Gravy train

Gravy train 意為「肥缺;輕鬆好賺的工作;輕易賺大錢的機會」。這是個美國用語,可追溯到 20 世紀初。一般普遍認為它原本是個鐵路用語,指工作人員錢多事少的火車路線。然而,截至目前還未發現 gravy train 中的 train 被用作字面意思「火車」的實例。大約在此一片語出現的同時,gravy 這個意為「肉汁」的單詞,也被用來表示「意外之財;意外所得;輕易得來的錢」等俚語意思。Gravy train 為可數名詞,複數為 gravy trains,通常與介系詞 on 和動詞 ride 連用。

例句:

  • This kind of job is a real gravy train. (這種工作實在是肥缺)
  • Kevin is riding the gravy train again. (凱文再度佔了肥缺)
  • Tom ended up on the gravy train when he married his wife, whose family owns the largest telecommunications group in the world. (湯姆娶了他太太後終於一步登天,少奮鬥數十年。他太太的家族擁有全球最大的電信集團)
  • When the politician got elected to the Legislative Yuan, he knew he was on the gravy train. (這位政客當選立法委員時,他知道他大撈的機會來了)

At the beginning 還是 in the beginning?At the end 還是 in the end 呢?

At the beginning (of something) 意為「在 (某事物) 開始時;開頭部分;開端」,其後經常接介系詞 of。In the beginning 意為「起初,當初;開始時,一開始 (用來與時間上的「後來」相對)」,與 at first 和 at the start 同義 (beginning 和 start 的前面皆可用 very 來修飾),其後不接介系詞 of。例如:

  • At the beginning of every lesson, the teacher gave us a quiz. (每堂課開始時,老師都會給我們小考) (正)
    In the beginning of every lesson, the teacher gave us a quiz. (誤)
  • I’ll go abroad for two weeks at the very beginning of May. (五月初我會出國兩個禮拜) (正)
    I’ll go abroad for two weeks in the very beginning of May. (誤)
  • Children are still at the beginning of their lives. (兒童仍處於他們生命的初期) (正)
    Children are still in the beginning of their lives. (誤)
  • In the beginning the main energy source was wood. (最初主要能源是木材) (正)
    At the beginning the main energy source was wood. (誤)
  • In the beginning I didn’t know what had happened. (起先我不知道發生了什麼事) (正)
    At the beginning I didn’t know what had happened. (誤)
  • If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. (一次不成功,那就再接再厲) (正)
  • He was a bit shy at the (very) start. (他開始時有點害羞) (正)

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Right off the bat

Right off the bat 意為「立刻,馬上」(immediately, instantly, at once, right away),是個美國成語,據信源自美國棒球。眾所周知,在棒球比賽中,打者的球棒一接觸到對方投手投來的球,必須立馬快速奔向一壘,以免遭封殺。這個慣用語於 1880 年代首次被使用,字面和比喻意思都有人用。有些人認為它可能也與板球 (cricket) 有關,但 right off the bat 大多用於北美地區。

Right off the bat 亦可放在句首當句子副詞 (sentence adverb),係用作否定或拒絕的開場白,意為「直截了當地 (說);開門見山地說」。

例句:

  • I can’t tell you how many colleagues will go to the party right off the bat. (我無法立馬告訴你有多少同事會參加聚會)
  • No one can expect to be accepted in a new class right off the bat. (沒有人能期望剛到一個新的班級,就立刻被大家所接受)
  • Right off the bat, I could tell you that the plan had no chance of success. (我可以直截了當地告訴你,這一計畫不可能成功)
  • Kevin, right off the bat, I want to tell you if you’re here to borrow any money, I’m afraid I can’t help you. (凱文,我想直截了當地告訴你,如果你來這裡是要借錢的話,我恐怕愛莫能助)

Magnate vs. magnet

Magnate 和 magnet 都僅當名詞用,前者意為「工商界巨頭、巨擘;富豪,大亨」,如 a press magnate (報業巨子);a steel magnate (鋼鐵大王);a shipping magnate (船王);John’s father is a well-known oil magnate; he’s the rich second generation. (約翰的父親是赫赫有名的石油大亨;他是富二代)。

Magnet 意為「磁鐵,磁石:有吸引力的人 (或物、地方)」,如 Penghu has now become a real tourist magnet. (澎湖現在成了非常吸引遊客的地方);Sun Moon Lake is a magnet for visitors. (日月潭像磁鐵般吸引著遊客)。

由於拼字和發音相近,再加上相較之下,magnet 比 magnate 來得常用,因此在實際的應用上,有時會發生 magnet 被用來代替 magnate 的錯誤。相對地,magnate 被用來代替 magnet 的錯誤雖非完全沒有,但比起 magnet 被用來代替 magnate 的錯誤則少見多了。

Keep someone posted

Keep someone posted 意為「不斷向某人提供最新資訊、消息;隨時告訴某人最新的情況;讓某人隨時知道最新的情況」,與 keep someone informed 同義。這個口語的起源不可考,可能與 post 的動詞和名詞意思都有關係。Post 當動詞用時是指「在柱子上張貼公告」,這是中古世紀常見的作法;post 當名詞用時意為「郵件」,早期的郵務系統都是由「郵差」沿途駐紮和送信。這兩種措施的概念都是在分享當前相關的訊息。

例句:

  • I’ll keep you posted on anything that happens while you’re away on a business trip to Japan. (在你去日本出差期間,我會隨時告訴你最新的情況)
  • The company promised to keep employees posted about the situation. (公司保證讓員工知道最新的情況)
  • Linda asked them to keep her informed about the sales of her novel. (琳達要求他們把她小說的銷售狀況隨時告訴她)

夾娃娃機

英文:claw machine (n.)

說明:也叫做 claw crane。

例句:

  • In East Asia, notably Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, claw machines are extremely popular. (在東亞,尤其是在日本、南韓和台灣,夾娃娃機極受歡迎)
  • I once clawed nine fluffy animals in a row in a claw crane. (我曾經在一台夾娃娃機連續夾到九個毛絨動物)

On cloud nine

On cloud nine 意為「快樂得不得了;樂歪了;樂不可支;欣喜若狂」。這個成語原為 on cloud seven,可能是指七重天 (seventh heaven)。在猶太文學中,七重天是天宇最高層,也是上帝的住處。現今 cloud nine、cloud seven 和 seventh heaven 是同義詞,只是 seventh heaven 前面的介系詞須用 in,而 on cloud seven 已不多見,幾已被 on cloud nine 完全取代。

On cloud nine 的起源不可考,但它在 2017 年初再度聲名大噪,因為世界網球名將費德勒 (Roger Federer) 在 2017 年澳洲網球公開賽打敗納達爾 (Rafael Nadal) 抱走冠軍獎盃之後約一個月時說:”I do feel like I’m on cloud nine still.” (我現在真的覺得好像還樂不可支,飄飄然地)。這是費德勒職網生涯的第 18 個大滿貫冠軍。
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Hear that, see that

Hear that 和 see that 經常被用來引導新的訊息或資訊,此時 hear 意為「聽說,得知」,而 see 意為「知道;明白;瞭解」。在這項用法中,hear 和 see 通常使用現在簡單式,而 that 有時會省略。例如:

  • I hear (that) Teresa has a thing for Benjamin. (我聽說泰瑞莎喜歡班傑明)
  • I hear Mary’s getting married in August. (我聽說瑪麗八月要結婚)
  • I see (that) John is going to move to Taipei next month. (我知道約翰下個月將搬到台北)
  • I see Professor Chen remarried. (我知道陳教授再婚了)

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Decent、descent 和 dissent 之對與錯

  • Mary didn’t have a decent meal for three months. (瑪麗三個月來沒有吃過一頓像樣的飯) (正)
  • Mary didn’t have a descent meal for three months. (誤)
  • Mary didn’t have a dissent meal for three months. (誤)

解說:這三個字或其中兩個字無論發音或拼字都非常相近,很容易讓人錯把馮京當馬涼。Decent 意為「像樣的;正派的;得體的;體面的」,是個形容詞。Descent 意為「下降;下坡;血統;墮落」,是個名詞。Dissent 意為「異議;不同意」,可當名詞和動詞用。

下面為 descent 和 dissent 的例句:

  • The military aircraft started its descent from 3,000 meters. (那架軍機開始從三千公尺高空降落)
  • There’s a long, steep descent over there. (那裡有一條長而且陡峭的坡道)
  • Many Malaysians are of Chinese descent. (許多馬來西亞人有華人血統)
  • The bill was approved without dissent. (這項法案無異議獲得通過)
  • Anyone wishing to dissent from the plan should now raise their hand. (不同意這項計畫的人請舉手)

So that 和 in order that 的用法

So that 和 in order that 都是用來表示目的,意為「為了;以便;目的在於」,當連接詞用,通常與語氣助動詞 (can、will、could、would 等) 連用。So that 比 in order that 來得常用許多,在非正式情況中,so that 中的 that 往往省略。In order that 是個正式用語,通常用於正式場合。例如:

  • John lowered his voice to tell me the secret so that no one would hear. (約翰壓低嗓音告訴我這個秘密,這樣就沒有人能聽到)
  • Mary got up early in order that she should/would/might be on time for school. (瑪麗一早就起床以便準時上學)
  • I’ll go there so that I can talk to the president. (我要去那裡,這樣我才能跟總統談話)
  • In order that you can sign the contract, please give me your address and I will mail it to you. (為了讓你能夠簽約,請給我你的地址,我會把合約寄給你)
  • Thomas worked hard so (that) he would earn one million dollars before the age of 25. (湯瑪斯努力工作俾在 25 歲之前能賺到 100 萬)
  • I’ve made some sushi so (that) you can have a snack with your girlfriend. (我做了一些壽司,這樣你就能跟你女朋友一起吃點心)

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