雞同鴨講──貓、牛、馬…與動物有關的idioms（2）｜A Chicken Talking To A Duck By Chatterbox
When learning a foreign language, I guarantee you will have a blast if you try to pick up a few idioms along the way. It certainly is an interesting way to spice up the learning process as well as gain insights into the thought processes of the people who use it and look through the lens of a new culture. Interestingly, idioms from different cultures sometimes do overlap and have similar expressions.
Learning idioms doesn’t only improve your comprehension of a foreign language, it also helps with cultural understanding. Do bear in mind that idioms very often don’t mean what they appear to mean. For example, the expression “raining cats and dogs” doesn’t mean that cats and dogs are falling out of the sky, it just means it’s raining heavily.
You may also start to notice that many English idioms are related to animals. Have you heard of the expression “straight from the horse’s mouth”? It means getting the information directly from the original source, which implies the accuracy of the information. Its origin is pretty obvious because if you want to get a tip for a horse race, it would definitely be far more reliable to get it directly from the horse.
To say someone is behaving like “a bull in a china shop”, you are effectively accusing them of behaving carelessly, just imagine a cumbersomely large animal like a bull knocking over delicate china plates and teapots.
Still on the cattle theme, there’s also the saying “take the bull by the horns”, which means to take on a challenge or danger boldly. I bet many of you know what “the bull’s eye” and “a cash cow” mean.
If someone has revealed a secret, you can say they have “let the cat out of the bag” about whatever the secret it is that they’ve revealed.
Another cute expression that’s also related to things that are secretive is “a little bird told me”. It indicates you have heard something secretive from an anonymous source. It’s often used at the beginning of a sentence to draw attention to something that follows as a way to strike up a conversation. For example, you can say, “a little bird told me that you are getting married.”
Another similarly sweet expression is “smitten kitten”, which is used to describe someone who’s deliriously in love with someone else.
Still on kitten theme, but for something that’s completely different; if you say “to have kittens”, it means to become extremely upset or worried. You can use it in a sentence like: “Your boss will have kittens if he finds out that you still haven’t started with the project.” If you are curious about the origin of this idiom, one explanation is that back in the old days in which superstition was taken seriously, women were really worried that they would give birth to kittens instead of babies.
One fun phrase before we go; “When the cat’s away, the mice will play”; I bet you can easily guess its meaning. Correct! It means people will do as they please when the boss or another dominant figure is away.
Learning English is child’s play, especially with the help of idioms. Have fun and see you all next week.
因此，學會習語不但能改善你對外語的理解能力，更有助了解當中的文化。但緊記，習語的意思總是與字面直譯相反，例如「raining cats and dogs」不代表天空落下一隻隻貓狗，而是傾盆大雨之意。
想起來，許多英文習語倒與動物有關，有聽過「straight from the horse’s mouth」嗎？它的意思是，從消息來源直接提取資訊，意味信息準確性之高。這句話的來源很明顯，要是你希望在賽馬中賺點錢，還有比從馬匹身上取得資訊，更直接可靠的方法嗎？
至於說某人的行為像「a bull in a china shop」，實際上就是指責他粗心大意，令事情亂成一片，用來形容如今那位美國總統，不是很適合嗎？
談起「牛」，還有「take the bull by the horns」，意即大膽地承擔挑戰或危險，「the bull’s eye」（靶心）和「a cash cow」（搖錢樹）的意思，相信也不難猜吧。
此外，要是某人把秘密揭露出來，無論那秘密關於甚麼，也可以說他們「let the cat out of the bag」。
另一與秘密有關、相當可愛的習語是「a little bird told me」。它代表你從匿名的消息來源聽到一些秘密，通常用於在語句開頭，引起別人注意，從而開展對話，例如你可以說，「A little bird told me that you are getting married」。（有消息靈通的人士告訴我，你即將要結婚了。）
以下這句也與貓有關，但意思卻南轅北轍。「To have kittens」代表情緒變得極度惱怒或擔心，以下是例句：「Your boss will have kittens if he finds out that you still haven’t started with the project」（要是老闆發現你還未開始那份報告，他肯定會心慌意亂起來。）對這句話的來源有興趣嗎？其中一個解說是，古時迷信，婦女臨盤時會生下小貓。
完結專欄前，再來一個有趣的短語吧！「When the cat’s away, the mice will play」──相信大家不難猜到箇中意思，沒錯，就是當管事者不在，人們就會輕鬆自在。