雞同鴨講 ── 睇奧運，學「運動系」idioms！│A Chicken Talking To A Duck By Chatterbox
Now with the Olympic flame staying lit throughout August, I am sure many cities around the world including Hong Kong have been experiencing a bout of Olympic fever. That’s when it hit me that there are many common English idioms that appear to be sports related because of the way they are phrased, but in fact, they have tacit connections with sports nowadays. However, many of them began as sporting terminology and have over the years found themselves used in regular, everyday English.
When I raised this aspect with some of my Hong Kong friends, they were very excited about it because most of their current office talk and casual conversations have something to do with this global sporting event, so I have decided to honour the Rio Olympics by going into detail to examine some of the more commonly used action-packed phrases.
Let’s start with the phrase “kick off” as a way to say let’s begin. This phrase comes from football as a match will always begin with a player kicking the ball from the middle of the pitch.
Now I think about it, there are lots of phrases related to the word “ball”. For example, to say someone who is willing to do something in the way they are asked to do, we can say they are willing to “play ball”; if they don’t, that means they are being uncooperative.
If you want to ask someone to keep paying attention to something, you can say “keep your eye on the ball”.
Also, if you want to ask someone to get started with something, simply say “get the ball rolling”, then if you want them to keep going, simply say “keep the ball rolling”.
Ever heard someone say to you that: “The ball is in your court”? In that situation, it means that it’s up to you to make the next move.
When a situation has completely changed, you can woefully say it’s “a whole new ball game”.
Enough talk about balls though, let’s move on. One very relevant Olympic-related phrase is “go for the gold” to describe someone trying their best to achieve success.
Having gone through so many sports idioms, I think you’ve probably figured out that, like all idioms, some of these expressions shouldn’t be taken literally, but they certainly make sense once you understand their meaning. Native English speakers often use idioms unconsciously, so if you are able to master the use of English idioms, you’ll be one step closer to becoming a native English speaker.
The truth is there are so many kinds of idioms around that even native speakers can’t know every single one. If you want to speak English like a native speaker, you will have to refine your ability to understand idioms and their references. Picking up fun idioms such as sports related ones makes learning the language more fun and keeps you motivated.
Let’s round up today with a few more.
If you say someone is a “front runner”, it means someone is the favourite or the one who’s most likely to win. Conversely, if this person you anticipated to win has failed to do so, then you can use the expression “bet on the wrong horse”; this is one that Hongkongers can definitely appreciate. Pretty straightforward, right?
Can you guess this one? “Throw your hat into the ring”? Translation: Showing your decision to take part in a competition. There’s also “throw in the towel” which is a boxing term and was a way for boxers to signify their defeat, so in popular usage it means to give up.
I kid you not, good sports idioms can really pack a punch in conversational English. You’ve been a good sport guys, see you all next week.
想起來，倒有不少短語與「ball」有關。例如要形容某人很樂意執行獲派的工作時，我們可以說「they are willing to 『play ball』」；但如若他們不願意「play ball」，則意味其態度不合作、不配合。另外，如你想叫某人對某事保持關注的話，則可說「keep your eye on the ball」。
除此之外，想叫某人開始動手做事，說句「get the ball rolling」就可以了；要他們繼續下去，講法也差不多──「keep the ball rolling」。
有沒有聽過別人說「the ball is in your court」？這代表輪到你作下一步行動了。而當局面有翻天覆地的改變時，你亦可幽幽地說句「a whole new ball game」。
說夠「ball」了，談談其他吧。另一個與奧運相關的短語是「go for the gold」，代表某人盡力去取得成功。
如你稱某人為「front runner」，則代表他是你的心水、摰愛，或最有機會勝出、一路領先的參賽者。相反地，如你的心水輸了，則可以說句香港人定會欣賞的說話──「bet on the wrong horse」，一看就懂吧？
此外，你又猜到「throw your hat into the ring」的意思嗎？是「正式決定參賽」的意思。而有幾分相似的「throw in the towel」則是一個拳擊術語，代表拳擊手宣佈投降之舉，廣義亦可譯作放棄或認輸。
不瞞你說，絕佳的「運動系」習語能使你的英語會話「pack a punch」（擊出有力的一拳）呢！運動精英們，下周見！