prying is a form of curiosity but not in a good way. Someone who is said to be prying into other people's business wants to know about things that do not concern them. And often prying is an effort to find out secrets by looking for them in improper ways.

然而,prying(打探)是一种不正常的好奇。据说有些人向别人打探,想要知道一些跟他们无关的事情。通常打探是指通过不正当方式探寻秘密。

We often use it this way. We say to someone, "Look, I don't mean to pry ..." and then we go ahead and pry by asking them a personal question that is none of our business.

我们经常这样使用它。我们对某人说:“看,我不是想打探什么…”然后我们继续提出跟自己无关的私人问题来打探。

Sometimes when we pry we are simply concerned about someone. But it can still start trouble. So, as we said, curiosity is usually a good thing. But it can also put you in harm's way.

有时候当我们打探时,我们只是关心某人。但是这仍然可能会惹麻烦。所以,正如我们所说,好奇通常是好事,但是它也会把你置于险境。

"Curiosity killed the cat" is an idiom we use to warn people. Being curious can get you into trouble. We often use this expression when others ask prying questions.

我们经常使用好奇害死猫这句习惯用语来警示人们。好奇会让你陷入麻烦之中。我们经常在别人打探问题时用到这句表达。

People asking such questions are trying to find out something that is none of their business. They are being nosy.

人们提出这类问题是在试图弄清楚一些跟他们无关的事情,他们是多管闲事。

Okay, so now, let's hear an example of a nosy person asking prying questions by putting their nose where it does not belong.

所以现在就让我们来听听一个好管闲事的人如何多管闲事打探八卦。

So, last night I saw Tom out with a woman and it wasn't Jessica!

昨晚我看到汤姆跟一个女人在一起,那个女人不是杰西卡。

Really? They haven't broke up, have they?

真的吗?他们没有分手啊,是吧?

I don't think so. You know, I'm having lunch with Jessica tomorrow. Maybe I'll ask her.

我觉得没分手。你知道,我明天要和杰西卡一起共进午餐。也许我会问问她。

I wouldn't do that if I were you.

如果我是你,我不会这么做。

Why? Aren't you curious?

为什么?你不好奇吗?

A little. But it's not a good idea to stick your nose into other people's business.

有点好奇,但是多管闲事不是个好主意。

I'm not being nosy. I'm just ... curious.

我不是多管闲事,我只是好奇。

Well, you know what they say, "Curiosity killed the cat." Just leave it alone.

嗯,你知道人们咋说,”好奇害死猫,“ 别管它了。

Ahh ... maybe you're right.

啊,也许你说得对。

Here's the problem. "Curiosity killed the cat" is only part of the expression. The whole idiom goes like this: "Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back."

问题在于,好奇害死猫只是一句表达的一部分,整句习惯用语是这样的:好奇害死猫,但是知道真相的满足感又让它起死回生。

That last part really changes the meaning. The cat gets to live. Curiosity does not kill it. So, we use the first half of the saying as a warning: Be careful of the dangers of unnecessary investigation or experimentation! But the second part -- "satisfaction brought it back" -- shows that the risk might be worth it.

这句习语的后半部分完全改变了它的含义。猫可以活下去,好奇心并没有害死它。所以我们用前半部分作为警示:要小心那些不必要的调查或实验的危险性!但是第二部分满足感使其起死回生,向我们表明这种风险可能是值得的。

Not many English speakers know that in the original idiom the cat survives. But now you do! In the end, the way most Americans use the idiom is as a warning and they simply say "curiosity killed the cat."

很多说英语的人士都不知道,在最初的这句习语中,猫活了下来。但是现在你知道了!最后,大多数美国人使用这句习语就是作为一种警示,他们就是在说好奇害死猫。

And that's the end of Words and Their Stories for this week.

以上就是本期词汇掌故节目的全部内容。

I'm Anna Matteo.

安娜·马特奥报道。

Now, the VOA Learning English program Words and Their Stories.

Our weekly program is about the words, expressions and idioms we use in American English.

In any language, idioms can be difficult. Sometimes, you need to know a lot of ‘cultural backstory’ -- the meaning behind the words -- to understand these sayings. And using them the right way can cause problems for English learners.

But do not worry. Even people who grew up in the United States speaking English have problems with some of these idioms.

On another Words and Their Stories, we told how the idiom "blood is thicker than water" is misunderstood. This week we talk about another expression Americans usually get wrong.

That expression is: Curiosity killed the cat.

I know. It does not sound very nice. But trust me. It’s not that bad.

First, let's start with the word “curious.”

The word curious means to want to know things you don't know; to investigate. So to be curious is not a bad thing. Adults and teachers often praise children with curious minds for asking questions -- sometimes a lot of questions!

Curious people can be very interesting. They want to know more about the world around them. Another way of saying curious is inquisitive. The verb "inquire" means to ask one or more questions.

However, prying is a form of curiosity but not in a good way. Someone who is said to be prying into other people’s business wants to know about things that do not concern them. And often prying is an effort to find out secrets by looking for them in improper ways.

We often use it this way. We say to someone, “Look, I don’t mean to pry …” and then we go ahead and pry by asking them a personal question that is none of our business.

Sometimes when we pry we are simply concerned about someone. But it can still start trouble. So, as we said, curiosity is usually a good thing. But it can also put you in harm's way.

"Curiosity killed the cat" is an idiom we use to warn people. Being curious can get you into trouble. We often use this expression when others ask prying questions.

People asking such questions are trying to find out something that is none of their business. They are being nosy.

Okay, so now, let's hear an example of a nosy person asking prying questions by putting their nose where it does not belong.

So, last night I saw Tom out with a woman and it wasn’t Jessica!

Really? They haven’t broke up, have they?

I don’t think so. You know, I’m having lunch with Jessica tomorrow. Maybe I’ll ask her.

I wouldn’t do that if I were you.

Why? Aren’t you curious?

A little. But it’s not a good idea to stick your nose into other people's business.

I’m not being nosy. I’m just … curious.

Well, you know what they say, “Curiosity killed the cat.” Just leave it alone.

Ahh … maybe you’re right.

Here’s the problem. “Curiosity killed the cat" is only part of the expression. The whole idiom goes like this: "Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back."

That last part really changes the meaning. The cat gets to live. Curiosity does not kill it. So, we use the first half of the saying as a warning: Be careful of the dangers of unnecessary investigation or experimentation! But the second part -- "satisfaction brought it back" -- shows that the risk might be worth it.

Not many English speakers know that in the original idiom the cat survives. But now you do! In the end, the way most Americans use the idiom is as a warning and they simply say "curiosity killed the cat."

And that's the end of Words and Their Stories for this week.

I'm Anna Matteo.

_________________________________________________________________

Words in This Story

idiom – n. an expression that cannot be understood from the meanings of its separate words but that has a separate meaning of its own

inquisitive – adj. tending to ask questions : having a desire to know or learn more

pry – v. to try to find out about other people's private lives

nosy – adj. wanting to know about other people's lives, problems, etc.

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